Candi Prambanan or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) east of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.
The temple compound, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47-metre-high (154 ft) central building inside a large complex of individual temples. Prambanan attracts many visitors from across the world.
The present name of the temple, Prambanan’, was derived from the name of Prambanan village where the temple stood, this name probably being the corrupted Javanese pronunciation of “Para Brahman” (“The Supreme Brahman”). It is also possible Prambanan comes from Javanese root ‘(e)mban’ which means carries a duty, reflecting gods role in the world, or the villagers duty in relation to the temple. Comparable with parahyangan (western part of Java island), comes from the root hyang, means god, or (e)yang, means ancestor in Javanese.
The Javanese locals in the surrounding villages were aware of the temple’s existence already before rediscovery. However, they didn’t know about its historical background: which kingdoms ruled or which king commissioned the construction of the monuments. As a result, the locals developed tales and legends trying to explain the origin of temples, infused with myths of giants, a cursed princess, and thus gave Prambanan and Sewu a wondorous origin said to be created by multitude of demons under the order of Bandung Bondowoso, according to Loro Jonggrang legend.
The temple officially caught the international attention in early 19th century. In 1811 during Britain’s short-lived rule of the Dutch East Indies, Colin Mackenzie, a surveyor in the service of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, came upon the temples by chance. Although Sir Thomas subsequently commissioned a full survey of the ruins, they remained neglected for decades, with Dutch residents carting off sculptures as garden ornaments and native villagers using the foundation stones for construction material.
Half-hearted excavations by archaeologists in the 1880s merely facilitated looting. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918, and proper restoration only in 1930. Efforts at restoration continue to this day. The reconstruction of the main Shiva temple was completed around 1953 and inaugurated by Sukarno. Since much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites, restoration was hampered considerably. Shrines were only rebuilt if at least 75% of their original masonry was available. Most of the smaller shrines are therefore now only visible in their foundations, with no plans for their reconstruction existing.
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