Prambanan Temple, located near Yogyakarta city in Indonesia, is the largest Hindu temple in the country and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. The temple complex, which consists of 240 temples, was built in the 9th century CE by the Sanjaya Dynasty of the Mataram Kingdom, which followed Hinduism as its religion.
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and features elaborate carvings and sculptures depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other Hindu epics. The temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its outstanding universal value and cultural significance.
The temple is a testimony to India’s deep-rooted cultural ties with Southeast Asia, which date back to ancient times. India’s influence can be seen in various aspects of Southeast Asian culture, such as language, literature, art, architecture, religion, and philosophy.
A Legend of Love and Deception
Apart from its historical and architectural importance, Prambanan Temple also has a fascinating legend associated with it. According to the legend, the temple was built by Prince Bandung Bondowoso, who wanted to marry Princess Loro Jonggrang, the daughter of the king he defeated in battle.
The princess agreed to marry him on one condition: he had to build 1000 statues before sunrise. The prince accepted the challenge and enlisted the help of spirits to complete the task. However, when the princess saw that he was about to succeed, she tricked the roosters into crowing, making the spirits flee and leaving the work unfinished.
The prince was furious and cursed the princess to become the 1000th statue, which is believed to be the statue of Durga, the consort of Shiva, in the main temple. The legend adds a touch of romance and mystery to the temple, and attracts many visitors who want to see the statue of the cursed princess.
A Site of Restoration and Conservation
Prambanan Temple was abandoned around the 10th century, possibly due to a volcanic eruption, a political shift, or a religious change. The temple was left to decay and was damaged by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and storms. The temple was rediscovered by the British administration in 1811, but the restoration work did not begin until 1930.
The restoration work is still ongoing, as only 22 temples have been fully restored so far. The restoration work follows the UNESCO norms, which do not allow more than 25% of new stones to be used. The restoration work also involves the use of interlocking stones, which is the original technique used by the builders.
The restoration work is supported by various countries, including India, which has been generous with its funds and expertise. India and Indonesia share a strong bond of friendship and cooperation, based on their shared cultural heritage and common interests. The restoration of Prambanan Temple is a symbol of their mutual respect and appreciation.
A Destination for Tourism and Culture
Prambanan Temple is a popular destination for tourists, both domestic and international, who want to experience the beauty and diversity of Indonesia’s culture. The temple offers various attractions and activities for visitors, such as:
- Exploring the temple complex and admiring the intricate carvings and sculptures
- Watching the Ramayana ballet, a traditional dance performance based on the Hindu epic, which is held every evening at an open-air theater near the temple
- Visiting the nearby Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Enjoying the scenic views of the surrounding landscape, which includes rice fields, mountains, and volcanoes
Prambanan Temple is a must-see for anyone who wants to learn more about Indonesia’s rich and diverse culture, which has been influenced by India and other civilizations. The temple is a living monument that showcases the ancient glory and the modern vibrancy of Indonesia.