Prambanan, a Hindu temple built a bit more than a millennium ago in central Java, is a UNESCO world heritage site near Yogyakarta and a massive tourist attraction, so of course I had to go take a look.
In a weird twist of history, a couple of centuries after it was built, Candi (temple) Prambanan was forgotten and “lost” from records. Since the temple was not very sturdy (it’s basically a large pile of rocks), it was also flattened by a nearby earthquake. And so, the temple remained hidden and unknown for many years until rediscovered by an explorer commissioned by Sir Raffles (the founder of Singapore). Since then, archaeologists have been working on rebuilding the temples, to mixed success.
Prambanan is actually a collection of a couple different buildings, with each supposedly dedicated to a different god. I couldn’t tell much of a difference though, they all looked similar to me. Different sizes, but same shape:
Since the archaeologists are still working on restoring Prambanan, there’s still a lot of building blocks lying around, wreckage from the earthquakes that shook apart many of the temples. Good luck putting all that back together! I imagine it’s like putting together a complicated Lego model when missing both the instruction manual and a good chunk of the blocks.
Inside each of the buildings, there is an inner chamber decorated with a single statue, reflecting which of the gods the building is dedicated to (Shiva, Vahana, Vishnu, etc). Does anybody more familiar with Hindu culture know why there’s a cow?
There’s also these two other temples near here, also somewhat destroyed by the earthquakes, but much less impressive:
– Candi Sewu
As a side note, Indonesia totally takes advantage of Prambanan being a popular tourist attraction amongst western tourists – Indonesian citizens can enter for $2, whereas it costs foreigners $20. This just rankles me.