Yogyakarta and the neighboring city Surakarta, also known as Solo, is located among some of Java’s and Indonesia’s largest tourist attractions, the Borobodur and Prambanan temples.

Java, Central Java. Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia. (Bjorn Grotting)
Java, Central Java. Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Prambanan, some 20 km from Yogya, was under the Sailendra dynasty built as a Hindu answer to the Buddhist Borobodur and completed in 856 AD.

Java, Central Java. Prambanan. Candi Shiva Mahadeva, Loro Jonggrang, the center of the temple complex Prambanan. (Bjorn Grotting)
Java, Central Java. Prambanan. Candi Shiva Mahadeva, Loro Jonggrang, the center of the temple complex Prambanan. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Even if Sailendra was a Buddhist kingdom a marriage between the Hindu Rakai Pikatan from the Sanjaya dynasty in the north of Java and the Sailendra princess Pramodhavardhani at the end of the 9th century helped merge these two major religions.

Java, Central Java. Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, (Bjorn Grotting)
Java, Central Java. Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

This can explain why many temples on Java, including Prambanan, contains both Hindu and Buddhist symbols. Later, when the kings moved their courts to East Java under the rule of Majapahit, this area was more or less deserted and the temple buildings collapsed, helped by several large earthquakes and plundering of stones. A large restoration project was started in 1937 and completed in 1953.

The main temple in the Prambanan complex is Candi Shiva Mahadeva, also known as Loro Jonggrang, which means “the slim virgin”. According to legends there was once a princess called Loro Jonggrang who promised a man that if he could build her a temple in only one night he would be allowed to marry her. He actually built the temple on time, but the princess announced the dawn much too early. The man became so angry because of this that he turned the princess into stone, and the statue inside this large temple is supposedly the princess herself.

Java, Central Java, Prambanan. Candi Shiva Mahadeva, Loro Jonggrang, in the background. (Bjorn Grotting)
Java, Central Java, Prambanan. Candi Shiva Mahadeva, Loro Jonggrang, in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Close to Candi Shiva Mahadeva stands the Candi Brahma and Candi Vishnu temples, in total the central temple group consists of eight large and eight smaller temples. In addition Prambanan consists of more than 240 small temples inside a radius of five km from the main complex. Prambanan is less famous than Borobodur, but many think of this monument as comparable or even more impressive. Most visitors come here via Yogyakarta or Surakarta (Solo).

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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