PRAMBANAN SANCTURARY COMPLEX AND CANDI BOROBUDUR, CENTRAL JAVA
 
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PRAMBANAN
 
 
BOROBUDUR
The Sanjaya Kingdom (also known as Mataram Kingdom), which vanquished the Sailendra Dynasty - builders of Borobudur - was situated in both East and Central Java along with Bali and Lombok and other islands.  The Hindu temples built during the Mataram Kingdom in Central Java on the Prambanan Plain (near to today's Yoygakarta) are a superb example of Hindu art and cover a vast area.  In addition to the temples comprising the Prambanan Sactuary Complex there are six major candis in the area - all built between 900 and 930 A.D.  .  
 
The tremendous eruption of Mt. Merapti in 928 or 929 ended the flourishing kingdom; it moved from Central Java to the plains of East Java.  
  
The central tower of Prambanan rises 45 meters and is dedicated to Siva.  Two other large temples on either side are dedicated to Vishnu and Brahma, thus the core of the hugh compound has temples to the Hindu Trinity.  Prambanan was the last major temple complex to be constructed during the Central Javanese Period.  Originally there were 232 temples.  It is speculated that the basin was flooded with amerta (holy water) periodically for ritural purposes to reflect the churning of oceans similar to Angor Wat in Cambodia and the Khmer temples in Thailand.   The complex tells the story of the Ramayana .
 
Over the centuries, earthquakes and volcano erruptions have done extensive damage to the complex.  However, major restoration has been carried out several times.  The most recent restoration has been the most scholarly.  Work continues today.  The grounds of the main sanctuary are protected by a small wall and the gardens surrounding the candis are well maintained with a great variety of trees, bushes, and flowering plants.  The visitor, once inside the complex, can roam freely without being constantly approached by vendors.  
 
In 1991 Prambanan complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (No. 642).  Details are at this link:  Heritage Site Information
 
A very good and succinct discussion of Prambanan can be found at Wikipedia.  It is worth a visit if you wish more details, including a sketch of the original layout and design of the central complex:  Prambanan
 
Below is a scale model of Prambanan in the Bali Museum, Denpasar.
 
 
 
Borobudur was built during the height of the Sailendra Dynasty of Central Java and took about 75 years beginning at the end of the 8th century and continuing into the middle of the 9th.  The Buddhist temple rises almost 35 meters, has 9 tiers, 5 kilometers of superbly executed reliefs, and 504 statues of the Buddha.  It is located in the fertile valley of the Progo and Elo rivers (about 42 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta).  It is near a hill called Nidar (Nail of Java) that lies at the geograhic center of the island.  
 
Shortly after its completion, earthquakes and the volcanic disruption of Mt. Merapati along with the shift of power to Eastern Java, caused the decline of the temple.  
 
The temple - candi - is believed to symbolically embody three concepts:  stupa, replica of the cosmic mountain Mt. Meru, and a mandala - an instrument to assist meditation. Pilgrims approach the temple from the East along a path starting at Candi Mendut and passing Candi Pawon  Borobudur represents the Buddhist transition from reality through 10 psychological states towards the ultimate condition of nirvana - spiritual enlightment.  This is accomplished as the pilgrims walk up from level to level, going clock wise around each tier before ascending to the next.
 
Borbudur was designated a World Heritage Site (No. 592) in 1991.  A fine description of Borobudur, including photographs and a cross-section diagram, can be found at Wikepedia.  
 
Below is a scale model of Borobudur in the Bali Museum, Denpasar.
 
 
View Photographs of Prambanan, Borobudur, and Nearby Candis