"The city of Temples" Prambanan by trisanna

Prambanan Travel Guide: 122 reviews and 421 photos

The city of Prambanan is a short drive away, located 17 kms north of the city of Yogyakarta. This is definately one of the highlights of central Java. Pramabanan is a complex of various candis or temples and the best of Java's remaining examples of ancient Hindu architecture.

Most people visit the biggest site known as Prambanan. It comprises of three of the largest temples. Candi Shiva is the biggest of the three structures.The top of the temple is around 47 meters tall. Candi Vishnu and Candi Brahma are on either side. All the temples have outstanding carved reliefs. Candi Shiva and Candi Brahma's carvings tells the full story of the Ramayana, while Candi Vishnu's carvings depict tales of the of Lord Krishna's life in the Mahabharata. Opposite the main temples, there are smaller shrines, which contain an image of the god's vehicle. For instance, opposite Shiva is a small shrine containing a statue of Nandi, the bull.

The large complex of Prambanan is the most impressive, but there are many beautiful temples in the surrounding area. Around nine or so. Unfortunately, many of these other temples have run out of money for restoration by UNESCO or depend on tourist's donations-so many are still in ruins. It will take time to put many of these temples back together again. Hopefully this will happen in the future, but sadly many buddhas are without heads and various objects have been stolen. It's important to never buy any buddha heads or other pieces of ruins(carvings,etc)-since they create demand for more stealing and ruining these beautiful temples. Many guides will also mention that some of the big buddha images from these various temples are mostly living in Amsterdam.

Candi Plaosan was one of my favorite sites. It's has two beautiful spires and lots of detail. Many carvings. This place will haunt you with its beauty.

Candi Sewu is a larger site. One large structure surrounded by various ruins. Supposedly built around 850 AD.

Further out of the city, you will find many of the other temples.

Candi Kalasan is a small structure, which is surrounded by people's homes. Two thirds of this Buddhist structure have collapsed. Supposedly this structure was dedicated to the female Bodhisattva named Tara.

During the May to October season, during full moons. The Ramayana ballet is performed outside near the Prambanan larger temples. We didn't have time to go, but heard it's beautiful-but long.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:beautiful Khmer like temples
  • Cons:can be crowded, lack of funds for temple restoration
  • In a nutshell:you have to be amazed that they built all this in the 9th century!
  • Last visit to Prambanan: May 2005
  • Intro Updated Jun 1, 2005
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