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Temple Watch: Retoring Ta Prohm

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When early-20th-century restorers started work in Angkor, it was decided to leave the ruin of Ta Prohm unrestored to give the impression of discovering a lost temple. The fabulous tree roots and atmosphere of this famous temple have been a major draw ever since, but safety considerations and visitor numbers have meant that restoration and maintenance were needed. Repairs to the Western Entrance Gopura have now been finished and the western cruciform terrace with Naga balustrade is on the way to completion. The central sanctuary, with its well-known tree, complete with strangler fig over a doorway, has been opened up to visitors with new walkway and fencing. The new viewing platform at the famous East Gopura will deter people crawling over the tree and carvings, but it is likely to upset photographers, who with patience could wait for the tourist groups to disperse. With time, the wood will weather, so the platform will not be so noticeable.Looking at what has been going on at the temple in the last few years, the principle of not restoring Ta Prohm has obviously long since been abandoned. The question now is how far should the restoration go?

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