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The story of Candi Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is not only a tale of ancient folklore, but also one of exceptional cultural heritage. The Prambanan temple complex, consisting of hundreds of temples, including the towering main temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is one of the most awe-inspiring architectural wonders in the world. Here’s a brief history of Prambanan and how it earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Legends and Lore of Candi Prambanan
According to ancient Javanese mythology, the kingdom of Prambanan was ruled by a prince named Bandung Bondowoso. The prince was infatuated with Princess Roro Jonggrang but her father refused the prince’s proposal. In retribution, the prince used his magical powers to turn Roro Jonggrang into a statue of stone.
The legend survived through generations, and it was believed that the magnificent temple complex was built by Bandung Bondowoso as an homage to his lost love. While the story remains unproven, this romantic tale continues to attract visitors from far and wide.
The Construction of Prambanan
Construction of the Prambanan temple complex began around the 9th century AD in the Mataram kingdom. The prime objective of the project was to create a tribute to the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The design of the building is a sophisticated masterpiece with intricate details, including sculptures and carvings that are still visible today. The temples are arranged in three main zones – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva – with the crown jewel being the massive 47-meter high Shiva temple in the middle.
Rediscovery of Prambanan
Despite being one of the most significant historical sites in the world, the complex was abandoned for hundreds of years until its rediscovery in the late 19th century by a Dutch archaeologist. Over the next few decades, temple experts pieced together the history and design of the structure and worked to conserve the temples.
Today, the Prambanan temple complex is one of the most visited sites in Indonesia, attracting over a million visitors each year. In 1991, UNESCO designated the complex as a World Heritage site and helps to protect, restore and conserve the area.
Cultural Significance of Prambanan
Prambanan occupies a very special place in the cultural heritage of Indonesia. The temple reflects the cultural influence of both Hinduism and Buddhism in the region, an essential premise of Indonesian culture.
The temple complex is not only a significant historical site, but it also serves as a living monument of the cultural and religious diversity of the region, providing a glimpse into the ancient Indonesian world and its evolution.
Exploring Prambanan Today
To visit Prambanan, it is best to start early in the morning when the temperature is cooler, and the sun is less intense. It’s possible to explore the temple’s grandeur and learn about the history and cultural significance of the complex by hiring a guide.
Many temples and buildings have undergone renovation throughout the years, with some areas now available for climbing to the upper level.
As one of the most significant historical sites in the world, the complex of Prambanan temple provides a unique opportunity to explore the ancient Indonesian world and its culture.
As tourism continues to grow in Indonesia, it’s essential to protect such starkly significant places. We encourage you to explore the Candi Prambanan temple complex and appreciate its historical and cultural value.
Goodbye for now, and we hope you enjoy exploring more interesting articles on our site.
Image credit: Rizky Subagja