WanderlustOdysseyExploring the Historic Temples of Central Java and Yogyakarta

Exploring the Historic Temples of Central Java and Yogyakarta

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Borobudur Temple

Built in 824 AD, Borobudur is one of the oldest religious sites in the world, 400 years older than all the cathedrals in Europe. Situated on a 123 x 123 square meters hill with a height of 34.4 meters, the Borobudur Temple was build by King Samaratungga, one of the kings of the oldest kingdom of Mataram, the decendants of Wangsa Syailendra. This temple used up about two million pieces of vulcanic rocks that have been perfectly carved to fit. It has been estimated that the construction of the temple took more than half a century.

Candi Borobudur is a very sacred and religious place for the Buddhists. Since the mid-9th century to the early 11th century, this temple attracted Buddhist pilgrim from China, India, Tibet, and Cambodia. Borobudur does not only have a high artistic value, but is also loaded with philosophy. This magnificent building is divided into three levels that symbolize the teaching in Buddhism: Kamadhatu or lust, Rupadhatu where humans are able to control himself from all desires, and Arudaphatu or a world without form, depicts the final stage where people are no longer pursuing human desires.

If you want to know the history of this amazing carvings on the walls of this temple, you have to actually walk around it, clockwise or it is known as “pradaksina”.  

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple, located about 20 kilometers east of Yogyakarta, exactly on the border with Central Java. Soaring 47 meter high, the temple complex occupies a total of 39.8 Ha, and is believed to have been built in the 9th century AD. Its architecture has been highly favored as an icon of Indonesian culture and tourism.

In front of the Prambanan temple, there are three main temples facing east, named Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva, the symbol of famous Trimurti for the Hindu believers.

For the locals, the Prambanan Temple is also known as Rara Jonggrang. According to legend, a beautiful princess named Rara Jonggrang was to be paired with Bandung Bondowoso. Rara Jonggrang who refused the arranged marriage, eventually gives Bondowoso two conditions, to create a well called Jalatunda and for him to make 1,000 temples that must be completed in one night.

His supernatural powers allowed him to complete 999 temples, but then Rara Jonggrang asked the women of the village to wake up earlier, start their days work and make the roosters crow. Bandung Bondowoso knew it was Rara Jonggrang’s trick. He became furious and cursed Rara Jonggrang to be the 1,000th temple.

Prambanan Temple was rediscovered by a Dutch citizen named CA Lons in 1733. The temple was subsequently undergone with several restorations and until finally crowned as one of the world heritage site by UNESCO in 1991.

Mendut Temple

The small Buddhist Mendut Temple in Central Java Province forms an inseparable part of a pilgrim’s progress to the mighty Borobudur Temple. Serving as an introductory portal before ascending the Borobudur Temple, Mendut has an array of narrative reliefs and most important Buddha statues. The temple itself is located in the village of Mendut, Magelang Regency, Central Java Province. According to a Karangtengah inscription, the temple was built and completed during the reign of King Indra of Sailendra dynasty (824 AD)

Ratu Boko Temple

Ratu Boko site has yielded many smaller artefact including statues, both Hindu (Durga, Ganesha, Garuda, a Linga and a Yoni) and Buddhist (three unfinished Dhyani Buddhas). Other finds include ceramics and inscriptions; a golden plate with the writing “Om Rudra ya namah swaha” on it as form of worship to Rudra as the other name of Shiva. This proved that the Hindus and Buddhist live together with tolerance or in a syncretism. Despite the large quantity and variety of remains found there, the exact functions of Ratu Boko site is still unknown. Some believe it was the former palace of ancient Mataram Kingdom; other scholars interpret this site as monastery.

Plaosan Temple

Near Prambanan Temple, there are other interesting temples that you can visit including Plaosan Temple. This temple was built in the mid 9th century by Rakai Pikatan for her wife, Pramudyawardani. The complex is divided into 2 groups, namely the North Plaosan Temple and the South Plaosan Temple. Both of the temples have square terrace that is encircled by wall, a pillbox for meditation at the west part and dome on other side. Because of that similarity, the appearance of both temples are the same when they are seen from distant so that Plaosan temple is also called the twin temples.