Author Archives: allaboutbali

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Prambanan – Setting The Bar High

Category : News: Destinations

PRAMBANAN - SETTING THE BAR HIGH Situated in a picturesque plain dotted with archaeological monuments amongst rice paddies and villages, you will probably be impressed by the Hindu Prambanan temple complex before you even pull in to the park, the height and pointed architecture of the temples gives an impressive welcome.

Prambanan’s status as one of the most extraordinary pieces of South East Asian religious architecture was recognised by a UNESCO in 1991 when it named this complex a World Heritage Site.

prambanan (1) SCALE UP The sheer number of temples within the Prambanan Complex is extraordinary, the site is structured in a series of three ‘squares’ which radiate out in size. A raised central square, has a total of 11 temples, of various sizes, the largest being the Siva (Shiva) temple which towers dramatically at close to 50 metres high. It is flanked by temples honouring the gods Vishnu and Brahma. Three smaller temples sit in front of the larger temples and each of these is dedicated to the ‘vehicles’ or transportation of the gods represented: Nandi, the bull, for Siva; Hamsa, the sacred swan, for Brahma; and the eagle Garuda for Vishnu. The second square radiates out symmetrically and contains paths through to the central square, as well as 224 smaller temples of identical design. These temples are known as perwara temples, meaning guardian or complementary. Although most of these smaller temples are currently tumbling ruins, a few have been restored and it is not difficult to imagine the sheer magnitude of what was once here. A third and final square was also walled at some stage, is not on the same axis as the central two, and does not contain religious artefacts. It is thought that this area would have been for those involved in ceremonies to prepare offerings, and for buildings to house resident priests and pilgrims. These buildings no longer remain as the materials used have not survived over time. Loro_Djonggrang_prambanan STORY TELLER The exteriors of the temples and the balustrade areas within the central square are dense with carvings, and in particular, the Siva temple is famous for the 62 relief depictions of the Ramayana Ballet, telling the story of King Rama and his wife Sita. The Ramanaya Ballet continues to have strong links with the temple complex, with performances held on an open air stage within the temple compounds. THE LEGEND OF LORO DJONGGRANG Within the Prambanan's Siva temple is a series of chambers, dedicated to Ganesha, Bhatare Guru; a bearded priest, Siva himself, and importantly, Durga, who local folklore claims as the depiction of Loro Djonggrang, the slender virgin. The folklore of Loro Djonggrang ties this site in with the Ratu Boko Palace with Ratu Boko being the father of the princess Loro Djonggrang. A prince named Bandung desperately wanted Loro Djonggang to marry him and she refused, as she he had killed her father. He insisted, and she finally agreed on one condition. He must build 1000 temples in one night. Prince Bandung summoned up spirits to help him, and close to dawn, much to the dismay of Loro Djonggrang they had completed the 999th temple. Loro Djonggrang ordered all of the servants to light a large fire, and begin pounding rice. The roosters were fooled into thinking it was dawn and began to crow, the spirits fled, and the final temple was left unbuilt. Prince Bandung was furious and turned Loro Djonggrang into stone, representing the final temple.     GETTING THERE AND GETTING IN prambanan_detail:: Prambanan Temple Complex is located 17 km east of Yogyakarta, on the road to Solo.   Sources: Borobudur Park oficial website, credit photo: Borobodur Park website respective owner.

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Borobudur, Fine Details on Massive Scale

Category : News: Destinations

Borobudur temple After visiting the largest Buddhist monument in the world, it is not hard to see why this is the most visited tourist site in Indonesia. The list of the Seven Wonders of the World has changed many times over the years, and often Borobudur has been included. UNESCO added the monument to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1991, and has been of great influence in restoring the monument to its former glory. borobudur1 The temple is a massive step pyramid structure made from giant stone blocks, built on a hill, surrounded by valleys and hills. The levels rise up representing the stages of enlightenment. On the lower rectangular levels, stone carved panels tell the story of the Buddhist Sutras, in total there are 1,460 intricate scenes. Higher terraces switch to a circular shape on which statues of Buddha sit inside perforated bell shaped stupas. These levels are a great deal less ornate, representing a rise from earthly ‘form’ to a higher state of formlessness. 504 Buddha statues sit, facing out to nature, demonstrating a range of hand positions. The top of the monument is crowned with a massive bell shaped stupa, close to 10 metres is diameter. Currently the centre of this stupa is completely empty, and questions remain as to whether it has always been empty, or in fact held some form of icon within. Interestingly a hidden level of stone reliefs exists at the base of the monument, depicting stories of desire. Artistically Borobudur represents a melding of Indian monuments and the traditional terraced sanctuaries of Indonesian art. In plan view, the monument represents a Mandala, which is a schematized representation of the cosmos, often drawn repeatedly as a meditative mechanism. LOOKING BACK Borobudur Temple was built by Sailendra dynasty between 750 and 842 AD. In terms of world wide religious structures, it was very early, it would be 300 years before Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was constructed, 400 years before work began on the great European cathedrals. At this time the Saliendra dynasty built a great number of monuments, both Hindu and Buddhist, in the region there are even temples where the two religions combine, alternating symbolism. Abandoned at around 1100AD when the power shifted from central to western Java, ash from the local volcanoes covered Borobudur and the vivacious jungle then grew up around and over it. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles is credited with the re-discovery of Borobudur in 1814. Raffles, who is known as a great admirer of history and culture, alerted the rest of the world to its existence and commissioneda clear up of the site, removing the trees, undergrowth and earth that had built up. 1907 to 1911 saw significant restorations lead by Theo Van Erp. UNESCO and Indonesian government undertook a complete overhaul of the monument in a big renovation project from 1975 to 1983.   GETTING THERE & GETTING IN Borobudur is located 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta, 7 km south of the town of Magelang, Central Java. We recommend you organise a car and driver through either our Visitor Assistance Centre or your hotel. This way you can also have transport ready to take you back when you are ready to head back. The other alternatives are a tour group mini-bus, or even a taxi. The local buses can be a bit of a rough travel experience, but if you are game the bus leaves from Giwangan bus terminal in Yogyakarta and drops off in Borobudur bus station which is a little over 1km walk from the temple.



Sources: Borobudur Park oficial website, credit photo: Borobodur Park website respective owner.