May 27, 2018

A trip to Jojga - Part 1: The 9th Century Prambanan Temple

Hi Guys,

Indonesia is a large country with quite a lot of tourist places around the islands. Yogyarkata (pronounced Jogjakarta and often called as Jogja) occupies a key place in the hearts of the local Indonesians for the cultural heritage and amazing food the place offers. I decided to visit Jogja over a weekend back in March during my stay in Jakarta. The main aim of the trip was to cover the two major UNESCO sites – Prambanan and Borobudur Temples.

Hence, the first stop was Prambanan Temple. Situated at around 8 km from the Airport, I took a Transjogja bus to the temple. Prambanan temple (Candi Prambanan in local) is one of the giant Hindu temple complexes in the world. Constructed in the 9th century by Sanjaya Dynasty as an answer to the Buddhist Borobudur temple, the scale and magnitude of the temple is spectacular. Supposedly, there were a total of 240 temples in the complex. Can you believe it? Of course, not all of them were big. The biggest of all of them is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is 47 Meters tall. There are two other 33 Meters tall temples dedicated to Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Naturally, the temple is called a Trimurti temple. Apart from the three major structure, there are quite a few tall temples dedicated to the vehicles of the Gods and smaller shrines dedicated to Goddess Saraswati and Laxmi. And there are 224 smaller temples surrounding the perimeter, most of which have been destroyed today.

A Side view of the Temple Complex
The three main temples from Behind -
On the Extreme left is the temple for Lord Vishnu, the one is the center if for Lord Shiva and the extreme right is of that of Lord Brahma
One of the flank temples
The temple complex is large and you have to be prepared to walk around a lot. The entrance fee is expensive. A combined pass to Prambanan and Borobudur temple costs USD 40 or IDR 540,000 (Indonesian currency can drive you crazy!) The temple was filled with a large number of local tourists, particularly school kids. Quite a few school kids flanked me as they were given an assignment to interview a foreigner.  After dictating the pre written questions and recording my answer, they wanted a photograph (Another thing you will come across is that kids will want to take photos with you, similar to how the Indian kids flank around  foreigners for a photograph).
The peripheral temples are damaged beyond restoration
A statue of Lord Ganesa in the Shiva temple

On an overcast day, it was humid and tiring to climb around all the temples to see the statues. The temple walls are filled with descriptions of Ramayana and Bhagavat Geetha. A large credit has to be given to the Dutch rulers and later the local Government for restoring the temple. The temple is in a very unstable zone with frequent Earthquakes and is also in a close proximity to many volcanoes around.
The temple is flanked with inscriptions of Ramayana - here is one of them with Lord Ram
Monument describing Earth Quake

And the fallen tower
By the time I was done with the main complex, I was tired and was not prepared to roam around the other three Buddhist Candis around in the same complex. On a good day, you can spend half a day around in this place roaming around temples, taking pictures from a few photographic points, renting a bicycle, visiting the museum and crawling through the local souvenir shops. There is also a spectacular Ramayana Ballet performance organized at regular intervals. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend them.
A Silhouette of the temples on an overcast day
After getting a few souvenirs, it was time to get to Borobudur. Booking a Grab from Prambanan made it an easy journey at a cost of IDR 145,000. Borobudur is 40 kms from Prambanan temple and after taking a stroll through the paddy fields and villages, we hit the highway. And Indonesia’s rainy season started the show. It was raining heavily and densely. Effectively, it took 2 hours to reach Borobudur where I had booked a home stay for the night. After having a no meat Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and some Chocolate Milkshake, I hit the bed.

The plan was to get up early in the morning and visit the temple before the tourist crowd hits in.

Click here to read Part 2 - Spectacular Borobudur!

Happy Reading!!!

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