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Prambanan

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Prambanan [1] is a complex of ancient Hindu temples in Central Java, Indonesia.

Understand

Prambanan is a collection of massive Hindu temples (candi) built by the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in almost any other country a magnificent ancient monument on the scale of Prambanan would quickly be designated a national symbol. In Indonesia though it is somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring nature of nearby Borobudur nearby. The two sites are quite different in style with Hindu Prambanan being a collection of sharp, jaggedly sculpted towers in contrast to the vast horizontal bulk of Buddhist Borobudur.

History

There is no formal written record of the construction of Prambanan. It is thought though to have been built around 850 AD by either King Rakai Pikatan of the second Mataram dynasty or Balitung Maha Sambu of the Sanjaya Dynasty. It is therefore slightly later but more or less contemporaneous with Borobudur. In the 10th century the temple was largely abandoned after the Mataram dynasty moved its court base to East Java.

The Legend of the Slender Virgin

After her father King Boko was defeated in battle, the Javanese princess Loro Jonggrang reluctantly agreed to marry his victor Prince Bandung, but only if he built a temple with 1000 statues before sunrise. With the help of spirits, Bandung had completed 999, when the princess lit a fire to the east of the temple. Fooled into thinking it was dawn, roosters in the neighboring village crowed and the spirits fled — and a furious Prince Bandung changed her into stone, the last and most beautiful of the statues.

Most of the main temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century and the huge complex lie largely forgotten in the jungle. 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.

Architecture

There are 237 temples in the complex but many of them have deteriorated or been looted leaving just scattered stones. There are three zones:

Modern Day Prambanan

Prambanan was designated at a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and its global profile as a tourist attraction rose markedly in the 1990s. The main Candi Loro Jonggrang is in a large, well-maintained park making this a pleasant and user-friendly place for visitors.

To understand a little of Prambanan and to get around all of the temples, you will need to set aside the best part of a full day. The complex opens early at 6 AM so it is no bad thing to stay the night beforehand and get in before the crowds arrive from 9 AM onwards. This would also allow a leisurely return to Yogyakarta or Solo in the mid-afternoon taking in some of the other archaeological sites on the Prambanan plain. This is a wet part of Java and a visit outside of the November to March period has the best chance of providing a clear, sunny day.

In the wake of the May 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake, some parts of Prambanan sustained significant damage. The site is open again, but some temples are cordoned off and as of the end of 2009 entry into several temples is not allowed, while major repair and restoration work is undertaken.


Tourism Information Office

Get in

The nearest major cities are Yogyakarta, 17 kilometres to the south west and Solo about 40 kilometres to the north east. The main road connecting these two large cities passes right by Prambanan and this makes transport links very straightforward. The nearest actual town to Prambanan is Klaten, about 3 km to the north.

By plane

Yogyakarta airport is well served by domestic flights from Jakarta, Bali, other major domestic destinations and internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It is just ten kilometres from here to Prambanan. A taxi direct from the airport should cost about Rp 40,000 and take about 20 minutes.

Solo airport is much smaller but has several flights each day from Jakarta and is also connected internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Prambanan is about 90 minutes by bus from Solo airport.

By bus

TransJogja, Yogyakarta's newest bus service, also serves a direct route to Prambanan. The bus is air-conditioned and comfortable, but sometimes can be overcrowded. Take number 1A from Malioboro street (Rp 3 000 one way). The first one leaves around 6AM, then every 20 minutes. Depending on traffic, the journey can take one hour. From the terminal station it is just 5 minute walk.

There are regular buses from Yogyakarta's Umbulharjo bus station (30 minutes), as well as a wide variety of tour agency-operated minibuses shuttling directly from Yogyakarta's backpacker haunts. Local buses to/from Solo are also easy to find (90 minutes).

By taxi

A taxi from the center of Yogyakarta costs around Rp. 60,000. The driver may be prepared to wait free of charge for an hour or so and then take you back for the same price, giving a total cost of Rp. 120,000.

Get around

Prambanan can be fairly easily covered on foot. If the midday heat is too much, a toy train shuttles around the park for Rp 5,000 a throw.

See

The main site of modern day Prambanan complex is inside a large, landscaped park. The complex is open daily from 6AM to 6PM. Try to get there early to beat the heat. Entry costs Indonesians less than $1, while foreigners are charged a fixed tourist rate of US$13 or US$7 for a registered student. Guides can be hired at the ticket office for about US$5 and as this is a complex monument, a guide is a very good idea.


Around Prambanan


Do

Buy

Hawkers hassle tourists near the entry gate but will generally take the hint after a terima kasih (thank you) or two.

There is a large market just outside the gate selling lots of touristy souvenirs.

Eat

There are many good value Indonesian warungs in and around Prambanan. A good tip is to follow the local Indonesian tourists - they always know which has the best food.

Drink

Drink hawkers are omnipresent. The museum also has a drinks stand and there are benches scattered throughout the park for a quick break.

After a walk around Prambanan in the heat, a glass of fresh local juice or a pitcher of iced Javanese tea goes down very well.

Sleep

There are a few hotels here if you want to spend the night (not such a bad idea if you want to see Prambanan before the crowds arrive and before the heat of the day sets in). However, most visitors day trip from Yogyakarta or Solo.

Contact

The telephone area code for Prambanan is the same as Solo - 0271

The nearest police station to Prambanan is 3 km away at Klaten although officials at Prambanan more or less take the role of policemen.

Get out

Related Information




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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [2].

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