Prambanan

Prambanan is a complex of ancient Hindu temples in Central Java, Indonesia.

Understand

Candi Lara Jonggrang

Prambanan is a collection of massive Hindu temples (candi) built by the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in almost any other country a magnificent ancient monument on the scale of Prambanan would quickly be designated a national symbol. In Indonesia, though, it is somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring nature of nearby Borobudur. The two sites are quite different in style with Hindu Prambanan being a collection of sharp, jaggedly sculpted towers in contrast to the vast horizontal bulk of Buddhist Borobudur.

History

A temple was first built at the site around 850 CE by Rakai Pikatan and expanded extensively by King Lokapala and Balitung Maha Sambu the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom. According to the Shivagrha inscription of 856 CE, the temple was built to honour Lord Shiva and its original name was Shiva-grha (the House of Shiva) or Shiva-laya (the Realm of Shiva). According to Shivagrha inscription, a public water project to change the course of a river near Shivagrha Temple was conducted during the construction of the temple. It is therefore slightly later but more or less contemporaneous with Borobudur. In the 10th century the temple was largely abandoned after the Mataram dynasty moved its court base to East Java.

The Legend of the Slender Virgin

After her father King Boko was defeated in battle, the Javanese princess Loro Jonggrang reluctantly agreed to marry his victor Prince Bandung, but only if he built a temple with 1,000 statues before sunrise. With the help of spirits, Bandung had completed 999, when the princess lit a fire to the east of the temple. Fooled into thinking it was dawn, roosters in the neighbouring village crowed and the spirits fled and a furious Prince Bandung changed her into stone, the last and most beautiful of the statues.

Most of the main temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century and the huge complex lay largely forgotten in the jungle. Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. In 1811, a surveyor working for Thomas Stamford Raffles came upon the ruins of Prambanan by chance. The British and Raffles were not in power in Java long enough to really do much about Prambanan and looting became rife with Dutch residents adorning their gardens with priceless statues and local people taking foundation stones and using them as construction material. Proper restoration began only in 1930 and still continues today.

Architecture

Originally there were 240 temples in the complex but many of them have deteriorated or been looted leaving just scattered stones. There are three zones:

Modern Day Prambanan

Prambanan was designated at a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and its global profile as a tourist attraction rose markedly in the 1990s. The main Candi Loro Jonggrang is in a large, well-maintained park making this a pleasant and user-friendly place for visitors.

To understand a little of Prambanan and to get around all of the temples, you will need to set aside the best part of a full day. The complex opens at 06:00 so it is no bad thing to stay the night beforehand and get in before the crowds arrive from 09:00. This would also allow a leisurely return to Yogyakarta or Solo in the mid-afternoon taking in some of the other archaeological sites on the Prambanan plain. As a foreigner, be aware that you will be required to wear a sarong as a sign of respect for the site. The sarong is only necessary for the main complex after which they will take the sarong back so go there first if you find the sarong warm to wear. This is a wet part of Java and a visit outside of the November to March period has the best chance of providing a clear, sunny day.

NOTE: In the wake of the May 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake, some parts of Prambanan sustained significant damage. The big temple, Candi Siwa, was 60 percent damaged and subsequently renovated. Renovation of the Candis and the Prambanan site have been finished and were opened at the end of 2014. All temples are currently (December 2014) open.

Tourism Information Office

Get in

The nearest major cities are Yogyakarta, 17 kilometres to the south west and Solo about 40 kilometres to the north east. The main road connecting these two large cities passes right by Prambanan and this makes transport links very straightforward. The nearest actual town to Prambanan is Klaten, about 3 km to the north.

By plane

Yogyakarta airport is well served by domestic flights from Jakarta, Bali, other major domestic destinations and internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It is just ten kilometres from here to Prambanan. A taxi direct from the airport should cost about Rp 50,000 and take about 20 minutes.

Solo airport is much smaller but has several flights each day from Jakarta and is also connected internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Prambanan is about 90 minutes by bus from Solo airport.

By bus

TransJogja, Yogyakarta's newest bus service, also serves a direct route to Prambanan. The bus is air-conditioned and comfortable, but sometimes can be overcrowded. Take number 1A from Malioboro street (Rp 3,000 one way). The first one leaves around 06:00, then every 20 minutes. Depending on traffic, the journey normally takes around 30 minutes, but can take an hour when traffic is heavy for only about 20 kilometers drive. From the terminal station, cross the busy road, turn right, and walk around 300 metres to the pedestrian entrance.

There are regular buses from Yogyakarta's Umbulharjo bus station (30 minutes), as well as a wide variety of tour agency-operated minibuses shuttling directly from Yogyakarta's backpacker haunts. Local buses to/from Solo are also easy to find (90 minutes).

By taxi

A taxi from the center of Yogyakarta costs around Rp. 60,000. The driver may be prepared to wait free of charge for an hour or so and then take you back for the same price, giving a total cost of Rp. 120,000.

Get around

Prambanan can be fairly easily covered on foot. If the midday heat is too much, a toy train shuttles around the park for Rp 5,000.

See

Candi Siva is the tallest temple at Prambanan.

The main site of modern day Prambanan complex is inside a large, landscaped park. The complex is open daily from 06:00 to 18:00. Try to get there early to beat the heat. Entry costs Indonesians Rp 10,000 while foreigners are charged Rp 225,000 or Rp 100,000 if a student. Guides can be hired at the ticket office for about Rp 75,000, which is a good idea as it's a complex monument.

Buddhist Candi Sewu

Around Prambanan

The map of temples around Prambanan Plain.

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 opinion. 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; Rp 5,000 is sufficient.

Candi Plaosan, near Prambanan
Ramayana Ballet performance at Prambanan

Do

Buy

Hawkers hassle tourists near the entry gate but will generally take the hint after a terima kasih (thank you) or two.

There is a large market just outside the gate selling lots of touristy souvenirs.

Eat

There are many good value Indonesian warungs in and around Prambanan. A good tip is to follow the local Indonesian tourists - they always know which has the best food.

Drink

Drink hawkers are omnipresent. The museum also has a drinks stand and there are benches scattered throughout the park for a quick break.

After a walk around Prambanan in the heat, a glass of fresh local juice or a pitcher of iced Javanese tea goes down very well.

Sleep

There are a few hotels here if you want to spend the night (not such a bad idea if you want to see Prambanan before the crowds arrive and before the heat of the day sets in). However, most visitors take a day trip from Yogyakarta or Solo.

Connect

The telephone area code for Prambanan is the same as Solo - 0271

The nearest police station to Prambanan is 3 km away at Klaten although officials at Prambanan more or less take the role of policemen.

Go next

Travelling other than by car ? - public transport is available to take you east or west from here


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, November 05, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.