Of all the attractions we visited on our trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the Prambanan temple was the most stunning. Built in the 10th century during the reign of Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung, it is regarded as the most beautiful Hindu temple in the world. Built tall rather than wide unlike Borobudur, the sharp and beautifully sculpted towers of Prambanan temple stand majestically above all else, with the biggest structure towering at 47 metres tall.
We arrived at Prambanan in the morning hour. The weather was idyllic and we got right to exploring the temple after a short briefing, including on how it supposedly came into being according to the legend of Loro Jonggrang.
Prambanan temple, also called Loro Jonggrang is a complex consisting 240 temples, although most of them have been destroyed. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva. Two smaller temples on its left and right are dedicated to Brahma and Vishnu respectively. There are also three smaller temples dedicated to the animals that serve them.
The more we explored the temple complex, the more it impressed us with its awe-inspiring architectural features. The bas-reliefs carved on the walls of the three main temples are simply extraordinary. They depict scenes from Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic that is also gloriously brought to life via the Ramayana Ballet.
Spectacular Stage Play
We were fortunate enough to have seen the epic Ramayana on stage at the Tri Murti indoor theatre, Prambanan. The show, which lasted about two hours and was divided into two parts, was a dazzling spectacle featuring actors and actresses dressed in Javanese costumes with elaborate details.
The show began with gamelan music and story-telling in song form. The spine-chilling intro was followed for the next couple of hours by some of the most amazing stage performances we had ever seen.
The stories told through Ramayana Ballet included the kidnapping of Shinta, Anoman’s quest in Alengka, the fall of Rahwana and ended with the union of Rama and Shinta. The performers were flawless in their representation of the characters they portrayed. Every single flick of their fingers and movement of their body inspired awe. Their performances were both fluid and powerful at the same time and the show far exceeded our expectations. A must-see when you’re in Yogyakarta.
Prambanan temple and the Ramayana Ballet were definitely among the most memorable experiences we’ve had on our ‘Visit Fascinating Yogyakarta’ familiarisation trip. We have the Indonesian Consulate in Kuching and Xpress Air Indonesia to thank for that.