Candi (Temple) Gampingan: Jambhala Worship Temple with Animal Reliefs, Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Candi Gampingan is a Buddhist temple located in Gampingan village, Sitimulyo, Piyungan, Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This temple was discovered coincidentally by red brick craftsman in 1995. It was covered by soil, and the excavation was carried out 3 times, in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

This temple was constructed from 730 to 850, in old Mataram period. This statement was based on the typical of the building that match typical building in the 8 to 9th century and the style of Jamhala and Candra-Lokesvara statue style from same period of Gampingan Temple. This temple is believed to be used to worship god Jambhala (god of fortune, son of Siva)

The temple has not been completely renovated, but it is onvious that this complex has 7 temple building that were made of white rock blocks. The main temple is square 4.6x 4.6 square, and height is 1.2 meters, consists of 4 layers of white rock blocks that were composed with connected or hooked technique. Other technique used here is insertion of block to hollow part hooking one block to another. The other six buildings are currently only ruins.

According to temple morphology,   temple ruins are the foot section of the temple, that consists of the upper and lower platform. The base of the building is flat. The temple body is located in the center and has 11 panels where relief depicted. The foot is decorated with floral motives and strainds of beads. This temple had stairs and railing, that located on the west, so this temple faces west. The stair has 2 blocked layers, 2 layers as the base and 5 on the steps and railing. The end of the stairs is curve and plain.

The temple has well with square shape, 0.98 x 0.99 m and 1.54 m depth. The wall has 5 layers of white block. The buttom is currently dry, soil mix sand.

Though Candi Gampingan is relatively small in size, it has stunning and typical reliefs. The reliefs are carved on a panel around the foot section of the temple. Each panel is rectangle with length of 73 cm and width 19 cm. It has a beautiful animal reliefs that looked very natural so one can see what animal the carver tried to make. And this is very rare, at least there are two temples having similar carving, Prambanan and Mendut Temple. All the reliefs are decorated with creeping motives, padmamula or root lotus, that is believed to be the source of life.

On the north, east and south of the temple, there are 3 reliefs on each side, while on the west there are only 2 reliefs on the left and right side of the temple. The elements that are depicted on the reliefs are frog, poultry, and tendrils that become background of every set. The relief sets show a raven with big beak, strong body, open wings and fan-like tail. A woodpecker also depicted with long and pointed beak, topknot on its head, and unopened wings. There is a cock with opened wings.

There are quiet many birds relief in this temple, related with people belief that that very time, in believing bird transcendental power. Birds is believed to be the manifestation of god and also messenger carrier of gods of heaven. Birds is also related to the absolut freedom of human after leaving the worldly life, a symbol of free-spirit detached from body.

Frog, that was also depicted here, was believed to have supernatural power that can bring in rain, means frog brought more productivity, as water or rain could yield more crops. Frog also appears as the life renewal and revival of better life symbol.

Those reliefs still remains mystery whether those depicted as fable such as in Candi Mendut, or made for specific purposes. The animal figues could not be found in Hindu fable books such as Jataka, Sukasaptati or Pancatantra.

When Candi Gampingan discovered, there were found  3 Dhyani Buddha Vairocana made of bronze, and 2 Jambhala and Candralokesvara that are made of andesit. Fragments of building as part of stupa, 8 plaques and container miniatures, and 1 gold ring and ceramics were discovered as well.

Relating Jambhala and Canrda-Lokesvara with Candi Gampingan, in time dimension and conceptual base, both statues served as the symbol of gods existence in the temple, and so those statues can be used as data source that represents the temple function and the construction background. Jambhala figure fits concepts of yoga teaching. The relation between Jambhala statue and Gampingan temple and yoga delineates Jambhala as main god, as Jambhala position was as dharmapala. Jambhala played role as god that gave protection, guidance, to enlighten its worshipers.  The enlightenment can be reached by semadhi or meditation. Jambhala statue then was made in samadhi position, sitting cross-legged and eyes closed and his body was decorated with iconography (asana) of 8 petals lotus flower symbolizing cakra in human body. Jambala worship was represented in Candra-Lokesvara statue that delineated  vyakhyana-mudra and LOkesvara conseption associated with teaching and  favoring all beings to reach enlightenment.

Jambhala figure in this temple is distinctive that other temple. In general, Jambhala is delineated having wide eyes looking at his worshipers, and decorated with ornaments symbolizing prosperity and luxury. But Jambhala in Gampingan is believed made not to gain prosperity or material things, but to reach true happiness.

Jambhala and Candra-Lokesvara statue found in the temple site reflecting principle of tantrism of Mahayana Buddhism. Tantrism nature can be examined from the samadhi position that is based by yoga. And Buddhism element can be seen from remnants of  stupa fragments found in Gampingan Temple. The unity of Jambhala and Candra-Lokesvara shows that the temple function was as home of gods or devagraha or devalaya or sthana.


Penempatan arca dewa yang dipuja dalam Candi Gampingan dilatarbelakangi keyakinan bahwa bangunan candi adalah simbol pusat dunia, dunia para dewa, penghubung dunia manusia dengan dunia dewa. Oleh karena itu, candi merupakan tempat yang paling tepat untuk arca yang menjadi lambang kehadiran dewa.

Secara lebih spesifik, fungsi Candi Gampingan dan latar belakang pendiriannya berkaitan dengan makna arca dewa yang menjadi objek pemujaan yang pokok. Candi Gampingan berfungsi sebagai tempat pemujaan (puja-sthana) bagi Jambhala. Berdasarkan hal ini dapat diinterpretasikan bahwa masyarakat pendukung Candi Gampingan terdiri atas individu-individu yang pemahaman keagamaannya tergolong cukup tinggi, sehingga dapat mencapai tahap awal dalam tingkatan disiplin spiritual tertinggi untuk mencapai pencerahan, yaitu samadhi.

The construction backgroung of Candi Gampingan is consistent with Candi Gampingan function as worshiping place of their main god, Jambhala god. While the purpose of their worshiping activity was to reach enlightenment, and stupa found is the evidence that they built the temple to fasten the enlightenment by holding dana-paramita.

Visiting Gampingan temple is like seeing message that human should live harmoniously with nature, as animals that are dominantly decorate the relief. Learn from them, that lived centuries ago were already aware of nature.