There was a competition between the Hindus and the Buddhists in the 8th century Java. Believers wanted to build the best temples to honour their Gods. It resulted in two beautiful ancient structures in Indonesia, Prambanan and Borobudur temples.
Let me share what I saw in Prambanan temple.
Prambanan temple was founded a ruin by the Dutch in the 18th century. Unlike the discovery of Borobudur, as a whole structure deep in the forest by the British, Prambanan was founded as piles of rocks. If you’ve read my post about Borobudur, Prambanan lacked the earthquake-resistant components in its design. It was made up of rocks, stacked on top of each other, making hundreds of towering temples, each to honour different Gods. The frequent earthquakes in Java island since the 10th century toppled the temples and eventually got the whole complex abandoned overtime.
Efforts from various organisations and countries made it possible to reorganise the rocks, just like putting back pieces of puzzles of 70 – 80 kg rocks. I was told that there are ancient Sanskrit texts that describe how the 240-temple complex looked like before it was abandoned. The texts give clues for experts on rebuilding the temples. But the small temples at the outer section of the complex are quite impossible to rebuild due to rocks that have gone missing.
The guide showed us the different chambers in the three big temples in the middle of Prambanan. The three big temples are for the three main deities in Hinduism, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
The guide was a former dancer. He said that he used to tell the stories of Rama and Sinta through his dance. It is the love story in Javanese literature. People often say that it is the Javanese version of Romeo and Juliet, but obviously Rama and Sinta came first.