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Indonesia’s Prambanan Temple Compounds: Centuries-Old Heritage, Part 1 of 2

2022-05-21
Language:English
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The temple of Prambanan is a complex consisting of over 200 temples and is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Together with the Buddhist temples of Lumbung, Bubrah, and Sewu, Prambanan was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Known collectively as Prambanan Temple Compounds, these historically significant structures are located within the Prambanan Archaeological Park.

We had the pleasure of learning more about the Prambanan Temple Compounds’ rich heritage from Mr. Andi Putranto, an archaeologist and historian who lectures at Universitas Gadjah Mada’s Department of Archaeology. He begins by explaining the history of the Prambanan Temple. The stone construction of the Prambanan Temple dates from the middle of the 9th century AD, an era when the Sanjaya dynasty rose to sovereignty in the Central Javanese Medang Kingdom. The building of the Prambanan Temple complex was likely instigated by the King Rakai Pikatan in dedication to the Hindu Trimurti – the three aspects, or manifestations, of God – Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva.

Mr. Andi Putranto describes the Prambanan Temple Complex. “It has around 224 Perwara temples, and there are 16 main temples. Wahana Temple, Kelir Temple, and Apit Temple are on the first yard.” “The construction of temples for Hinduism and Buddhism, but that can be built side by side in the sense that the location is not too far away, shows the peace and tolerance between religions that developed during that time.”

“According to local legend that developed in the community around the Prambanan Temple location and also in Yogyakarta, and Central Java in general, there is a story about Roro Jonggrang with Bandung Bondowoso.” Prince Bandung Bondowoso turned the princess into stone, into the very Durga statue that can be seen at the northern chamber of the central spire of Shiva’s shrine, at Prambanan Temple. “Now this is a goddess figure named Durga Mahishasura Mardini. This character is actually a female, or Sakti aspect, or a partner of Lord Shiva in a fierce form, a form that may be scary.” “She is the symbol of the eradication of evil.”

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