Photo: Temple mountain indeed.

Ta Keo

Our rating:

The unfinished massive temple mountain of Ta Keo is almost 50 metres tall and was the first of the Khmer monuments to be built entirely of sandstone.

Some say construction may have stopped due to a lightning strike—taken as a warning sign to not continue—others put forward the death of Jayavarman V as more likely rationale. Whatever the reasoning, the sudden stop is clear from all the undecorated facing stones—door supports and lintels all lay in place, waiting for the carvers to show up.

Note the un-carved decorative stones. Photo taken in or around Ta Keo, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

Note the un-carved decorative stones. Photo: Caroline Major

Despite its no-frills state the temple is well worth visiting, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon when the light brings out the warm hues in the sandstone.

The upper levels of the pyramid are so narrow that it’s almost impossible to walk around them. In contrast, the top level is refreshingly spacious and decorated with four corner towers and a larger central tower. The views over the surrounding forest, in all directions, are terrific.

Do watch your step. Photo taken in or around Ta Keo, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

Do watch your step. Photo: Caroline Major

The road passes by the south and western walls of Ta Keo. The southern stairs are the most popular route but all the stairs here are very steep, with warning signs accordingly. You need to be reasonably nimble to ascend.

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Location map for Ta Keo

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