Our hotel organised a free shuttle bus to the nearby temple, so we made avail of it. The local temple just so happened to be both a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of Indonesia’s true gems… Prambanan.
We got on the bus and laughed as we were the only 2 people on it. The short journey took forever as the traffic was heavy. This would be a constant factor during our stay.
The bus pulled into the temple park and we soon realised that Prambanan is not one temple but an entire complex. A bit like Sukhotai in Thailand.
On entry, foreign guests get a traditional sarung to wear at all times in the temple. We were no exception. So Sarungs donned we ventured into the park. It soon became apparent how great this place would be…
As we started to explore we kept getting a lot of attention. At first Karen thought it was because she wasnt properly dressed. John thought it was because of his hairy arms. (In Vietnam randomers kept stroking them!). It turned out that as it was a holiday weekend most of the local tourists were actually from all over Indonesia, including places were you don’t get tourists. That combined with Karen’s naturally changed blonde hair and John’s ginger beard meant we were eagerly sought after for family photos!
So onto the temples. The main one is called Candi Lara Jonggrang. Previously there were 240 temples, but due to a myriad of reasons, both natural and man-made, only 6 remain. One each for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and one each for their vehicles.
Originally built in 850 CE by Rakai Pikatan, it was hugely expanded by the kings of the Mataram Kingdom before a major earthquake in the 16th Century almost obliterared the temples. It wasn’t until 1811 that they were re-discovered by a team working for Sir Thomas Raffles (Yes that man again!).
A bit boring, no? I prefer the local legend, 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.
The temples were great to explore and we got stuck in to the local sport of finding shady spots to rest in as it was well into the 30 degree territory that day.
Two other temples were nearby, Candi Sewu and Candi Lumbung, which we walked to, forgoing the motorised transport available for hire. Worse than the Chinese they are!
We had a great day here and managed to flag down a taxi in the first 5 minutes of looking which is extremely lucky!
That evening we headed into Yogyakarta, which was even more rammed than normal. Dinner was at a local ‘looseman’, down a side street and got good food.
Tomorrow would be a trip to Borododur Temple.