Chapel of the Hospital
Hardly any tourist visits this small structure only 150 metres west of Ta Keo, just on the opposite side of the Small Circuit road and close to the Siem Reap river. Indeed this typical Khmer Prasat is not in the best condition of preservation and not a major attraction at all, but of some historical interest. The still existing sandstone Prasat was the core of a much larger complex of halls. They served as lodges for sick people and for their doctors and nurses and other assistants. As they were constructed of perishable materials such as wood and bamboo, they have long since disappeared.
Hospitals with small shrines, or attached to larger temples, already existed before Jayavarman VII (1181 - ca.1218). But this Buddhist ruler praised himself to have cared for the people by building 102 hospitals and making special efforts to ensure that they were run professionally. The Sanskrit inscriptions of the "jungletemple" Ta Prohm include the most detailed account about these hospitals (Arogyasalas) restored or newly constructed by King Jayavarman VII. After an invocation of the healing Buddha Bhaishajyaguru and a eulogy of the compessionate ruler, the text lays down the hospital regulation and lists the personnel. 100 or 200 people worked in a hospital of the capital.
The architecture of these Hospital temples is simple and always the same. Inside an enclosure with a Gopura gate there is a Prasat with a small projecting body, more an Antarala than a Mandapa, and flanked by a small library. The best example in Angkor is this small structure simply called "Chapel of the Hospital" near Ta Kao. An inscription found in this area confirmed the identity of this site as one of Jayavarman's 102 hospitals.
Not much differing from most other Prasats, this stone sanctuary opened to the east, and had blind doors on the other three sides. The decoration, of course, is in the so-called style of Bayon of the late twelfth century. Some Devata images are left over, and you can see small figures enclosed in circular medaillons. A draining channel exited to the north wall of the tower, just as at Ta Prohm Kel. There are more fragments standing on the ground near the Prasat, these former pediments and lintels have further Buddhist carvings. Two sandstone door frames remain from the former Gopuram slightly eastwards.
Noon is the best time to visit this small monument closely surrounded by the trees of the forest. There is no ticket check point at this small ruin, but you should have an Angkor ticket when using the Small Circuit road.