Temples around Yogyakarta
The area in and around Yogya is just packed with religious, historical
and cultural relics from the 8th and 9th century that, in many cases,
lay hidden for several centuries. The list below is if some of the
more prominent landmarks. The information given is only meant to
be a very brief overview to whet the appetite as it were (any number
of books have been written about Borobudur and Prambanan that provide
exhaustive detail about these two man made wonders of the world
and no doubt the serious student / visitor will find such books
Athens has the Acropolis, Beijing has The Forbidden City and Great
Wall, Cairo has the Pyramids and Yogyakarta has Candi Borobudur!
A mere 42 km (25 miles) northwest of Yogyakarta, is perhaps Indonesia's
most famous attraction, the Borobudur Temple. It is the largest
single Buddhist temple in the world. Rulers of the Sailendra Dynasty
are credited with the design and construction the colossal pyramid
or Buddhist Stupa, of Borobudur between 750 and 850 AD. Its location
is at the geographic center of the island of Java.
However very little else though is known about the site's early
history except that a huge workforce must have been harnessed to
shift and carve the 60,000 cubic meter (196,800 cu ft) of andestine
stone (volcanic rock) used in its construction. As with the Great
Pyramids of Egypt no mortar was used to hold the stones in place.
The Temple is composed of 9 visible and one hidden tier symbolizing
the devout Buddhist transition from reality to Nirvana. There are
5 kilometers of stone relief’s and 504 statues of Buddha.
When the Majaphit (Buddhist) empire Buddhism declined and the power
shift to Islam took hold, Borobudur was abandoned and for centuries
laid hidden under layers of volcanic ash and dense growth. It was
only in 1815 that the site was rediscovered and cleared and the
incredible technical skill, art and imagination of the builders
revealed. Erosion and neglect required a US$21 million restoration
program. The restoration took place between 1973 and 1984 and it
returned much of the complex to its former glory. A small museum
of carvings and stones unable to be used in the restoration is on
the grounds of the temple.
The complex opens at 06:00 AM and there are a surprising number
of visitors who want to catch the sunrise from atop the temple The
complex closes at sunset about 6:00 PM with the last visitors allowed
in at 5:00 pm. Visiting early in the morning and late in the afternoon
are, for our money, best. First you beat the stifling heat of the
midday sun but perhaps more important is the interesting way the
light and shadow play upon the andesite stone changing the colour
from dark black to light gray with different hues of brown, yellow
and blue right before your eyes. Be advised that (especially for
older visitors) it is a good idea to leave the complex before it
gets dark. The stairs on the upper levels are high, steep and uneven.
Hours: 6.00 am - 5.30 pm (last
admittance 5.00 pm)
(foreign visitors) US $15.00
available for approximately Rp. 75,000.-
Return to Top
and Pawon Temples
Nearby Borobudur, and important parts of the Borobudur
complex, these two smaller temples are often overlooked by visitors
to the main site.
Candi Mendut is a mere 3 km
from Borobudur. This temple seems to have been linked to Borobudur
by a walkway used by pilgrims on their way to the Borobudur Temple.
Candi Mendut was uncovered (discovered) in 1836 some 36 years after
Borobudur was first uncovered.
Candi Pawon has the same East
to West orientation as Borobudur and it is believed that it was
built at the same time as Borobudur. It is dedicated to the God
Return to Top
This 9th Century Hindu Temple a.k.a. The Temple of the Slender Virgin
is a mere 17 km. east from the center of Yogyakarta and visible
from the highway that leads to Solo. It is the largest and best
preserved Hindu Temple in all of Indonesia. Built during the Canjaya
Dynasty, in the mid 9th Century, it actually consists of three courtyards
surrounded by a number of small temples.
Briefly, the main temple contains three shrines dedicated to the
Hindu Trinity of Shiva Mahadeva (centre) and flanked Vishnu (north)
Brahma (south). In addition there facing these temples are 3 smaller
shrines depicting the vehicles of these gods. The Nandi Temple represents
the bull as the vehicle for Shiva, the destroyer; as well there
is a temple for the eagle, the vehicle of Vishnu, the guardian;
and a temple for the swan, the vehicle of Brahma, the creator.
As mentioned above, the temple is also known as The Temple of the
Slender Virgin. Legend has it that a certain man with great powers
named Bandung Bondowoso wanted to marry the beautiful Princess Roro
Jonggrang, daughter of King Boko. Inasmuch as the princess didn't
love her suitor, she agreed only if Bandung would build 1,000 temples
in one night. Having supernatural powers (and spirit friends) he
agreed and one night set about the task. Seeing that Bandung would
be able to complete the task, the Princess enlisted all her maidens
to set fire to the fields and make noise to simulate the dawn. When
the cocks began to crow Bandung's supernatural spirits fled thinking
it was already dawn. Learning he was tricked, Bandung turned Princess
Roro in the statue that now occupies the temple at the north entrance.
Prambanan provides an impressive backdrop for performances of the
“Ramayana Dance” each month (May-October) during the full moon.
Hours: 8.00 am - 5.00 pm
Return to Top
Just a few hundred metres north east of Prambanan is the Hindu Sewu
Temple. Consisting of 1 main temple and 4 complimentary temples
- one for each direction (north, south, east and west) all surrounded
by 240 smaller temples. Of note here is the main temple with one
wall having a an unusual curve carved out of it with Middle Eastern
ornaments. It is thought that at one time the space held a large
bronze statue that was eventually plundered.
Continuing another km northeast from Prambanan you will come upon
The Plaosan Temple complex. Plaosan is interesting and important
because its cascade style mixes both Hindu and Buddhist architectural
elements and there is no other temple like it on Java. It is thought
to have been built in the 9th century by King Rakai Pikatan, a Hindu,
and his wife Queen Pramodhawardhani who was Buddhist. The complex
contains Plaosan Lor to the north and Plaosan Kidul to the south.
King Boko Palace
Another 2 km further south east from Prambanan on a small rise is
are the ruins of King Boko's palace. Constructed in the 9th century,
it is thought to have been the capital of the Mataram Hindu Kingdom.
Whilst there's not much left except the gate (which is a reconstruction)
and the general outline, its setting is serene and since not nearly
as many people visit it is an interesting spot to sit and imagine
how grand the kingdoms of central Java must have been in their day
- over a 1,000 years ago.
There are any number of other temples and shrines around Prambanan
that would take a day or two to see completely. If you have time
and the interest you can also visit
Klasan Temple - one of the oldest Buddhist Temples that
dates back to 775. It was built to commemorate the marriage of King
Prancapana of the Sanjaya Dynasty and Princess Dyah Pramudya Wardhani
of the Sailendra Dynasty and was believed to have been painted a
bright yellow colour using yellow tree sap.
Sari Temple, near Klasan, this 2 two storey temple is similar
in many repects to Plaosan Temple (the second storey being used
to house religious relic) and / or Sambisari Temple,
a Shiva temple (Hindu) about 2.5 km from Prambanan that was built
just before the end of the Mataram Hindu Empire.
Return to Top