Spires For Shiva
Epic cathedrals are to Europe what epic temples (candi pronounced chandi) are to Indonesia. As part of my language program I was able to take a trip to Prambanan with my teacher who spoke in both English and bahasa Indonesia to me. I know I am picking up new words every day but starting any language from scratch is hard and I find myself thinking, “Ugh, I can say this in French, Ukrainian, English, and could probably butcher it in some other language.” There are two students at the school who speak to each other in French and hearing French makes my ears perk up. Hopefully with time, as is always the case, my ears will begin perking up when I hear bahasa. They already perk when I hear ayam sate which is chicken sate. I will write about food in the coming days – let’s just say where has Indonesian food been all my life?
Prambanan was built between the 8th and 10th century and is the largest complex of Hindu temples on the island of Java. I had never seen anything like Prambanan before in my life and I was completely blown away. The intricate carvings, details, and the shear height of the temples are incredible.
As kingdoms moved, Prambanan was abandoned and fell into disrepair, especially after earthquakes – see this amazing photo. Restorations began in 1937. On the day I visited, I got a clear view of the Merapi volcano which is still active. Restoration is ongoing at Prambanan and huge stone blocks are all over the area.
The temples are very interesting and the largest temple in the complex is dedicated to Shiva, the destroyer.
Inside the temples are statues dedicated to various deities.
My teacher explained to me that the large stone shapes below symbolize the male…
And to give you an idea of how large these temples are here is a comparison:
Candi Sewu is part of the Prambanan complex and is actually a Buddhist temple. This area of Java was ruled by Hindus and Buddhists at various times.
Sadly, much work is still needed to restore this temple. Bits and pieces of stones were pilfered by people and not everything fits together perfectly.
On the way back to Jogja we went down a quiet country road. In the 1960s a farmer was digging around and hit stone. What was discovered is today known as Candi Sambisari, a Hindu temple. There are several other outlying temples in this area.
It’s amazing how much dust and dirt can accumulate over the years, look how far down this really is:
Candi Sambisari is surrounded by farm fields where people go about their lives. It is definitely a stark juxtaposition to the temples.
I can hear the call to prayer now from my room. It reminds me that I am not in American anymore. Speaking of being Western, I was quite the celebrity at Prambanan and at Borobudur, more on that soon.