Java Island has more than 100 temples. All of them are the heritage of several Buddhist and Hindu Kingdoms who ruled this island until 14th century prior the penetration of Islamic religion and colonial invasion. Ancient society uses temples to worship God and Goddesses. Several temples were also used as shrine of deceased kings or queens. The temples listed herewith are the most famous ones.
Located in Prambanan, Central Java, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest, tallest Hindu temples in South East Asia. The compound consists of 8 main large temples surrounded by 250 smaller ones.This temple was built in 9th century by Sanjaya Dynasty who ruled Mataram kingdom. It served as shrine to worship 3 Hindu Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The largest is Shiva temple with 47m high.
The reliefs along the balustrades in Shiva and Brahma temples illustrate the story of Ramayana. In this story, Rahwana abducts Shinta, the wife of Rama. Rama tries to rescue his wife with the help of Hanoman, the king of all monkeys. A ballet performance illustrating the story is regularly held in the open air theater near the temple’s site. The reliefs in Vishnu temple illustrate the story of God Krishna.
Located in Magelang, Central Java, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest shrine of Buddhist Mahayana religion. Like Prambanan, this temple was also built in the 9th century by Syailendra Dynasty. Both Sanjaya and Syailendra Dynasti ruled Mataram kingdom, the relationship between the two was full of scandal, intrigue and contest for power. The Sanjaya was Hindu and the Syailendra was Buddhist. They erected many temples to worship their gods around the same time.
Borobudur comprises of 9 platforms, decorated with 2,678 reliefs which tell the story of Buddha’s life and 504 Buddha statues each seated in a dome called stupa. At the top centre of the temple lies the main stupa in which seated the largest Buddha statue, surrounded by 72 stupas. When viewed from above, the plan of this temple represent the form of a tantric Buddhist mandala, the cosmos, the nature of the mind.
Located in Wonosobo, Central Java, this compound of temples stand on a plateau 2000m above sea level in an area calledDieng, an active volcano. Built in 7th century, these temples are the oldest Hindu temples in Central Java. Originally there are 400 temples in the area but only 8 remain. The temples are small and dedicated to worship Shiva.
Besides the temples, the panorama is very beautiful. There are many lakes and craters, but visitors must be aware of the poisonous gas which sometimes burst from the land beneath.
Built in 8th century, Sewu Temple is the largest Buddhist temple after Borobudur. It is interesting to note that these temples are located very near Prambanan complex, the Hindu temple. This condition reflects competition between Buddha and Hindu follower during that time. The legend says that once there was a very beautiful princess named Roro Jonggrang. Her father was killed in a battle against Bandung Bondowoso, a prince of a neighboring kingdom. Bondowoso abducted Roro Jonggrang and asked her to marry him. Roro Jonggrang agreed with one condition, Bondowoso must build 1000 temples for her before sunrise. Bondowoso and his invisible magical army had finished building 999 temples before sunrise suddenly appears prematurely. Out of anger, Bondowoso curses Roro Jongrang to become a statue. Roro Jongrang statue is kept today in one of the temples in Prambanan
Differ from other temples; this temple was built in 8th century by Rakai Panangkaran, a Buddhist Mataram king to honor a female monk named Tara. This temple is 6 m high and has 52 stupas. The main temple is surrounded by 3 smaller stupas. Based on an inscription found near the temple, Rakai Panangkaran received the help of one Hindu king whose name is unknown when building this temple.
Located in Mendut, Central Java, this Buddhist temple stands in straight line with Borobudur temple. It was built by King Indra from Syailendra dynasty. There are 48 small stupas in this 26.4m structure. The reliefs in this temple tell many stories of wisdom, mostly using animal character.