At the western end of the East Baray reservoir, Ta Keo, the imposing state-temple of Jayavarman V, was begun around 975 but never finished; legend has it that construction was abandoned after the temple was struck by lightning, an unlucky omen. Entirely constructed of sandstone, Ta Keo is practically undecorated; some sources say that the particular sandstone used is exceptionally hard and too difficult to carve, although fine carving around the base of the pyramid seems to contradict that. Particularly stark in appearance, it is best visited in the early morning when the light is less harsh.
Almost the whole eastern side of the outer enclosure is taken up with two long halls to the north and south, their windows looking inward. In an innovative departure from earlier convention, a gallery runs the full perimeter of the inner enclosure, though oddly enough it has no entrance and thus seems to have been constructed for appearances only. The gallery’s windows are decorated with balusters, but you’ll only be able to look through those on the interior – those on the outside are blocked by a stone wall behind, though they’re remarkably convincing from a distance.
From here, you can climb one of the steep stairways up the pyramid, over 21m from the ground. The five sanctuary towers are arranged in the usual quincunx pattern and are dedicated to Shiva. To the east, the view from the top is of rice fields and scrub, the East Baray now being dry.