Candi Prambanan (Candi means Temple) or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma) the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) northeast of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta city.
The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high (154 ft) central building inside a large complex of individual temples. Prambanan attracts many visitors from across the world. 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. 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.
- Candi Lara (Loro) Jonggrang, or simply Candi Prambanan, is the largest and most-visited of the temples just to the left of the main entrance. While there were 240 temples originally built, most have long since crumbled and the main remaining attractions are the six temples of the central court, richly decorated with carved reliefs. Three of them, known as the Trimurti (“three sacred places”), are particularly important.
- Candi Siva, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, is the largest of the six, rising to a height of 47 meters. There are fine reliefs of the Ramayana in its forecourt and four chambers with statues. The largest chamber, to the east, contains a statue of Shiva himself, while the south has the sage Agastya, the west his son Ganesh (the elephant-headed) and the north his wife Durga. Durga is also known as Lara Jonggrang (“Slender Virgin”), a legendary beautiful princess turned to stone (see box).
- Candi Brahma, to the south, continues the story of the Ramayana and has a statue of Brahma the Creator inside.
- Candi Vishnu, to the north, tells the story of Vishnu’s avatar Krishna and has a statue of Vishnu the Preserver inside. Opposite the three large temples are three smaller temples originally dedicated to the vehicles of the gods. Only the statue of Nandi, Shiva’s bull, has survived.
- Candi Lumbung and Candi Bubrah, two Buddhist temples, are located several hundred meters further north. They lie in ruins and are fenced off.also candi sewu has 249 temples (the most are ruins) in the north side in the park.
- Candi Sewu, a large Buddhist temple complex meaning “one thousand temples”, is one kilometre north of the entrance gate and contains a large central temple surrounded by a cluster of smaller ones. The sheer size of the recently renovated and intricately decorated central temple is impressive but the statue niches are all empty. Take note of the Borobudur style stupas here. Entrance from the east side only.
- Prambanan Museum. North of Candi Lara Jonggrang is a poorly displayed museum laid out in a series of small houses connected by walkways. Explanations are minimal, but entry is free so you might as well take a look.
- Prambanan Audio Visual, inside the museum grounds, is the park’s term for screenings of a film entitled “Cosmic Harmony”, which lambasts the “industrial world” in general (and Jakarta in particular), and gives a fairly basic explanation of the Prambanan site. Still, it makes for a fairly entertaining half-hour break, also being air-conditioned and free of charge for foreigners (Rp 5,000 for locals). The film is available in several languages.
Other than temples within Prambanan archaeological park (Prambanan, Lumbung, Bubrah, and Sewu temples) there are also other less visited and less touristy temples around Prambanan plain. If you interested in ancient Javanese temple architecture, the off the beaten path temples on hill tops or in the middle of rice paddy through villages might interest you. After your visit to Prambanan, the Prambanan Archaeological park offer the group tour to these outlying temples, especially Ratu Boko. However if you prefer going on your own, rent and riding andong horse carriage (you must state the destination, for example Plaosan temple, and bargain for the price), or by taxi (if you took one from Yogyakarta earlier that has been waiting for you since there is no taxi around Prambanan area), or by daily rented car if you rent one earlier in Yogyakarta.
The entrance of these minor temples are guarded by archaeology bureau authorities. They will hand you guest book and expect you to fill your identity: name, origin, and your oppinion. It is for statistic purpose on visitors data of each temples. There is no specific ticket rate to enter these temples (except of Ratu Boko), however the temple guard might expect donation, although you are not obliged to, paying Rp 5,000 (US$ 0.5) in these sites is sufficient.
- Candi Plaosan. This Buddhist temple is about 2 km east of the northern edge of Prambanan park complex and is easily walkable from there. There are two large stuctures – Plaosan Lor (north) and Plaosan Kidul (south). This complex gives a good insight into the close relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism in 9th century Java. Buddhist Plaosan was built during the same reign as Candi Loro Jonggrang. The Hindu king at the time had a Buddhist wife. There are some excellent intact reliefs and statues of Boddhisattvas here although most of the statuary was looted long ago.
- Candi Sojiwan. A buddhist temple with architecture similar to Mendut temple near Borobudur. The temple reconstruction completed on December 2011. The main chamber is empty. Located in a village 1.5 kilometers south from Prambanan between Prambanan and Ratu Boko.
- Kraton Ratu Boko, south of Prambanan (take the minor road from Prambanan towards Piyungan and this palace is on your left after about 3 km), is a ruined palace or temple of uncertain origin, located on a hilltop 200 metres above the Prambanan plain (which makes for good pictures if and only if you have a zoom lens). Only some building foundations remain and it’s difficult to make any sense of the site. Now incorporated into the Borobudur Park Authority, entry to Ratu Boko is a separately charged US$10. There is a free shuttle running between Ratu Boko and Prambanan.
- Candi Barong and Candi Banyunibo. Candi Barong is located east of Ratu Boko on neighboring hill top, while Banyunibo is on the valley nearby. Barong is a Hindu temple on stone platform on the hill overlook the valley, while Banyunibo is Buddhist temple. Ask for the information and direction in Ratu Boko park authority. Take the village road southeast from Ratu Boko around 1.5 kilometers.
- Candi Ijo located further 4 kilometers southeast from Ratu Boko. The Hindu temple houses a large Linggam and Yoni symbol of Shiva. The temple is consists of one main temple with three lesser temple. Because it is located on hill top on another hill and quite remote, it is advisable to reach these temples with taxi (from Yogyakarta) or rented car.
- Candi Kalasan. This Buddhist temple is the oldest temple in Prambanan plain located 3 kilometers west of Prambanan. Take the main road from Prambanan heading back towards Yogyakarta, after 3 kilometers the temple can be seen easily on south (left) side of the road. It is the oldest temple in Prambanan plain. According to Kalasan inscription, it was built to honor Tara, a female boddhisattva. The temple throne is now empty, statue of Tara probably made from bronze and have been looted for scrap metals for centuries, however the carvings of boddhisttvas is interesting.
- Candi Sari. This Buddhist temple was the vihara (temple as well as lodging) for Buddhist monks. Located just several hundreds meters north from of Kalasan temple in a walking distance. Just cross the main road to north side, walk east heading to Prambanan direction, after several hundred meters turn left into small village road and heading north until the temple is visible. The carving of Taras and Boddhisattvas are exquisite. Examine the winged human celestial creature similar to angels on northern wall. The temple was originally coated by white plaster called ‘vajralepa’. The temple is originally two storey, with upper deck was made from wooden structure, the remnant of place to hold wooden beams can be seen.
- Candi Sambisari. This Hindu temple pre-dates Prambanan by about 30 years and was only discovered as recently as 1966 and is remarkably complete. Some archaeologists speculate that it is part of a yet to be discovered, much larger complex which lies hidden under centuries of volcanic ash and earth on the Prambanan Plain. Take the main road from Prambanan heading back towards Yogyakarta. When you reach the village of Sambisari, turn north (right) and follow the small road to the end.