Prambanan Compound is the official name given to this site.
We visited on September 25th 2015, after our sunrise trip to Borobudur Temple about 50km away. Like Borobudur, this is another World Heritage Site which was also built around the ninth century. It is the tallest and regarded as the most beautiful Hindu Temple in Indonesia
(some say the world) and it’s interesting, given the equally enormous scale of the Buddhist Borobudur built at the same time just down the road, which presumably indicates that the 2 religions existed harmoniously side by side.
Prambanan is the name given to the site but Prambanan actually consists of a main temple surrounded by many others, over 200 in fact, the complex being extended over a long period until around 930 when it was abandoned, probably due to an eruption of nearby Mount Merapi which is still very active.
The place was “re-discovered’ during the time of the British rule in the early 1800s but significant restoration didn’t begin until the Dutch started work in 1918. The main temples were finally restored in the 1990s but an earthquake in 2006 caused very significant damage and still, in 2015 there are large areas undergoing works with the public excluded.
There’s loads of facts and figures available on these sites if the reader cares to Google…
Unlike Borobudur which sits on a hill, Prambanan is on the flat. The architecture is equally impressive and the scale of it is huge but after a couple of hours at Borobudur and a couple more here in the heat of the day, we were templed out – after all see had been up since 2.30am!. Given the chance to re-visit we would definitely do so but you could easily spend a whole day at each site if you were so inclined. We would visit the 2 sites on different days and that’s what we would recommend to anyone planning to visit.
We returned to the hotel around late afternoon and whilst Ann crashed out for a couple of hours I went for a massage and did the same! Later, after a couple of Happy Hour beers we went out for a pizza and salad dinner at Aglioo Restaurant nearby on Jl Prawitoraman.
On Friday September 25th, our driver Decky picked us up from our hotel at 3.30am for the 40km drive to Borobodur. We thought this a tad early for sunrise around 5.30 but Decky explained that we would be getting a special pass to get early entry before sunrise and before the crowds arrived – and we would need to queue to buy tickets.
Manohara Hotel is on the edge of Borobudur Temple site and entry was via the hotel where we paid for our entry ticket and collected a torch – its not a huge distance from the entrance to the Temple but it was very dark on a night when cloud cover meant no moonlight.
The hotel sold a package including entry ticket, loan of the torch and a snack breakfast with hot drink on exit. Cost was under £10 – expensive by Indonesian standards because of the Temple’s World Heritage status.
We reached the hotel within 45 minutes, bought our tickets and reached the Temple itself around 5am. The temple sits on top of a hill and has impressive views of the surrounding countryside. We were by no means the first to arrive but there was plenty of room for everyone and we soon found a good place to park ourselves to wait, in hope, for sunrise. Actually, given the cloud cover we were expecting to miss out on seeing the sunrise but the cloud largely blew over and we did get a sunrise of sorts which gave us some quite atmospheric photos with the low mist that was hanging around. Later we felt quite lucky about the weather because once the cloud cleared and the sun shone brightly, the light was quite difficult for photography – thus the dodgy photo above, taken as we were leaving in bright sunshine. We were also chuffed that we had such an early start as decent photos would have been difficult with the crowds that started to pour in post 6am.
First a few facts about Borobudur Temple courtesy the inter web, followed by some snaps.
The Temple is of uncertain age but thought to have been built in the 9th century over a period of between 75 and 100 years. This puts it 300 years older than Angkor Wat.
The building is essentially a huge pyramid decorated with miles of relief panels and 504 Buddha statues although some of the statues are missing and some are broken.
There are 72 Buddha statues seated within 72 perforated bell shaped chedis
The site was abandoned in the 14th Century possibly because of the Javanese conversion to Islam. It was re-discovered in 1814 at a time of English rule of Java and has undergone several restorations since, the most significant between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian Government and UNESCO.
The Temple is still used for pilgrimage by Indonesian Buddhists once a year.
Borobudur is Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction.
Borobudur is the largest single Buddhist structure on earth and whether you are into temples or not, you can’t fail to be impressed with it. We left the Temple around 7.15 when already the crowds were streaming in – if you are planning to visit then be sure to book for the early entry. We had a quick coffee and pastry and then headed off for Prambanan calling at a couple of smaller temples en route – Decky was anxious to give us bang for our bucks!
This is a modest temple when compared to Borobudur and Prambanan but it was en route between the two and its interesting in that it was built as a Hindu temple in the 9th century but at some point became buried in volcanic ash from nearby Mount Merapi and was only discovered in 1966 by a farmer working on the land. The site was excavated and reconstruction works completed in March 1987. This is Indonesia’s most significant find in recent years.
