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Prambanan Temple in Indonesi

Written By Rio Gonzales on Monday, April 16, 2012 | Monday, April 16, 2012

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia, located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia. It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples
It was built around 850 CE by either Rakai Pikatan, king of the second Mataram dynasty, or Balitung Maha Sambu, during the Sanjaya Dynasty. Not long after its construction, the temple was abandoned and began to deteriorate. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918. The main building was completed in around 1953. Much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites. A temple will only be rebuilt if at least 75% of the original stones are available, and therefore only the foundation walls of most of the smaller shrines are now visible and with no plans for their reconstruction.

Rehabilitation efforts to restore the temple due to 27 May 2006 earthquakeThe temple was damaged during the earthquake in Java in 2006. Early photos suggest that although the complex appears to be structurally intact, damage is significant. Large pieces of debris, including carvings, were scattered over the ground. The temple has been closed to the public until damage can be fully assessed. The head of Yogyakarta Archaeological Conservation Agency stated that: "it will take months to identify the precise damage".[2] However, some weeks later in 2006 the site re-opened for visitors. The immediate surroundings of the Hindu temples remain off-limits for safety reasons.
The compound is assembled of eight main shrines or candis, and more than 250 surrounding individual candis. The three main shrines, called Trisakti (Ind. "three sacred places"), are dedicated to the three gods: Shiva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Keeper and Brahma the Creator.

Main shrine (Shiva) of Prambanan temple complexThe Shiva shrine at the center contains four chambers, one in every cardinal direction. While the first contains a three meter high statue of Shiva, the other three contain smaller statues of Durga, his wife, Agastya, a risi, and Ganesha, his son.

The shrine of Durga is also called the temple of Loro Jonggrang (slender virgin), after a Javanese princess, daughter of King Boko. She was forced to marry a man she did not love, Bandung Bondowoso. After long negotiations she eventually agreed to the marriage, under the condition that her prince should build her a temple ornamented with 1000 statues, between the setting and the rising of the sun.

Helped by supernatural beings, the prince was about to succeed. So the princess ordered the women of the village to set a fire in the east of the temple, attempting to make the prince believe that the sun was about to rise. As the cocks began to crow, fooled by the light, the supernatural helpers fled. The prince, furious about the simple trick, changed Loro Jongrang to stone. She became the last and the most beautiful of the thousand statues.

The temple compound.The two other main shrines are that of Vishnu, to the north, and the one of Brahma, facing to the south. In front of each main temple is a smaller candis on the east side, dedicated to the mounts of the respective god - the bull Nandi for Shiva, the gander Angsa for Brahma, and Vishnu's Eagle Garuda, which serves as the national symbol of Indonesia (cf. also to the airline Garuda Indonesia).

The bas-reliefs along the twenty sides of the temple depict the Ramayana legend. They illustrate how Sita, the wife of Rama, is abducted by an evil ogre. The monkey king Hanuman brings his army to help Rama and rescue Sita. This story is also shown by the Ramayana Ballet, regularly performed at full moon in front of the illuminated Prambanan complex.

The temple complex is surrounded by more than 250 individual temples of different sizes, called Pewara, believed to have been offered to the king as a sign of submission. The Pewara are arranged in four rows around the central temples, according to the rank of the people allowed to enter them. While the central row was accessible to the priests only, the other three were reserved for the nobles, the knights and the simple people respectively.

Not far to the west are found Candi Kalasan and Candi Sari, and to the south the Ratu Boko on higher ground. Each provides further clues and details of the Prambanan complex and some of its mysteries.

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