Monday, June 7, 2010

Prambanan : Exotic Hindu Temple






      Prambanan is a Hindu temple in Central Java, Indonesia. The temple was built in 850 CE, and is composed of 8 main shrines and 250 surrounding smaller ones. Prambanan temple is extraordinarily beautiful building constructed in the tenth century during the reigns of two kings namely Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung.


Prambanan temple has three main temples in the primary yard, namely Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva temples. Those three temples are symbols of Trimurti in Hindu belief. All of them face to the east. Each main temple has accompanying temple facing to the west, namely Nandini for Shiva, Angsa for Brahma, and Garuda for Vishnu. Besides, there are 2 flank temples, 4 kelir temples and 4 corner temples. In the second area, there are 224 temples.



Prambanan is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’. According to the legend once upon a time, there was a young and powerful man named Bandung Bondowoso. He wanted to marry a beautiful princess named Roro Jonggrang. Her father, the king, agreed and forced her to marry Bandung Bondowoso. But Roro Jonggrang did not love him yet could not refuse him.


After careful consideration, she thought of a way to refuse Bondowoso, whose magical power was well-known. She decided she would agree but only if Bondowoso built 1,000 temples in one night before the break of dawn.


She insisted that the work must be completed before the rooster crowed, something she believed was impossible. But with the help of genies and his own magical powers, Bondowoso managed to complete 999 temples. Panicked, Jonggrang told the women of her village to start pounding rice so that the rooster would wake up and begin to crow. When Bondowoso heard this he was deeply disappointed and wildly enraged. When he found out that Roro Jonggrang had made the roosters crow, feeling to be cheated, Bondowoso who only completed 999 statues cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.


The statue of a slender virgin graces the main Prambanan temple.Entering Shiva temple, there are four rooms. One main room contains Shiva statue, while the other three rooms contain the statues of Durga (Shiva's wife), Agastya (Shiva's teacher), and Ganesha (Shiva's son). Durga statue is said to be the statue of Roro Jonggrang in the above legend.


Quite attractive accompanying temple is Garuda temple that is located close to Vishnu temple. This temple keeps a story of half-bird human being named Garuda. Garuda is a mystical bird in Hindu mythology. The figure is of golden body, white face, red wings, with the beak and wings similar to eagle's. It is assumed that the figure is Hindu adaptation of Bennu (means 'rises' or 'shines') that is associated with the god of the Sun or Re in Old Egypt mythology or Phoenix in Old Greek mythology. Garuda succeeded in saving his mother from the curse of Aruna (Garuda's handicapped brother) by stealing Tirta Amerta (the sacred water of the gods).


After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia.
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