Candi (Temple) Prambanan or Candi Roro Jonggrang, Yogyakarta, Biggest & Most Beautiful Hindu Temple in Indonesia

Candi Prambanan is located 17 KM on the east of Jogja (Yogyakarta), notably in Prambanan village, Bokoharjo destrict. The location only 100 km from Yogya-Solo mainroad, and visible from the main road. Prambanan area is located on the elevation of 154 m above sea level, and partly is Sleman regency’s area, and partly are Klaten regency area.

Candi Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. There is still not strong evidence who ordered to build the temple, or the period it was constructed, but allegedly this temple was established in the midst of the 9th century, as ordered by king from Sanjaya Dynasty, King Balitung Maha Sambu. That opinion is based on Syiwagrha inscription found nearby Prambanan and now preserved in National Museum in Jakarta. The inscriptions dates back 778 Saka or 856 AD written in Rakai Pikatan period.

The temple restoration took quiet long time, as it would never end. The discovery of biggest structure, Candi Syiwa, was reported by CA Lond in 1733. And excavation was finished in 1885, by clearing the bush and grasses, and stone blocks classifications. In 1902, the preservation effort was continued by van Erp by more concise ruins classification. In 1918, the restoration was held by Dinas Purbakala (Oudheidkundige Dienst) led by PJ Perquin, that the ruins of Candi Siva can be reconstructed. In 1926, a restoration committee led by De Haan proceeded Perquin work, and this committee Candi Siva is accomplished, and started to reconstruct Candi Apit. De Haan died in 1931, and replaced by VR van Romondt. In 1932, restoration of Candi Apit was completed. The restoration was ceased in 1942 when Japanese overtook Indonesia. In 1953, Siva Temple restoration and 2 Candi Apit were completed.

The Candi Prambanan is a rectangluar area, consists of outer courtyard, and 3 inner yard. The inner court yard comprises of 3 areas, Jaba (outer yard), Tengahan (middle yard) and Njeron (inner yard. The outer courtyard is an open are that is surrounded Jaba, a square area of 390 sqm, that was encircled by stone block fence, that now can be seen as ruins. Jaba is currently empty, and whether there was building or other decoration here is still unknown. In the middle of Jaba yard, located Tengahan (middle yard), a square area of 222 sqm. This middle yard is encircled by stone blocks fence that is damaged and only ruin left. This yard comprises of 4 terraces. The first terrace, the lowest one, has 68 candi kendil that line up encircling and separated into 4 lines by connecting passage between the yards doors. On the second terrace stand 60 temples, and the third terrace there are 52 temples, while on the fourth or the highest terrace, there are 44 temples. All of temples on the middle yard have same construction and size, with basic size is 6 sqm and 14 m high. However most of the temples on the middle yard are now only ruins left. The inner yard is the highest area, and the most sacred area, with base of 110 sqm. and height is 1.5 m from middle yard terrace. This yard is encircled by stone fence, and four sides are completed with paduraksa gate. Currently only the south side gate that remains intact. In front of every gate, there are 2 temples, with square base of 1.5 sqm and 4 meters high. On this yard, there are 2 lines of temples north to south. The west line consists of 3 temples facing east. The north most temple is Candi Wisnu, middle is Candi Siva and at the south is Candi Brahma. The west line comprises of 3 temples facing west, that are called as candi wahana. Wahana means transport or vehicle, as those temples were names according to animal serving as gods transportation modes that are located in fromt of them. Temple located in front of Candi Wisnu is Candi Garuda, facing Candi Siva is Candi Nandi and facing Candi Brahma is Candi Angsa. The six temple are created a passage way. Candi Wisnu, Brahma, Angsa and Nandi have same construction and size, with square base of 15 sqm and 25 m high. On each end of the passage way located small vis-a-vis temple, called Candi Apit.

Siva Temple

When Siva temple found, it was in a very bad and damaged condition. The restoration took long reriod from 1918 to 1953. This temple is called as Siva temple as there is Siva statue inside the temple. This temple also called Roro Jonggrang temple, as in one of the chamber located Durga Mahisasuramardini statue, that is called as Rara Jonggarang statue. The temple body stands on a 2.5 m platform. Candi Siva is located on the middle of west line and the biggest one. The base id square of 44 sqm and height is 47 meters.

Along the temple foot wall is decorated with carving of 2 ornaments intermittently engraved. Those ornaments are lion figure standing between 2 kalpataru tree. This ornaments are depicted on the foot of Siva temple and other 5 temples. On the north and south  side of temple foot wall of Candi Siva, the lion ornament is flanked by a panels of pair of animals shading under a kalpataru tree growing from vase. Various of animals depicted here are monkey, peacock, deer, rabbit, goat and dog. On every tree perch 2 birds. On the other side of foot wall of Siva or other big temples, the animal panels are replaced with panel with kinara-kinari, pair of birds with human head, that are shading under kalpataru tree.