Like Sambisari, Candi Sari is very small in comparison to the others and perhaps not worth a visit for its own sake but both were en route to Prambanan and Decky quite rightly thought it worth stopping a few minutes.
Sari was built in the 8th century. Originally a 2 storey Buddhist temple building with timber beams and floor. Its thought this was a monastery for monks who served at larger temples nearby. The ruins were discovered in the 1920’s and reconstruction completed in 1929/20 but is incomplete as there are parts missing, apparently. Small it might be but the building decoration is ornate and impressive.
We left Padang, Sumatra on Wednesday September 23rd and arrived at Yogyakarta Airport at around 4pm for a four night stay at the Gallery Prawirotaman Hotel. We were picked up by the hotel’s limousine and checked in half an hour later, welcomed with cold drink and cold towel.
Gallery Prawirotaman is a 3* but felt more like 4* hotel as its quite new with large well furnished rooms, nice staff and everything you expect in a modern hotel, including fridge and good wifi plus a big TV ( although sadly no live Premier League footy). The included breakfast was awesome and there is a pleasant top floor bar with happy hour and a nice swimming pool which we didn’t get round to using much but it was usually empty. Whilst is some some distance from the city centre, it was convenient for what we wanted to see. All in all great value for money and recommended.
Like most people, the reason for our visit to Yogya was to visit the Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes. We have enjoyed visiting temples in Asia as they are a big part of the rich tapestry of colour but we are certainly not temple addicts. However, there are places where the temples are the main attraction and the temples of Borobudur and Angkor Wat stand out as must visits if in the areas. Since we were travelling south down the Indonesian archipelago we had to pass through or over Java to get to Bali. We were unlikely to pass by Java again any time soon and since Borobudur gets a great write up as the oldest and biggest Buddhist temple in the world, we thought we would call in. There are also good trecking possibilities to be had here but that would have meant extending our visit by at least a couple of days which was problematical for us.
We did look at flying to Jakarta for a few days and then catching a train to Yogy (a long journey) but we really didn’t fancy Jakarta and whilst we got all excited about what is said to be a scenic train journey, we were getting conflicting views on this. So we took the easy route and bought Garuda flights Padang to Yogya.
Four nights at the hotel effectively gave us 3 full days in Yogya, 1 day for temples, 1 day for other sightseeing – if any, and a day for R&R by the pool.
Since its customary to visit Borobudur for sunrise, the early start means that with a car its easy to visit both the main temple sites in a day even though the places are 50km apart.
Soon after we arrived at the hotel on Wednesday evening we phoned a local english speaking Driver, Decky, to arrange a tour for the Friday. The day would involve an early start for sunrise at Borobudur followed by a visit to Prambanan, another large temple site. That done we retired to the bar for a drink and a snack followed by bed!
The following day, Thursday September 24th, after a leisurely breakfast, we strolled around the neighbourhood of the hotel, window shopping and sussing out places for dinner. The main attractions, palaces etc, were closed for Ede celebrations and so it was quiet and there was little to be done. We lunched at the impressive Via Via around the corner from the hotel and then allowed a tuk tuk driver to persuade us to take a tour of the streets which in the heat of the day was the best way to do it.
Eventually Mr tuk tuk dropped us in the Malioboro shopping district which was packed with shoppers and folk dining.
Thursday evening, after an average dinner at EasyGoin’ Mexican restaurant it was early to bed – we had to get up well before dawn to be picked up at 3.30 am for our Temple tour. As is often the case when you need to be up especially early, we didn’t sleep very well!
Friday was our Temple Tour for which see separate reports.
We were woken from our slumbers on Friday night when an earthquake shook the building. The shaking probably lasted only 15 seconds but seemed a long time and we could here the sound of breaking glass elsewhere. Once the shaking stopped Guests poured out into the corridors and were ushered down the stairs by staff who all seemed very relaxed about matters. We hung around the ground floor of the building for 10 minutes or so until the building was declared safe and then returned to our beds.
On Saturday, exhausted from the previous day’s excursions and lack of sleep due to the earthquake, we did absolutely nothing other than sit by the pool at the hotel although as ever free time means a budget update exercise and more internet research for our journey ahead. We dined at Via Via again that evening and again fairly early to bed as the following morning we would need to pack and check out around 9.30 to leave for our flight to Bali.