Indian Temples in Foreign Lands : Parambanan Temple, Indonesia
This fortnight Religion World is taking you to the tour of breathtaking Parambanan Temple in Indonesia. Parambanan is a world Heritage site and is built in the 10th century, this is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia.
This is the most famous and also the most magnificent of Central Java’s temples or more precisely complex of temples. Situated about 15 kilometers from Yogyakarta, the top of the main shrine is visible from a great distance and rises high above the scattered ruins of the former temples. Prambanan is the masterpiece of Hindu culture of the tenth century. The slim building soaring up to 47 meters makes its beautiful architecture incomparable. Seventeen kilometers east of Yogyakarta, King Balitung Maha Sambu built the Prambanan temple in the middle of the ninth century. Its parapets are adorned with bas-reliefs depicting the famous Ramayana story. This magnificent Shivaite temple derives it name from the village where it is located.
While Loro Jonggrang, dating from the 9th century, is a brilliant example of Hindu religious bas-reliefs, Sewu, with its four pairs of Dwarapala giant statues, is Indonesia’s largest Buddhist complex including the temples of Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu (Gana temple). The Hindu temples are decorated with reliefs illustrating the Indonesian version of the Ramayana epic which are masterpieces of stone carvings. These are surrounded by hundreds of shrines that have been arranged in three parts showing high levels of stone building technology and architecture from the 8th century AD in Java. With over 500 temples, Prambanan Temple Compounds represents not only an architectural and cultural treasure, but also a standing proof of past religious peaceful cohabitation.
Prambanan Temple is locally known as the Roro Jonggrang Temple, or the Temple of the “Slender Virgin”, it is the biggest and most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. The temple complex of Prambanan lies among green fields and villages. It has eight shrines, of which the three main ones are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The main temple of Shiva rises to a height of 130 feet and houses the magnificent statue of Shiva’s consort, Durga. There are 224 temples in the complex; three of them, the main temples are Brahma Temple in the north, Vishnu Temple in the south, and the biggest among the three which lies between Brahma and Vishnu temples is Shiva Temple (47 meters high).
Rising above the centre of the last of these concentric squares are three temples decorated with reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and three temples dedicated to the animals who serve them.
Prambanan Temple Compounds consist of Prambanan Temple (also called Loro Jonggrang), Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple and Lumbung Temple. Prambanan Temple itself is a complex consisting of 240 temples. All the mentioned temples form the Prambanan Archaeological Park and were built during the heyday of Sailendra’s powerful dynasty in Java in the 8th century AD. These compounds are located on the border between the two provinces of Yogyakarta and Central Java on Java Island.
Prambanan Temple Compounds comprises of two groups of buildings which includes Loro Jonggrang, Sewu complexes, Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu (Gana). The 508 stone temples of various shapes and sizes are either in a complete and preserved condition or have been retained as ruins. This site includes all elements necessary to express its exceptional significance and is well maintained. There are no threats of development or neglect; however the area is prone to natural threats such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Prambanan Temple Compounds contains the original structures that were built in the 9th century AD. The temples collapsed due to earthquake, volcanic eruption and a shift of political power in the early 11th century, and they were rediscovered in the 17th century. These compounds have never been displaced or changed. Restoration works have been conducted since 1918, both in original traditional method of interlocking stone and modern methods using concrete to strengthen the temple structure. Even though extensive restoration works have been done in the past and as recently as after the 2006 earthquake, great care has been taken to retain the authenticity of the structures.
Two theatres have been provided in the temple to enjoy sunrise behind the glory of Prambanan Temple. Visitors should be at the location – in the area of The Open Air Theater and archaeological park of the temple – before sunrise at about 5:00 o’clock in the morning. The First open-air theatre was built on the southern side of the temple in 1960 and the second was built on the western side of the temple in 1988. During full moon evenings in the month from May to October, the Ramayana ballet is performed right here. Perhaps one of the most majestic temples in the South-East Asia, Prambanan attracts many admirers each year from abroad.