The stair to the platform surface located on the east and completed with railing decorated with tendrils and animal. The base of the railing is decorated with dragon head with open-wide mouth with a god figure inside the mouth. On the left and right side of the stair, there are candi kendil with pointed roof and carved with Siva and each side of the temple body. In the stair top located paduraksa gate towards the temple passage. the gate is decorated with Kalamakara carved beautifully. Behind the gate, stand pair of temples completed ith niches of Mahkala and Nandiswara, the gate guards.

On the platform sufrace, there is 1 m wide passage encircling the temple body. The passage is completed with fence, that it looks like a roofless aisle. This aisle is winding on angles, and separated the temple wall into 6. Along the temple wall decorated with carving or Lokapala , gods of wind directions, Bayu, Indra, Agni and Yama. Along the wall of fence, carved Ramayana epic that is depicted clockwise, starting when Visnu asked by gods to go down on earth to solve matter about  Rahwana, and ended on the completion of bridge on the ocean from Alengka. The story is proceeded at the wall of Candi Brahma fence.

Above the fence is decorated with ratna, and under ratna, on the outer side of the fence is decorated with small niches with Kalamakara ornament. Inside the niche there are 2 carving motives intermittently, namely 2 human standing and holding hanhs and 3 human playing various instruments.

Entrances to the temple rooms located on a higher terrace. To reach to the higher terrace, there is stair in front of entrance. Inside the temple, constructed 4 room encircling the main chamber situating in the center. The entrance to the main chamber is plain without statue or decorations. The entrance in on the same line of entrance to the east room. This main chamber is called as Siva chamber as there is a statue of Siva Mahadewa, Siva standing on a lotus with one hand raised in front of chest while other hand poses horizontally before his abdomen. The statue stands on a base (umpak) with 60 meters high, in yoni shape with water drainage channel along the surface edge. It said that this statue presented King Balitung from Hindu Mataram Kingdom (898-910) that was deemed as Siva.

There is no entrance connecting Siva Chamber to 3 other rooms. The north, west and south rooms have private entrance located inf ront of the stairs to terrace. Inside in north room, stand Durga Mahisasuramardini statue, she is the goddes of death, that represented the queen of King Balitung. Durga has 8 hands standing on Nandi bull faces Candi Visnu. one of her right hand is put on a club, white other hands holding arrow, sword and spiky disk, respectively. Her left hand holds Asura head, dwarf devil standing on a mahisa (bull), while other hands hold arc, shield and flower respectively. Local people call this statue as Roro Jonggrang statue, as they believe that it is the manifestation of Roro Jonggrang that was cursed to be stone by Bandung Bondowoso. Inside the west room located Ganesha statue in cross-legged sitting position on padmasana (lotus throne), with left and right foot meet each other. Both hands put on knee with palm facing up, while the trunk lops on its left arm. Ganesha represented the royal prince of King Balitung, and the sash on its shoulder shows that he was also a warlord.

Inside the south room there is Agastya or Siva Mahaguru. This statue figure is fat, and bearded, he stands facing Cabdi Brahma on the south and his hand carries rosary and jug.  Behind him, there is a fly repellent tool on the left and trisula on the right. Siva Mahaguru represented a priest, the adviser of the kingdom.

Visnu Tempe

Visnu temple is located on the north of Siva Temple. The temple body stands on a platform that created a balusters passage. The stairs to the platform surface is located on the wast, and along the temple wall, lining up panels with Lokapala carvings. Along the baluster wall is decorated with a line of panels with Krisnayana reliefs. Krisnayana tells about Krisna life from his birth to the period when he reigns in Dwaraka. On the balusters wall, there are ratna decaration, and under ratna, on the outer side of the baluster, there are niches with Kalamakara ornament. Wisnu as priest sitting with various positions are depicted in the niches.

Candi Wisnu has i chamber with one entrance facing east. Inside the chamber, there is Wisnu statue standing on a platform (umpak) in the shape of yoni. Wisnu figure has 4 hands with right hand holds Cakra (Wisnu weapon) while the left hand carries clam. The right hand holds club and the other left hand carries lotus.

