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CENTRAL JAVA > CANDI PRAMBANAN > The Wall Relief Arts
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LOCATION:
This biggest Hindu temple in South East Asia is located about 20km east of Yogyakarta, 40km west of Solo (Surakarta) or 120km south of Semarang. It is located in Desa Prambanan ("desa" means "a village") in Kabupaten Sleman ("Kabupaten" means "a regency" or "a district"). Prambanan Temple still lies within the Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta (special district) border. Right after the temple site, one will be entering the district of Surakarta (Solo).

Prambanan Temple is best arrived from downtown Yogyakarta by the city's many travel agents who will provide transportation to the temple, and if requested, to Ramayana Ballet Open Theatre nearby for an evening programme. The cost of tours vary: I paid Rp60.000 (about US$7) for a round trip tour of Prambanan and Ramayana Ballet. Often a visit to Prambanan is combined with another visit to Candi Borobudur for a full-day trip for about Rp100.000 (about US$12) per person.

DESCRIPTION:

The collection of reliefs at all the three Trimurti temples (Siwa, Brahma, Wisnu) is rather astounding. One generally could spend the whole day trying to follow the story, although unless you have special predilection for reading ancient symbolism and scripting, you may get overwhelmed like I did. Generally, it is best to appreciate the reliefs as the way they are, by admiring the intricacy of the exquisite carvings.

Anyway, I intend to write on the general story behind the reliefs at all the main temples. On all the temple walls, the reliefs depict the story that revolves around the legendary Rama, an incarnation of Dewa Wisnu who descended to the earth from heaven upon request by the kings of Brahmins (the commoners or pheasants) to fight off the devils that roamed free on the face of the earth.

There are 41 frames of relief on Candi Siwa that tell the story of Rama's adventure throughout his journey. Similarly, the full story can also be found in the old manuscripts of Ramayana epic, as well as parts of it can be seen being re-enacted at the Ramayana Ballet Theatre nearby.

Meanwhile, the reliefs on Candi Brahma describe the attack of Alengka kingdom by Rama in his effort to save his beloved wife, Sinta who was kidnapped by Rahwana. The reliefs on Candi Wisnu, oddly do not revolve around Rama anymore. Rather, they tell the story of Kresna (or Krishna) who was the incarnation of Dewa Wisnu himself. The full story could be found in Kresnayana epic.

MY VERDICT:
A pleasant visit in general. Exquisite and meticulous carvings.

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