Tragic Romance behind Southeast Asia’s Most Glorious Hindu Temple

Around 10th century when Prambanan temple just completed, it soon became the biggest Hindu worship center in Southeast Asia. This complex occupies hectares of land to erect its no-less-than 240 temples. The structure is unique – towering and slender with a pointed peak as sharp as a spear. Three biggest temples dedicated to the main Hindu gods, Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa are built in the central part facing three temples symbolizing gods’ rides. They are surrounded with hundreds of small temples that act as sentries.



Prambanan Temple during Scorching Midday by Suranto Dwisaputra


Unfortunately, that luxury formation vanished after being burnt down by lava of Mount Merapi and rocked by earthquakes. The soldiers finally collapsed, leaving the Trimurti and their sacred animal mounts. The ruins were reconstructed after being neglected for years. Prambanan now gets its charm back and is honored with UNESCO World Heritage Site title for its magnificent architecture.


The many panels of relief carved on its wall make Prambanan like a story book with dozens of different tales. One most appealing relief is Ramayana, a tragic love story of Rama and Sinta which has been famous among Hindus in India. This legendary tale will be revived by traditional dancers during Ramayana ballet with the backdrop of mystical Prambanan at night.


Just the same as Ramayana, the local legend behind this stunning temple is full of tragedy. Locals say that an evil prince named Bandung Bondowoso wanted to marry a beautiful princess from Boko kingdom, Roro Jonggrang. The princess refused it with a smart way, asking him to build 1000 temples only in one night. Bandung Bondowoso agreed and nearly finished it at midnight. Roro Jonggrang got worried, pounding rice and making fire to create a morning-like impression. Bandung Bondowoso knew her trick and cursed her into a statue that completes his 999 finished temples. Now, the statue is resting in Siwa temple. Though experts say the statue is Durga, Siwa’s wife, locals insist it’s their ill-fated queen.



Roro Jonggrang Statue by Gunawan Kartapranata


Day time is the busiest hour in Prambanan complex. Tons of tourists go in and out of the complex to learn the history of simply taking selfies. The presence of vendors makes this spot even more crowded. But as the sky gets darker, the complex gets quieter with only a number of serenity seekers left. In this very moment, Prambanan looks so alive that magical atmosphere feels so clear. In this very moment, Prambanan shows the world that she is still an adorable Hindu temple although it has damages everywhere.


It’s easy to get to Prambanan temple as it’s located just off the main street of Yogyakarta-Solo. You just need to take Trans Jogja bus or common city bus and stop at bus stop nearby the temple. Only by paying Rp 30.000 for local tourists and Rp 110.000 for foreigners, you can enjoy this beautiful Prambanan from 6 a.m. to 5 in the afternoon.

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