Image by Clarasaragih - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Prambanan is one of the largest Hindu temples in Indonesia. Nobody knows exactly when and by whom the temple was founded. It is strongly believed that the temple was built by King Balitung Maha Sambu of Wangsa Sanjaya dynasty. The assumption is based on the Syiwagrha inscription that was discovered at the location of Prambanan temple. The inscription, which has the year mark of 778 Saka (856 AD), was created in the reign of King Rakai Pikatan.

In those days, Prambanan was the grand temple where important and religious ceremonies were held. Hundreds of monks and their disciples studied Vedas at this magnificent temple.

Mpu Sindok, the king of Medang Mataram, moved the capital city to East Java in 930 AD. Therefore, Prambanan temple was abandoned and forgotten.

After the capital city was moved, Prambanan temple lacked maintenance and it became progressively worse. Besides, the earthquake also ruined the temple. In 16th century, a horrifying earthquake really made the temple collapse. Anyhow, the inhabitants still knew the location of the temple.

As the locals didn’t know much about the temple, they made a lot of stories and one of them has become the famous legend. The forgotten temple was discovered by a Dutchman called CA. Lons in 1733.

While the British ruled Central Java, Prambanan temple captured the world’s attention. The lieutenant governor, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who was so interested in history and culture ordered his archeologists to continue the research.

Though Sir Thomas had ordered to research, the ruins of the temple were still neglected. As the authorities didn’t take serious attention to the excavation in 1880s, Prambanan temple became the victim of artifact thieves.

Some famous figures suggested that the work of cleaning the ruins should be started. The stones of the temple were piled up at Opak River, which drew the attention of the locals and they took whatever they could.

The locals used the stones to make the foundations of their houses, while the Dutch took some to decorate their flower gardens.

The restoration began in 1918, but was seriously handled in 1930s. As the reconstruction took a long time and there were a lot of artifact thieves, Prambanan temple lost a great many of stones and should be replaced with the new ones. Some little temples at the location weren’t restored because they were less than 75%.

Prambanan temple, which was severely damaged by the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006, has been listed as one of the world heritage sites. It is the tourist destination and the holy site where religious events take place.

Prambanan temple complex has its own uniqueness and it contains many temples with different sizes.

The Prambanan complex has three Trimurti temples for Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Besides, there are the Bull, Bird and Swan temples. As the animals served as the vehicles of the three Hindu gods, their temples are called Vahana temple or Vichicle temple.

Prambanan temple has a close connection with the legend of Roro Jonggrang and Bandung Bondowoso. This legend tells us a broken love caused by the unreasonable condition that couldn’t be fulfilled.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called Prambanan where everybody lived a peaceful life. One day, Prambanan was attacked by Pengging kingdom. The war brought a great suffering to Prambanan people.

The Pengging kingdom had a prince named Bandung Bondowoso who possessed a strong supernatural power. Besides human warriors, he had djinn soldiers that helped him conquer Prambanan kingdom.

Prambanan that didn’t have any preparation was confused and failed to defend its territories. King Baka who led his warriors to fight the war was killed.

After the war ended, Bandung Bondowoso lived in Prambanan palace. He fell in love with Roro Jonggrang, the beautiful princess of Prambanan kingdom. Finally, he proposed to Roro Jonggrang.

Roro Jonggrang was so uneasy because the man that proposed marriage was the one who killed her father. She got an idea to reject the marriage proposal.

Roro Jonggrang then put forward a condition that was impossible to fulfill. She requested that a thousand temples and two wells should be built in a night. Bandung Bondowoso was quite confident that he was able to accomplish the work because he had djinn workers to help him.

When evening came, Bandung Bondowoso ordered his djinn troop to build what Roro Jonggrang requested.

The djinns worked so fast. Roro Jonggrang was so panicked and she tried to find another way to thwart their progress.

Roro Jonggrang gathered her court ladies to burn straws and make noise by hitting mortars and pestles and spread flowers around.

The smoke of burning straws and the fragrant of flowers stimulated roosters to crow. The flames lit up the sky with red color and the crows of roosters made the djinn workers think that it was already dawn. That was why they left their work in a hurry. Bandung Bondowoso was very angry, but there was nothing he could do.

Roro Jonggrang was extremely happy as Bandung Bondowoso failed to meet the condition. Bandung Bondowoso was so upset because Roro Jongrang had trickily cheated his djinn soldiers. He cursed Roro Jonggrang to turn into the thousandth statue to complete the unfinished work of building the temple. It really happened under the influence of strong magic power.

It is said that a young couple will break up a few days after entering Roro Jonggrang’s room at Prambanan temple.


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