The Next Indonesia Corner

 

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. Butm Sita 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, he turned her into stone, The statue of a slender virgin graces the main Prambanan temple, while a group of temples nearby is called the Candi Sewu or the Thousand Temples.

The temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma -¬ the creator and Wisnhu – the sustainer. The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples. Most of the main temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century and the huge complex lie largely forgotten in the jungle.After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. In 1811, a surveyor working for Thomas Stamford Raffles came upon the ruins of Prambanan by pure chance. It is somewhat ironic that the very brief British rule of Java led to the re-discovery of both Borobudur and Prambanan. The British and Raffles were not in power in Java long enough to really do much about Prambanan though and looting became rife with Dutch residents adorning their gardens with priceless statues and local people taking foundation stones and using them as construction material. Proper restoration began only in 1930 and still continues today. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia.The grandeur, complexity, and integrated architectural concept of Prambanan makes this a truly amazing structure. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.