Volume 2 No.9

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Legends Of Prasat Ta Prohm and Prasat Neang Pov
Khmer Tales, Volume 5, Buddhist Institute, Ministry of Cults and Religions. ( September, 2002 Volume 2 No.9 )

Prasat Ta Prohm is located some 32 kilometres from Phnom Penh along National Route No. 2 in Kramng Thnorng commune, Bati district, Takeo province. Following the sign, turn right and after about two kilometres you will see two temples on the southern side of a large ancient river -- the Tonle Bati. The legend about the history of these temples is a simple tale. There was a king named Keitomealea, who was the king of Mohanorkor (Angkor Wat). He was a very strong and capable king.
One day, he was very bored staying in the whole time and so he led his entourage along the southern side of the river. When they arrived at the Tonle Bati, they stopped and stayed there very happily for a period of time. The villagers there gathered around him with gifts when they knew that the king had come.

There was an old lady with a very pretty daughter known as Neang Pov. The lady brought her daughter to visit the king every day and before long, the king fell in love with Neang Pov. The lady saw that the couple was so in love and gave her daughter to the king as his wife. Soon it was time for Keitomealea to return to Mohanorkor. Neang Pov was then three months pregnant. The king handed her his ring and said "You cannot come with me. When my son grows up and wants to find me, give him the ring as proof". She was saddened but since the king had forbidden her from going to Mohanorkor, she stayed behind.

A few months later, Neang Pov gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who took after his father in many ways. His mother named him Ang Prom Koma, (Ang refers to the Buddha or king, Prom refers to the border or edge and Koma means boy) which translates as: the boy who was born on the edge of the river. When Ang Prom Koma was 16 years old, he asked about his father. Neang Pov told him everything about his father being the king of Mohanorkor and so on and gave him the ring as proof. The lad wore the ring on his right hand and left his mother to find his father.

He rode along the river bank and very soon arrived at Mohanorkor. At the gates, he asked the guards about his father. Officials then reported to the king of the lad’s presence and the king summoned for the boy to meet him. On meeting the king, the boy showed the ring and the king knew then that this boy was indeed his son. The king was so pleased that he appointed Ang Prom Koma as the king of that area of the river.
Ang Prom Koma was the first king of that area and the people there addressed him as King Mei Ba - meaning the leader king, who cared for his people, (Mei for mother and Ba for father) Soon, the place became more popularly known as Bati. Ti is the word for place in Khmer and Bati means the place of Ba - the king. Later, King Mei Ba built two temples. One for his mother, he named Neang Pov after her and the other for himself, he called Ta Prohm. Around these temples, the king built extensive offices for himself, his mother and their courts to work from. History has it that King Jayavaraman VII built Ta Prohm at the end of the 12th century. It was built on the site of a sixth century Khmer shrine. The temple is built of sandstone and laterite and has five compartments inside. There are now still some sculptures existing in relatively good conditions.
A hundred metres from Ta Prohm is the temple of Neang (Yiey) Pov which is a square temple with a row of seven metre long walls and faces East. The bas-reliefs there have a few glimpses of history to offer. Women often come to the temple to pray for fertility and children.