Candi Prambanan – Temple

February 23, 2015

The first stop on this particular journey is Candi Prambanan.  Candi means Temple….so essentially it means Temple Prambanan.


Now without providing an exhaustive historical description, I’ll just provide a few tid-bits.  Obviously, if you want to know more, you can look it up. 🙂

Built around the year 860, this temple is well over a thousand years old.  It has survived two rather massive earthquakes (You will be able to see some of the rubble in the following pics).  It is really more than just a testament of faith, it also shows how different factions in society and actually work together and build a community together.  Prambanan is primarily a Hindu Temple.  And, as you probably know, Hinduism like Buddhism, emanated from India.  Interestingly, although Hindu, Buddhist temples are in close proximity and they also share some of the same descriptions, sculptures, and structures.  In essence it somewhat represents how over time, the Javanese, Hindu and Buddhist cultures mixed in with each other…both faith wise and family wise.

Growing up in the United States provides a natural impediment to attempting to understand something that you have absolutely no idea about – system, structure, etc.  And, not to mention trying to figure out names that have a lot of letters to them 🙂  But, it is worth the time and the effort.  Now, if you take a little time though and have some patience then you can see the similar structure of the trinity – Christianity.  This temple compound is dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.  However, the primary focus of this compound is on Shiva.  Really interesting stories if you get the time to check it out.


Even with its variations and nuances, once you read the literature you can see lots of similarities to other religions, and of course…all of them have their nuances.  But, what stands out is the systematic structure of the beliefs and how they really represent values that are constructive to building a society that values life and humanity.

Now, I am not the type of person that goes somewhere and gets all spooky.  Just isn’t going to happen.  And, like Al Pacino said in his grand speech at the end of the movie – The Scent of a Woman – “i’ve been around, ya know…..”.  so I don’t have any grand ethereal pronouncements to make.  What I will say is this though!!

It is a waste of time to debate someone else’s religion with them.  They have their beliefs and others have their own.  What I am amazed at, is when you get up close to Prambanan, you can see the time, effort, energy, focus, dedication, and skill it took to build this thing.  It is not a matter of whether I believe in what they are saying, it is a matter of if they believe it.  When you get here, you can obviously see that whomever built this temple…well, they believed in their purpose, and that purpose made them demonstrate it in a most excellent manner.


This is also an excellent example of how the built environment can be so amazing…as it reflects so much of a given time period.  Case in point is the difference between some modern designs and those that represent a historical era.  Much of what stands out about historical structures is how scale is correlated to the human touch.  Many times, designs leave no personal feeling of impact as they can represent something more mechanized.  As you look closer, what you see is the human touch.  As you venture out more, you start to feel how the human touch draws you in.  What I am referring to is the size of the stones.

There are not large pieces that stretch long distances, each stone was picked and placed in a way that reflects how a human being picked up what they could and merged it with the others.  Even in the sculptors/reliefs, they stretch out over multiple stones and the detail of the effort naturally draws you in towards it.  Something that large modernized architecture generally fails to do.  It creates an impression…sublime in many ways, that helps you to relate to the human effort it takes to create something such as this.


Looking closer, here is a picture of the specific sculptures or reliefs that adorn the sides of the temple.  Many of them display the Hindu stories surrounding Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma…amongst others…but, they also depict the amazing epic of ‘Ramayana’.  Now this story, I am familiar with…it is a difficult read, just because you have to take your time and look up words and meanings so that you can follow the story…but, it is an excellent epic on spirituality, love and the human struggle…Here is an example of some carvings, up close, and the reliefs:




The way it was designed and built involved primarily the master designer and his apprentice.  The master would draw the design on the stone, the apprentice would come in and start the carving, then the master would come back and provide the finishing touches.

Stepping inside the temples, many of them have this type of sculpture inside of them…they all have meaning, and even their position and placement inside the compound represents a specific meaning.  Those who want to know more, well, I’ll let you look it up 🙂


Now, as I mentioned, the temple compound has been hit very hard by earthquakes…two (2) to be exact…the latest one was in 2006, and hit near 6.0 on the Richter scale.  And, over the time it was built…local political shifting and other social dynamics left the temple neglected for some time.  But, with efforts from local and international bodies, they are working for a full restoration.  Hopefully, this fine guardian here, can move them along…


this place speaks silent volumes of information to those interested in discernment….and moving on to the next site on this journey, I’ll have more to say about this experience as well!!

On to Borobudur….

One Response to “Candi Prambanan – Temple”

  1. Rabiah Muhammad said

    I am SO loving the inclusion and consideration of spirituality (in ALL its permutations) in your explorations. Of course its connection to the built environment is of interest to you. The connection is organic, as is the concept of spirituality (discernment, belief. . . ) itself.

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