Did You Know The Prambanan Temple Is The Largest Hindu Temple Site In Indonesia With 240 Temples?

by Gizel Menezes
Did You Know The Prambanan Temple Is The Largest Hindu Temple Site In Indonesia With 240 Temples?

Indonesia is known to be a melting pot of ancient traditions, cultures, and history and is home to some of the world’s most marvellous architectural structures. One of these is the Prambanan Temple.

Built in the 9th century, it is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia, housing about 240 temples structures.

The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is dedicated to the Trimurti – Shiva (the Transformer), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Brahma (the Creator). The highlight of the temple lies in the central compound, where eight major and eight minor temples are assembled on a raised platform, creating an architectural crescendo, the highest of which is Candi Shiva Mahadeva. ‘Candi’ means temple or shrine.

Image Courtesy: Temple Purohit

History Of The Prambanan Temple

The building of Prambanan commenced in the middle of the 9th century, around 50 years after Borobudur, which is the largest Buddha temple in the world. While little is known about the early history of the temple, it is thought to have built by Rakai Pikatan to commemorate the return of the Hindu dynasty in Java.

However, in the mid-16th century, a great earthquake toppled many of the temples, and Prambanan remained in ruins for years. While efforts were made to clear the site in 1855, it was only in 1937 that reconstruction was first attempted. In 1953, the reconstruction of the main Shiva temple was completed and inaugurated by an Indonesian politician Sukarno.

Prambanan again suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake. Although the main temples survived, hundreds of stone blocks collapsed. Today, the main structures have been restored, but a lot of work remains to be done.

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Image Courtesy: Flickr

Architecture Of The Prambanan Temple

The temple follows the typical Hindu architectural traditions based on the Vastu Shastra and has incorporated the Mandal temple plan arrangements.

The whole complex contains 240 individual stone temples, many of which are scattered in ruins. The temple complex is divided into three zones. The outer zone is an open space, which serves as a yard for priests or worshippers, whereas the middle zone has 224 small shrines arranged into four concentric rows around the central compound. These shrines are called Candi Perwara, meaning ‘guardian temples’.

Image Courtesy: All Indonesia Tourism

The Candi Shiva Mahadeva is centrally located and is one of the finest temples in the complex. Lavishly carved, the main spire of the temple soars as high as 47m high. The inner wall of the gallery encircling the temple contains vibrant scenes from the Ramayana.

The impressive Candi Vishnu touches 33m and sits north of Candi Shiva Mahadeva. It houses a four-armed image of Vishnu inside the inner sanctum. Candi Brahma is Candi Vishnu’s twin temple. Located south of Candi Shiva Mahadeva, it is again adorned with the final scenes of the Ramayana. In the inner chamber, a four-headed statue of Brahma is beautifully crowned.

The Prambanan Temple, on the whole, attracts many visitors from around all the world all year round! You too must visit this architectural brilliance once in your life and experience divinity and calm like no other!

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