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Prambanan temple complex in 360°

Prambanan temple compound is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1991.

1. What to see

Rakai Pikatan, king of the the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty is considered as the founder of this majestic temple complex. It was an answer to the Buddhist Sailendra Dynasty's Borobudur and Sewu temples nearby. According to an inscription from 856 AD, the temple was built to honor Lord Shiva and its original name was Shiva-grha (the House of Shiva) or Shiva-laya (the Realm of Shiva).

The temple was used as a royal temple during the Mataram kingdom, it was even extended with hundreds of pervara temples around the main temple. Golden age of Prambanan ceased by the 930s when the court was moved to East Java by the founder of the Isyana Dynasty. The reason for this act remains unknown, but it is likely that an eruption of volcano Merapi put an end to the blossom of the Prambanan area. The abandoned temple soon began to deteriorate.

Collin Mackenzie, a surveyor in the service of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, father of Singapore discovered the ruins in 1811. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918, the main building was completed around 1953.

1.1. Shiva temple

The Shiva temple is the tallest and largest structure in Prambanan complex with its 47 metres height and 34 metres width. The building is encircled with galleries adorned with bas-reliefs telling the story of Ramayana carved on the inner walls of the balustrades. Interior of the temple remains off-limits for safety reasons.

1.2. Brahma temple

Brahma temple faces east and contains one chamber with the statue of Brahma. The temple measures 20 metres wide and 33 metres tall. The bas-reliefs along the balustrades on the gallery around the temple depict the Ramayana legend. They illustrate how Sita, the wife of Rama, is abducted by Ravana. The monkey king Hanuman brings his army to help Rama and rescue Sita.

1.3. Vishnu temple

Vishnu temple faces east and houses one the statue of Vishnu in its chamber. The temple measures 20 metres wide and 33 metres tall. The bas-reliefs along the balustrades on the gallery around the temple depict Krishnayana, the story of lord Krishna.

1.4. Nandi temple

Just in front of Shiva temple stands Nandi temple which contains a statue of Nandi bull, the vehicle (vahana) of Lord Shiva. Besides it, there are also other statues, the statue of Chandra the god of moon and Surya the god of sun. Chandra stands on his carriage pulled by 10 horses, and the statue of Surya also stands on a carriage pulled by 7 horses.

1.5. Pervara temples

Only scattered stones remained from most of the 237 temples. Pervara temples are guardian or complementary temples built in identical design. They were arranged in four rows around the central temples.

2. When to see

Prambanan temple complex is open daily from 7am – 6pm.


3. Location
4. How to get there

If travelling on a package tour to Java, you can be sure that Prambanan will not be missing from your journey.

If staying on the island of Bali, you can consider to take a one-day Yogyakarta guided trip. These trips usually include the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples along with the sights of Yogyakarta. You'll arrive at the airport of Denpasar very early in the morning, fly to Yogyakarta with a local Indonesia flight (Lion Air / Garuda), enjoy the above mentioned monuments and finally get back to your hotel in Bali in the evening. It is important to know that you have to purchase the airplane tickets in advance, but it might be difficult, since Indonesian air flights only accept VISA cards issued in a few countries. Lion Air simply doesn't accept any European or US card, Garuda only accepts cards issued in Western Europe. If you are lucky, you can purchase your tickets in cash a few days before your excursion in a nearby country like Singapore.

It is not recommended to drive on your own in Indonesia due to the general negligance of driving rules. Singposts are written with Latin alphabet, but it might be difficult to find remote places on your own. The best solution is to rent a car with a driver for an entire day.

5. Where to stay

There are hotels in Yogyakarta for every budget: from backpackers to luxuary 5* hotels.

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