Candi Brahma

Candi Brahma is situated on the south of Candi Siva. The temple body stands on platform creating balustrade passage. Along the wall of the temple wall is also decorated with Lokapala carvings. Along the inside wall of the balustrade is decorated with line of panels with Ramayana story, sequel of that on Siva Temple. The Ramayana depicted here started with Rama that is helped by her brother Laksmana, and monkey troops to fight against Rahwana, and then after Sinta could be retrieved from Rahwana, Rama doubts her purity and loyalty, and then she wanders in jungle. Sinta gives birth to her son in jungle under the protection of an ascetic. On the wall of the balustrade, is decorated with ratna ornaments. Under those ornaments there are small niches decorater with Kalamakara and the inside of the niches are engraved with Brahma as priest sitting on various hand position.

Candi Brahma only has one chamber with one entrance facing east. Inside the chamber there is Brahma statue in standing position and put on yoni umpak just like the other temples. The Brahma figure is a god with four faces, heading different directions, and 2 pair of arms. On the forehead facing forward there is a third eye called as urna. This statue is beautiful, only it has been damaged. The wall of Brahma chamber is plain and no decorations. On every side of the wall there is a protruding stone to place oil lamp.

Candi Wahana

Candi Nandi has one entrance facing west, to Siva temple. Nandi is a sacred bull the ride of Siva. This temple has same shape to Candi Angsa and Candi Garuda, only it is a bit bigger and taller. Temple body stands on 2 meters platform, just like Candi Siva and on the wall of the foot temple is engraved with two motives carved intermittently. The motives are lion standing between two kalpataru trees and a pair of animals shading under kalpataru tree. On the tree perch two birds. Those motives also found on other candi wahana. Candi Nandi has one room. The stair and entrance to the room is located on the west. Inside the room stands Nandi statue, Siva ride in lying position facing west. Inside the room also located Surya statue (god of sun) standing on a 7 horses-carriage   and Candra (god of moon), standing on 10 horses-carriage. The room wall is plain and there are protruding stone on every side of  wall to place oil lamp. The passage wall encircled the temple also plain,no decorations.

Candi Garuda is located on the north of Candi Nandi, face to face to Candi Wisnu. Garuda is bird of Wisnu ride. Inside the temple there is no Garuda statue, though it is named as Candi Garuda. On the room floor, there is Siva statue in smaller size that in Siva Temple. This statue was discovered buried under the temple and actually it was not the part of the temple.

Candi Angsa is located on the south of Candi Nandi, vis-a-vis to Candi Brahma. Angsa is the ride of Brahma. The size, shape, and decoration on the temple foot is same to that of Candi Garuda. The room inside the temple is empty. The temple wall is plain, only stone to put oil lamp on each side of the room wall.


Candi Apit is pair of temples vis-a-vis. The location of each temple is on the south and north end of the aisle between the lines of big temples. Both templea is square with 6 sqm and height 16 m. Temple body stands on 2.5 m platform. There is no walkways on the temple foot surface. Each temple has a stair to the only chamber inside.

CANDI PENJAGA (GUARD TEMPLE) is smaller temple with base of 1.25 m2. Four of them located on the corner of the yard, while the others are located nearby the entrance gate at the upper yard.

Rara Jonggrang Legend

Loong, long time ago there was two neighboring kingdoms, Pengging, ruled by King Pengging and Prambanan ruled by Prabu Boko. Prau Boko had a giant figure and he was very powerful and known as a heartless king, and he held ceremonial ritual regularly with human sacrifices, but he had a very beautiful daughter, Roro Jonggrang. King Pengging was send as his people were disturbed by troops of Prambanan Kingdom. King Pengging wanted to stop that but Prambanan Kingdom was too powerful. He, then asked his son Bandungto meditate to get power from god. God gave him a powerful goblin that always obeyed him. From that moment on, he was called as Bandung Bondowoso. Later Bandung Bondowoso departed to Prambanan Kingdom and he could killed Prabu Boko. Bandung fell in love with Roro Jonggrang and proposed her. But Roro Jonggrang did not want to marry the killer of her father, she could not reject him honestly thoughn so she said she would marry him with a condition, he should make 1000 temples in one night. Banding Bondowoso agreed and after the sun sets, he went to a flat area not far from Prambanan. He meditated and called his goblin, Bondowoso to build the 1000 temples for Roro Jonggrang. Bondowoso ask help from other goblin to finish the work. Roro Jonggrang was worried when she found out that Bandung could make 999 temples. So she went to the nearby village as woke up girls there to pound paddy with wooden mortar. The sound of mortar made cocks crowning. Goblins thought that it was dawn already, so they left the work. Bandung was angry that Roro Jonggrang cheated. He cursed her to be a statue, that now found at the temple complex. He also cursed that girls in Prambanan will be spinster.