Prambanan

Today I saw Prambanan temple:

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Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia.

And Sewu temple:

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Sewu, the second largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia after Borobudur.

They are only 800 meters apart within the same ticketed tourist attraction/UNESCO world heritage site. The whole thing is not far from Yogyakarta, so I didn’t have much of an adventure getting out there. I did get there around dawn, but the complex didn’t open until later. It was hazy anyway so the photos wouldn’t have been great.

Both structures are enormous – the main building at Prambanan is 48 meters tall. Like Borobudur, Prambanan was ‘rediscovered’ during the brief British rule of Java in the early 19th century. I assume it’s they same with Sewu since they are so close together. They were in ruins when they were discovered, and no one did much to rebuild or protect the temples for the next 100 years or so. By the time they did, a lot was missing. Wikipedia says that the westerners liked to take statues for garden ornaments and locals reused temple stones for building materials. The restoration effort is ongoing today, although so much building material is missing that lots of the smaller outlying buildings will remain broken down. I like it that way – The jumble of stone is a good reminder of how old the place is.

Borobudur, Sewu, and Prambanan were built and operated at about the same time, in the 800s CE.

There were tourists from all over the world at the temple. I spoke with Italians, Malaysians, other Americans, and of course Indonesians. The Malaysians were an ethnic Chinese family and asked me to take a photo of them in front of Prambanan. Afterward, the man told me he was a chief of police in Kuala Lampur, gave me his number, and told me to give him a call if I ever visit.

Now lots of photos. First Prambanan:

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Very detailed artwork on all of the buildings.

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The place is HUGE.

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--Each of the buildings in the Prambanan complex (6 or so?) is dedicated to a different god or gods. They all had statues inside originally, but now some are gone.

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--Two of the Prambanan structures with Gunung Merapi as a backdrop.

Lumbung temple:

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--Between Prambanan and Sewu, Lumbung temple was being rebuilt as I walked by. Here is a half ruined structure...

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...here is one that's just a foundation...

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...and these guys were putting the finishing touches on those two over there. I talked to them briefly and they seemed proud of their restoration job.

Sewu temple:

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--There were endless piles of rock at Sewu surrounding the restored main buildings. Sewu apparently means 'thousand', an exaggerated reference to the 249 structures in the complex. 240 of them are minor temples surrounding the big center building, and most of those are just piles of rock like this.

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--View from the entrance to the biggest central temple.

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--Looking out from the central building to the ruined surrounding buildings.

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--Walking around the central building.

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--Still meditating, seems undisturbed that his roof (and head) is gone.

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--Looks like these meditating statues were in all or a lot of the 240 surrounding buildings.

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One thought on “Prambanan

  1. Wow! Wish I could see it all in person. It’s hard to imagine that these sites were lost for so long. Another one of history’s mysteries.

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