Ta Reach: Most Famous Sacred Sculpture at Angkor Wat

 Ta Reach is the most powerful local spirit or Neak Ta for local inhabitants in the Angkor Archaeological park

SIEM REAP--Located inside the West Gate of the Angkor Wat Temple, a gigantic statue of Hindu divinity Vishnu locally known as “Ta Reach", is regarded as one of the most sacred and divined figures, whom people faithfully believe and pray upon for happiness and prosperity. 

Standing as tall as five meters above the ground with eight hands stretching out, Ta Reach is highly respected and well-known to many people from every part of the country. They come to pray to him and ask for all kinds of blessings. 

Chea Vannsak, a resident in Siem Reap Province, is one of the people who regularly pray and make offerings to Ta Reach. He explained that doing so makes him happy and relieved. 

“I usually come to Ta Reach so as other people who live in Siem Reap and other parts of the country to pray and worship, especially when I endure hardships. This is because we believe that our trouble would be relieved,” Vannsak said. 

Moreover, this is not the only sacred site Vannsak has been worshipping. He said that he would go to various divine places such as the Bayon temple, Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm Shrine, Lok Yeay Tep, and Preah Ang Thom at the Kulen Mountain. 

Khut Kimheang also holds the same belief when it comes to praying at Ta Reach. Apart from begging for happiness and prosperity, she also comes in person frequently to ask for protection against all illnesses. Occasionally, she prayed at home while reflecting upon Ta Reach when she could not come. 

“If I could not come here, I would always pay my respect to Ta Reach from afar as he is the guardian of this region,” Kimheang said, adding that whenever she came to visit Angkor Wat, she never fails to pay respect to Ta Reach in person. 

Kheang Kheng, 70, a devotee from Kampong Thom Province, said that Ta Reach is also known as Lok Ta Moha Reach, noting that many people also regarded him as the former military general. 

“Ta Reach watched over the land of Angkor, and people would come and worship Ta Reach for happiness, protection and prosperity. Many of them will also return to pay tribute when their wishes are fulfilled,” Kheng said. 

Although many local devotees have been revering Ta Reach, not many are aware of the history of the repair and restoration of the statue.

According to stone conservation expert Long Nary, the sculpture has been repaired several times since the 16th century as it has been damaged due to many factors such as natural causes, civil war and human activities.

However, the main factors, Nary said, are some believers pouring water and applying power on the statue.

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