The amazing Prambanan Temple a Hindu temple in Yogyakarta. It’s sight is a fulfillment on itself as we had planned it for a long time to visit and photograph these magnificent temples. The Prambanan Compound reminds us the legend of Roro Jonggrang.
Prambanan Temple (Hindu Temple) :
Prambanan Temple or Roro Jonggrang Temple is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) northeast of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.
This Hindu temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high (154 ft) central building inside a large complex of individual temples. Prambanan attracts many visitors from around the world.
The abandonment of Prambanan Temple is probably because, in the 930s the court was shifted to East Java by Mpu Sindok, who established the Isyana Dynasty the shifting of the court is probably due to an eruption of Mount Merapi volcano, located north of Prambanan in central Java, or maybe a power struggle caused the shift. That marked the beginning of the decline of the temple. It was soon abandoned and began to deteriorate.
The temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century. Although the temple ceased to be an important center of worship, the ruins scattered around the area were still recognizable and known to the local Javanese people in later times. The statues and the ruins became the theme and the inspiration for the Loro Jonggrang folktale. After the division of Mataram Sultanate in 1755, the temple ruins and the Opak River were used to demarcate the boundary between Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) Sultanates, which was adopted as the current border between Yogyakarta and the province of Central Java.
Roro Jonggrang :
The Legend of Roro Jonggrang is a Javanese popular legend (folktales) from Central Java telling the story of love and betrayal, the knight and the cursed princess. It also explains the mythical origin of Ratu Boko palace, Sewu temple, and the Durga statue in Prambanan temple compound. The title Rårå (pronounced Roro) is ancient Javanese honorific title to address noble maidens (virgins) or unmarried princesses, thus the name Roro Jonggrang in Javanese means ‘Slender Virgin’.
The Legend :
The legend tells the story about two ancient and neighboring kingdoms in Java, Pengging and Boko.
Pengging was prosperous, and wisely ruled by its king Prabu Damar Moyo who had a son named Bandung Bondowoso. By contrast, Boko was ruled by a cruel man-eating giant named Prabu Boko, supported by another giant Patih Gupolo. Despite his unpleasant nature, Prabu Boko had a beautiful daughter named Roro Jonggrang.
The story relates that Prabu Boko desired to expand his kingdom, and so began training an army and raising taxes for an invasion of Pengging. His forces launched a surprise attack on Pengging, and the ensuring war caused devastation and famine on both sides. In order to defeat the invader, Prabu Damar Moyo sent his son Bandung Bondowoso to fight Prabu Boko. After a furious battle, Prabu Boko was killed by the prince’s supernatural powers. His assistant, the giant Patih Gupolo, led his armies away from the battlefield in defeat.
Returning to Boko Palace, Patih Gupolo told princess Roro Jonggrang of the death of her father. The princess was heartbroken, but before she could recover from her grief the Pengging army besieged and captured the palace. Prince Bandung Bondowoso was mesmerized by the beauty of the mourning princess and proposed marriage, but his offer was swiftly rejected. Bandung Bondowoso insisted on the union, and finally Roro Jonggrang agreed on two impossible conditions: first the prince must build a well named Jalatunda, and second, he must construct a thousand temples in only one night.
The love-struck prince agreed, and immediately started work on the well. Using his supernatural powers once again, the prince swiftly finished construction and proudly displayed his work for the princess. As a trick, she urged him to enter the well and when he did so, Patih Gupolo piled stones into it and buried him alive. With great effort Bandung Bondowoso escaped, but his love for the princess was so strong that he forgave her the attempt on his life.
To fulfill the second condition, the prince entered into meditation and conjured up a multitude of demon spirits from the earth. With their help he built the first 999 temples and started work on the final one. To thwart his efforts the princess and her maids lit a fire in the east and begin pounding rice, a traditional dawn activity. Fooled into thinking the sun was about to rise, the spirits fled back into the earth leaving the last temple unfinished.
The prince was furious when he learned of this deception, and placed a curse on Roro Jonggrang, which turned her into a stone statue. In this way she herself became a feature of the final temple, completing its construction and fulfilling the conditions for their marriage.
This legend is a local popular folklore that connects and explains the supernatural origin of Central Java’s famous archaeological sites; such as of the Ratu Boko palace, the Durga statue in northern cella/chamber of the main Prambanan shrine, and the Sewu temple complex nearby. Although the temples itself dated from circa 9th century, the legend was composed in later times, probably during Mataram Sultanate era.
According to tradition, this thousandth temple is part of the Sewu temple compound (Sewu means “thousands” in Javanese), and the Princess is the image of Durga in the north cell of the Shiva temple at Prambanan, still known as Roro Jonggrang or Slender Virgin.
Another interpretation mentioned that this legend could be a collective but vague local memory about past historical events that happened in the area, staged around the 9th century struggle for power between the Shailendra and the Sanjaya dynasty for control of Central Java. King Boko is probably inspired by the King Samaratungga of Shailendra dynasty, Bandung Bondowoso is Rakai Pikatan, a prince of Sanjaya dynasty, and Roro Jongrang is Pramodhawardhani, wife of Rakai Pikatan and the daughter of Shailendran king. The actual historical event was probably the contest of power between Balaputradewa, the Shailendran heir, against his sister, Pramodhawardhani, aided by her husband, Rakai Pikatan, which led to Pikatan as the victor, thus ending the Shailendran rule on Central Java.
More photos of Prambanan Temple here.
Our group trip photos in Instagram.