Info : Prambanan
Prambanan is a huge Hindu temple complex erected in the middle of the ninth century, some 50 years after the nearby and more illustrious Buddhist temple of Borobudur. However, while it does not have quite the same level of fame as Borobudur and is still not fully restored to its former glory, it is undoubtedly a magnificent piece of architecture and the sculptures and reliefs on the main Shiva temple are amongst the best examples of Hindu art to be found. Like Borobudur, Prambanan is blessed with the natural beauty provided by a lush green plateau surrounded by volcanic peaks.
Very little is known about the early history of the temple but it is thought that it was built by Rakai Pikatan to celebrate his marriage to the Buddhist Sailendra Princess Pramodhavardhani. This united the Sailendras to the south with the Hindu Sanjayas to the north and meant the return of a Hindu dynasty to sole power in Java. The main temple complex consisted of 8 main and 8 minor temples on a central courtyard, surrounded by 244 small temples in the outer compound. Unlike many temple complexes, Prambanan was not constructed in a symmetrical manner. The largest of the temples, dedicated to Shiva, rises majestically to 47m and is lavishly carved. At the time of writing you could not get particularly close but you could still admire the huge range of sculptures and reliefs that tell the story of Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. It is possible to climb and enter the remaining temples and admire their intricate artwork or simply sit and enjoy the setting.
As was the case with Borobudur, the temple was destroyed by a combination of the Hindu-Buddhist exodus east and a number of eruptions and earthquakes. It was not until 1937 that reconstruction started in earnest. As it stands, the central 16 temples have been reconstructed but only two of the 244 outer structures have been rebuilt – although the remains of the these are piled in position. The temple also suffered from an earthquake in 2006 and while the temples remained standing, hundreds of stones collapsed or were cracked which has put the effort to fully restore the entire complex back yet further.
The best time to visit the temple is at sunset, when you can climb one of the eastern temples and watch as the sun sets in between the three largest temples to the west. On a clear day the temple will appear as a silhouette against the backdrop of a sky of bright reds, pale blues and wisps of white clouds. On certain evenings there is a performance of the famous Ramayana Ballet - Java’s most spectacular dance-drama - in a theatre just to the west of the temple. In the dry season this is performed in the outdoor theatre with the illuminated temple in the background and it is a great accompaniment to the temple visit. Speak to your consultant to see if you can fit it into your holiday dates.
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It was a little disconcerting to be met by a stranger who took our passports and $50 with the instruction of "wait here for me". However, the fact that he then fast-tracked up through customer and immigration was amazing - we felt like rock-stars!