Prambanan is another UNESCO heritage listed temple complex near Yogyakarta, and like Borobudor, is a big tourist attraction. However even though Prambanan is from roughly the same era as Borobudor, this is a Hindu temple while Borobudor is Buddhist.
Prambanan is a 9th century Hindu temple complex. Prambanan is the biggest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia, and is also one of the largest in all of south east Asia, making it a very important monument.
We joined a tour group to go to Prambanan temple for sunset. Now I use the term “tour” here very loosely. Essentially it was a driver service. We were picked up from our hotel and driven to the temple and that was pretty much it. We were on our own to explore the temple at our own pace. There is the option to pay for the services of a local guide, but we declined that option as Dan would be mostly preoccupied with taking photos, and I would mostly be preoccupied with keeping Jake relatively clean as he splashed in puddles.
Prambanan is actually located 17 km’s outside of Yogyakarta, but you wouldn’t realize it. The never ending urban sprawl of Yogyakarta has swallowed and amalgamated all the other smaller villages, making it difficult to determine where Yogya stops and another town begins.
The day that we went to Prambanan was overcast and rainy, so our sunset was nothing overly special, but at least the rainy weather meant that the air was not as thick and sticky as it normally is. The cooler air made climbing all the stone steps to explore the temples a whole lot easier to bear.
There are two tour options when visiting Prambanan. One is the simple transport to and from the temples, which is what we opted for. The other option is to be taken to another side of the temples, where you can see a traditional dance performance by the Ramayana ballet. I love ballet and was really tempted by this idea, but even though our toddler is extremely tolerant and well behaved, we just didn’t want to push our luck. 2 hours is an eternity in toddler time.
When we arrived at the temple we were greeted by a free cup of tea or coffee to prepare ourselves for the rainy visit. Our driver left us at the entrance and instructed us to be back within 2 hours. You could, for an additional fee, hire a local guide. We decided we would rather explore the temple at our own pace. If you are not travelling with a little one, then it probably would be a good idea to get a guide.
Am earthquake in the 16th century destroyed a lot of the complex, and you can see the remains of some of the smaller temples around the outside of the main complex. There used to be round 240 temples, but many of these smaller temples have not yet been reconstructed.
There are three main large temples at Prambanan, one for Shiva, one for Vishnu and one for Brahma. The carvings inside the temples tell stories of the gods, and the carvings on the outside of the temples show animals. It was hard to follow the story lines of the carvings without having a guide. While Dan was busy taking photos, Jacob and I spent most of our time on the outside of the temples, looking at the animal carvings…… and splashing in puddles.