Wednesday, July 3, 2013
AirAsia Trip to Yogyakarta: Prambanan Temple UNESCO World Heritage Site
Candi Prambanan is the largest temple complex in Java, just 15km north-east of Yogyakarta. It's one of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites there, the other being Borobudur. We flew AirAsia (just slightly over two hours direct from Singapore) to Yogyakarta. And Prambanan was the first place we went to, straight from the airport, as this majestic wonder is barely 15 minutes away.
There is a scale model (photo above) of the original Prambanan temple complex with some 244 temples, big and small. You can see it the nicely air-conditioned ticketing building they built specially for tourists (entrance fees 171,000 rupiah or US$17 per adult).
The model shows the original construct of the whole temple complex. At the centre of three concentric squares, it has three massive temples dedicated to the triumvirate of Hindu gods - Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu.
And then you see the real thing. Oh my. The central and largest tower (Shiva temple) looms 47m tall, and is even higher (5m) than Borobudur with its 10 floors.
The three main temples (for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are accompanied by temples dedicated to their animal vehicles - the Angsa (Swan for Vishnu), Garuda (Eagle for Brahma) and Nandi (Bull for Shiva).
There's something just otherworldly about these structures. This is amazing stone building technology back in the 9th century. The Prambanan Hindu temples were built almost at the same time as the Buddhist Borobudur not far away, showing that both religions or philosophies co-existed peacefully at the time.
In the 11th century, Prambanan was ravaged by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and political power struggles. Abandoned for many centuries, they were re-discovered by the Dutch in the 17th century. The six main temples are still intact but many of the smaller ones lie crumbled and in disarray. Restoration works have been going on since 1918.
But look: there'll always be new life sprouting from old ruins. No matter how bleak and grey it looks, there's always hope.
There's something rather Cheshire about this carving...
I think it once rested on the corner of the roof somewhere, with a smile that only it knew what was for.
The temples look glorious at sunset.
Locals and tourists alike throng the temples. Most of the structures are safe, although some warning signs are about. You'd need to wear a helmet at the big Shiva temple.
Children playing peek-a-boo at the grand Shiva temple. I guess they're ignoring the helmet rule.
This is the top part of the Shiva temple, which hold four cellas each containing a statue - Shiva, Durga (Shiva's wife), Agastya (Shiva's teacher), and Ganesha (Shiva's son).
This one is probably Agastya.
The Durga statue is also said to be the statue of Roro Jonggrang (Slender Maiden or Virgin), daughter of King Ratu Boko who was turned into stone by a spurned prince. Locally Candi Prambanan is known as the Roro Jonggrang temple, after this legend. You can read more about it here.
There are great examples of Shiva art to be seen.
When you walk around, you will see panels upon panels of masterpiece stone relief carvings. They tell amazing stories from the Indonesian version of the Ramayana epic.
I like this faded relief of possibly a prince and his consort.
Even the carvings of the birds are so accurate that scientists have been able to identify the species.
I do swear that lion looks like the Okinawa Shisa (lion-dog).
Such beautiful angular structures. The interlocking precision is stunning.
One can only imagine how awe-inspiring the temples must have been in their heydays.
These days you can even ride a pony across the verdant lawn in the Prambanan Archaelogical Gardens.
It's a long walk out of the gardens - not by the same way you came in. But it's nice and peaceful, a pleasant meditative break before you get hit by the touristy souvenir stalls outside the complex.
We headed back to Hotel Puri Asri at Magelang. It's more than an hour's drive in the evening peak traffic conditions. And then we realise the hotel is actually a sprawling resort - you need a buggy to transport you to your room.
The comfy beds were a welcome treat at the end of a long day (we had been up since 4am to catch the 7am flight).
The dresser with a couple of electrical sockets. The hotel kindly lent me all two of their travel adaptors because I forgot mine.
This Western-style bathroom is probably luxurious by local standards. Hot water was a little hard to come by, though.
This is our row of Executive twin guest rooms - nice for a group of friends to stay close by. I thought I was hearing things when I heard peacock squawks in the night, but true enough, there were a few peacocks in enclosures just in the valley below.
There are some lovely views at the resort though, especially with the mountain in the background. The resort is only 20 minutes away by car from Borobudur, and about an hour to the city of Yogyakarta (they can arrange transport for a small fee).
Next up: two more posts - Borobudur and Yogyakarta city. We really had fun exploring the city on our own, making up the itinerary as we went.
FYI: all photos were taken with the Canon EOS 6D which Canon Singapore kindly loaned me - it's such a light and easy-to-use full-frame DSLR, that I enjoyed bringing it along on my travels.
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