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Prambanan Temple History, Architecture, Facts of Prambanan Temple

Absorb in the Alluring Architectural Beauty of Prambanan Temple

Situated in the Special Region of Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Prambanan temple, which is also called Rara Jonggrang is a Hindu temple built in the 9th century. The temple, which is dedicated to Trimurti, the three god forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, is positioned 17 kilometers northeast on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces. Being the largest temple compound, the Prambanan temple complex has about 240 temples, making it the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple compound still holds the original structures. It is however amazing to find the temple intact after surviving a few earthquakes. Some restoration works were undertaken to retain its authenticity. The Prambanan temple is recognized for its pointed architecture, as well as the 47-meter tall tower in the center.

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple | Image Resource : timetravelturtle.com

Remarkable History of Prambanan Temple

The temple was constructed by Rakai Pikatan of the Sanjaya Dynasty. He was the ruler of the Medang Kingdom in Central Java. The temple was an answer to the Borobudur and Sewu temples built during the Sailendra Dynasty. The monumental Hindu temple signifies the Medang court’s patronage to Shaivite Hinduism, a shift from Mahayana Buddhism.

The further expansion of the temple happened when King Lokapala and King Balitung Maha Sambu ruled the place. The temple was in fact dedicated to Lord Shiva according to the Shivagrha inscription in the year 856 CE. Several changes to the temple took place during the rule of Mataram Kingdom and among them, kings Daksa and Tulodong were known to have built hundreds of perwara temples around the main temple.

The temple lost its significance during the Isyana Dynasty, when the court shifted to East Java. After the eruption of Mount Merapi, the temple was abandoned. It was rediscovered by the Javanese locals and later by the Dutch East Indies in the 19th century, but it was again neglected. In 1918, the excavations by archaeologists helped its reconstruction, with appropriate restoration of the temple taking place in 1930. Nevertheless, the complete restoration happened in 1953 and it was sanctified to Hindu believers.

The restoration work was conducted again after the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. It still continues to retain the past glory of the temple.

Exquisite Architecture of Prambanan Temple

Based on Vastu Shastra, the Prambanan temple is the epitome of Hindu architecture, where the mandala temple plan forms basic design. Constructed for Lord Shiva, it was originally called Shivagrha and resembled the holy mountain Meru, which is the home of Lord Shiva. The temple complex is built on the fertile Prambanan Plain, where you can find six temples on the high courtyard. There are about 224 small temples around the courtyard.

Prambanan, like Borobudur, follows the hierarchy of temple zones, but with certain concepts. There are three distinct temple zones that delineate hierarchy horizontally and vertically. They are: Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka, where the first one symbolizes the lowest realm of humans, demons and animals. The humans come under this for they are bound by desire, lust and so on.

The second one, Bhuvarloka is for rishis and ascetics as they develop to see and understand the true value of life. The third one, Svarloka is the holiest realm which is meant for gods. This part has the largest temples dedicated to God Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. Parallel to these temples, you can find smaller shrines for mythological animals, which offered companionship and transportation to the supreme deities.

Inside the temple, you can find exquisite craftsmanship, with refined carvings depicting some scenes from the epic Ramayana. The main temple has four rooms, which includes an inner sanctuary. The idol of Shiva is positioned there and near it, there is a small chamber and it has the idol of Lord Ganesha. In front of the Shiva temple, you can find the statue of Nandi.

The temples dedicated to Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu also exhibit the scenes from the Ramayana on the walls. The carvings on the Vishnu temple however showcases Lord Krishna’s battle in the epic.

Some Facts about Prambanan Temple

When it comes to the facts, there are a few that are quite interesting.

  • The Prambanan is the second largest temple in South Asia and it is the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • There were 240 temples in the complex, which has three zones of outer, middle and inner. Nevertheless, most of the temples are destroyed, deteriorated or robbed over the time.

  • The tall three shrines are stunningly beautiful when lit in the night. The tallest temple dedicated to Shiva is of 154-foot high, being the largest in Indonesia.

  • There are five chambers in the Shiva temple. Of these, the four are in cardinal directions facing east, west, north and south.

  • The inner balustrades wall on the gallery have carvings on the ‘narrative bas-relief panels all along in the three principal temples.

  • The temple is also called the Lorojonggrang temple.

Festivals at Prambanan Temple

There are a few festivals held at the Prambanan temple. The Prambanan Jazz Festival is one of them. An annual event, musicians from different parts of the world assemble here to contribute their masterpiece every year. Another famous festival is the Prambanan Light Festival, where you can enjoy the spectacular dancing fountain, lights garden and lampion garden, being at the temple.

The other one is the Umbrella Festival, where different art communities take part in the festival. The objective here is to preserve the traditional umbrella-making art and culture of Indonesia. In addition, the temple also conducts some Abhiseka ceremonies, which is to purify the temple and surroundings. A large number of Hindu devotees take part in the ritual.

Get to Know the Prambanan Temple Timings

You can visit the temple anytime during the day; nevertheless, the Prambanan temple opening hours are between 6:00 hours to 17:00 hours. There are a lot to see and experience in the temple. The views of the architectural structures and around are breathtaking.

How to Reach Prambanan Temple?

The Prambanan temple is in Yogyakarta in Indonesia. There are several flights connecting major cities in India with Jakarta in Indonesia. You can find a few domestic flights that fly to Yogyakarta or Semarang from Jakarta. They are non-stop flights and take an average time of one hour and ten minutes. The temple is located at a distance of 17 km from Yogyakarta City.

There are mini buses that can take you to the temple. You can arrange at the tour-desk of the hotel you stay. You need to pay somewhere around 135,000 IDR (Indonesian rupiah) to 250,000 IDR. The cheapest option is to take a public bus that connects the temple. That will cost you somewhere around 3,600 IDR to 4,000 IDR.

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