Prambanan, named after the village, is the biggest temple complex in Java. It is actually a huge Hindu temple complex about 15 km north-east of Yogyakarta. Dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities, this temple with its decorated reliefs is an outstanding example of Siva art in Indonesia and the region.
It was built in the 9th century and designed as three concentric squares. In all there are 224 temples in the entire complex. The inner square contains 16 temples, the most significant being the 47 m high central Siva temple flanked to the north by the Brahma temple and to the south by the Vishnu temple. These three ancient masterpieces of Hindu architecture are locally referred to as the Prambanan Temple or Lorojonggrang Temple (Slender Maiden); the compound was deserted soon after it was completed, possibly owing to the eruption of nearby Mount Merapi.
A square platform is divided into concentric courts by square-plane walls. In the middle of the last enceinte stand the temples dedicated to the three great Hindu gods and three small temples dedicated to their animal vehicles (Bull for Siva, Eagle for Brahma and Swan for Vishnu). Other minor temples were located at the entrance gates or outside the central enceinte (four ensembles).
The Siva temple had four statues: located in the centre chamber is the Siva statue; in the north chamber stands the Dewi Durga Mahisasuramardhini statue; in the west chamber stands the Ganesya statue; and the south chamber contains the statue of Agastya. Inside the Brahma temple there is Brahma statue, and in the Vishnu temple there is the Vishnu statue. In the Vishnu temple is carved the story of Kresnayana, while the Brahma temple houses the continuous story of the Ramayana. The temples of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are decorated with reliefs illustrating the Ramayana period (history of the Hindu hero Rama, written around 300).
The neighbouring Buddhist ensemble at Sewu comprises a central temple surrounded by a multitude of minor temples. Surprisingly, it shares many design attributes with the Hindu Loro Joggrang Temple, perhaps indicating the degree to which such temples also reflect state policies and control. Three other temples in ruins set between Sewu and Loro Joggrang complete the ensemble around Prambanan: Lumbuna, Burah and Asu.
Prambanan, the Most Beautiful Hindu Temple in the WorldPrambanan temple is extraordinarily beautiful building constructed in the tenth century during the reigns of two kings namely Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung. Soaring up to 47 meters (5 meters higher than Borobudur temple), the foundation of this temple has fulfilled the desire of the founder to show Hindu triumph in Java Island. This temple is located 17 kilometers from the city center, among an area that now functions as beautiful park.
There is a legend that Javanese people always tell about this temple. As the story tells, there was a man named Bandung Bondowoso who loved Roro Jonggrang. To refuse his love, Jonggrang asked Bondowoso to make her a temple with 1,000 statues only in one-night time. The request was nearly fulfilled when Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice and to set a fire in order to look like morning had broken. Feeling to be cheated, Bondowoso who only completed 999 statues cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.
Prambanan temple has three main temples in the primary yard, namely Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva temples. Those three temples are symbols of Trimurti in Hindu belief. All of them face to the east. Each main temple has accompanying temple facing to the west, namely Nandini for Shiva, Angsa for Brahma, and Garuda for Vishnu. Besides, there are 2 flank temples, 4 kelir temples and 4 corner temples. In the second area, there are 224 temples.
Entering Shiva temple, the highest temple and is located in the middle, you will find four rooms. One main room contains Shiva statue, while the other three rooms contain the statues of Durga (Shiva's wife), Agastya (Shiva's teacher), and Ganesha (Shiva's son). Durga statue is said to be the statue of Roro Jonggrang in the above legend.
In Vishnu temple, to the north of Shiva temple, you will find only one room with Vishnu statue in it. In Brahma temple, to the south of Shiva temple, you find only room as well with Brahma statue in it.
Quite attractive accompanying temple is Garuda temple that is located close to Vishnu temple. This temple keeps a story of half-bird human being named Garuda. Garuda is a mystical bird in Hindu mythology. The figure is of golden body, white face, red wings, with the beak and wings similar to eagle's. It is assumed that the figure is Hindu adaptation of Bennu (means 'rises' or 'shines') that is associated with the god of the Sun or Re in Old Egypt mythology or Phoenix in Old Greek mythology. Garuda succeeded in saving his mother from the curse of Aruna (Garuda's handicapped brother) by stealing Tirta Amerta (the sacred water of the gods).
Its ability to save her mother made many people admire it to the present time and it is used for various purposes. Indonesia uses the bird as the symbol of the country. Other country using the same symbol is Thailand, with the same reason but different form adaptation and appearance. In Thailand, Garuda is known as Krut or Pha Krut.
Prambanan also has panels of relief describing the story of Ramayana. Experts say that the relief is similar to the story of Ramayana that is told orally from generation to generation. Another interesting relief is Kalpataru tree that - in Hindu - the tree is considered tree of life, eternity and environment harmony. In Prambanan, relief of Kalpataru tree is described as flanking a lion. The presence of this tree makes experts consider that Javanese society in the ninth century had wisdom to manage its environment.
Just like Garuda, Kalpataru tree is also used for various purposes. In Indonesia, Kalpataru is used as the logo of Indonesian Environment Institution. Some intellectuals in Bali even develop "Tri Hita Karana" concept for environment conservation by seeing Kalpataru relief in this temple. This tree of life is also seen in the gunungan (the puppet used as an opening of traditional puppet show or wayang kulit). This proves that relief panels in Prambanan have been widely known throughout the world.
If you see the relief in detail, you will see many birds on them; they are real birds as we can see on the earth right now. Relief panels of such birds are so natural that biologists can identify their genus. One of them is the relief of the Yellow-Crest Parrot (Cacatua sulphurea) that cites unanswered question. The reason is that the bird only exists in Masakambing Island, an island in the middle of Java Sea. Then, did the bird exist in Yogyakarta? No body has succeeded in revealing the mystery.
You can discover many more things in Prambanan. You can see relief of Wiracarita Ramayana based on oral tradition. If you feel tired of enjoying the relief, you can take a rest in the beautiful garden in the complex. Since 18 September 2006, you can enter zone 1 area of Prambanan temple. The damage caused by the earthquake on 27 May 2006 is being reconstructed. Please come and enjoy Prambanan temple.