After an 18-hour international flight, we landed in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. But we left the second largest city in the world behind, because the starting point of our trip was Yogyakarta and so we boarded a plane again to make the short domestic flight. Arriving in the city, it was already after 10:00 p.m. and we were grateful and relieved to finally fall into our well-deserved bed.
The next morning we set out to visit the temple of Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and one of the largest in all of Southeast Asia. You approach the entrance via an avenue. Already here one notices the high, pointed towers, which are characteristic for these temple buildings. Arrived at the entrance you have to pay 325.000 Rupiah per person (~ 20 €). If you also plan to visit the temple Borobudur, a combination ticket is worthwhile, which is still valid the next day. The price for this is 570,000 Rupiah (~ 35 €). However, this is not valid if you want to visit the temple at sunrise. Coming from the entrance, after a few minutes you will reach the well-kept main square with the 47 meter high main temple in the middle. Numerous individual temples are placed around it in a strict arrangement, which is very typical for Hindu temple complexes. In total, it is composed of eight main shrines and more than 250 individual temples. The complete complex was built in 850 AD for the worship of the Hindu god Shiva and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Isolated trees provide shade and the benches in the main square invite you to take a short rest. Here is the ideal opportunity to admire the numerous temples and think about the legend of the temple complex. According to this legend, a prince courted the beautiful princess Loro Djonggrang. However, the princess spurned him and, in order to marry her, gave him the apparently impossible task of building 1,000 temples in just one night. With the help of some demons, the prince managed to build 999 temples and was about to solve the task. The princess realized her predicament and had a fire lit on the horizon, faking the sunrise. The prince did not see through this trick, so the task was lost and he could not marry the princess. As punishment, he is said to have turned her into the thousandth and largest temple of all.
Impressed by the size of the temple complex, we strolled through the complex and marveled at the buildings from times past. If you have not yet seen a comparable monument, you will certainly be speechless at the first moment. You only know this kind of buildings from TV or pictures, but when you stand in front of them, they affect you with all their splendor. This is what happened to us not only when we visited the temple of Prambanan, but also during our stay in Ayuttaya in Thailand, when we were on the trail of history with bicycles. Inevitably, when we visit old temples, we feel our explorer's heart beat faster and we imagine every time how it must have felt to rediscover parts of the lost buildings in the dense jungle.
In the far distance you can hear the volcano Merapi, which periodically covers the temple with mud and ash. Devastating earthquakes also took their toll on the monument, with large parts of the complex being completely destroyed in 1867. Leaving the main square, you enter a spacious park and a few hundred meters away is Temple Sewu, the second largest Buddhist temple complex in Indonesia with nearly 250 individual temples. From the main temple in the center, the complex divides into four squares surrounded by smaller buildings. This was built at the end of the 8th century by the Sailendra ruler and his successor.
The temple of Prambanan is definitely worth a visit and was a wonderful start to our trip. Since this type of construction does not exist in Europe, we are always amazed by the beauty of the temples and also the skills of the builders. The next morning, the temple of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, awaited us!