Yogyakarta is a famous city for Indonesian cuisine, culture and history. Aside from the exciting Yogyakarta experiences, there are also popular attractions just a short drive from the city center such as the iconic Prambanan temple. Prambanan Temple is an outstanding religious complex, currently the largest Hindu deities complex on the island of Java in Indonesia.
Guide to Prambanan Temple
This Hindu temple complex on Java Island was built in the 10th century, and is the largest complex in Indonesia dedicated to Shiva. Comprising of 240 temples, Prambanan’s campus is undeniably similar to Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat, albeit much smaller and not so impressive!
Basic information about Prambanan Temple
- This Hindu temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Hours of visit: every day from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and once you get inside you can stay inside the temple complex until 6 p.m.
- Prambanan Temple is busiest on weekends and holidays, as well as mid noon and late afternoon.
- Can hire an English speaking guide on site or book a tour including temple transportation from the surrounding areas
- Fares for foreign visitors: (You can pay with credit card or cash Indonesian Rupiah. Prices in USD are fixed, but the amount in IDR may fluctuate depending on current conversion rates )
Adult: $ 25 USD (390,000 IDR)
Child (6-10 years old): $ 15 USD (IDR 230,000)
- What to wear to the temple: Just like Borobudur (or any other temple), it is important to cover your knees and shoulders as a sign of respect. However, a sarong is always available in case you need it.
Interesting History & Facts about Prambanan
Prambanan was built in the mid-9th century (c. 850 C.E.), during the Sanjaya dynasty of the Hindus. The original complex had a total of 240 temples.
Prambanan is the largest Hindu complex in Indonesia. This is the second largest Hindu temple complex in Southeast Asia (the first temple is Angkor Wat in Cambodia).
The main attraction in Prambanan are the 3 Trimurti temples. Trimurti is a Sanskrit word meaning “three forms”, and refers to God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The most impressive temple in this complex is dedicated to Shiva. This temple is the tallest structure in Prambanan, 47 meters high.
In 2006, Prambanan was severely damaged by an earthquake in Central Java. Even to this day, visitors can see some debris still scattered on the ground as experts are carefully reassembling these precious historical pieces.
Legend of Prambanan Temple:
Once upon a time, a king fell in love with a beautiful princess and proposed to her. She didn’t want to marry the king, but knew she couldn’t refuse the proposal, so she made an impossible deal: the king needed to build her 1,000 temples before sunrise and then she will marry.
The king agrees and calls upon the spirits to help him. When the king is about to finish all the temples, and the princess wants the king to stop. She mobilized both the women in the village to pound rice and the men to burn firewood. It is this disturbance that makes the souls scared when they only have to complete the temple to finish their mission.
When the king learned that he had been deceived, he was saddened that he turned the princess into a stone statue and placed her inside Prambanan Temple. It is said that you can see the statue of a woman as a princess, trapped in stone forever.
Experience to go to Prambanan temple
It is true that no place is as large and complex as Angkor Wat, nor as iconic as Borobudur Temple, but interestingly you can wander through all the different temples here. There are many nooks and niches to explore, hidden “rooms” and sculptures carved on almost any surface.
On the main temple (Shiva), look for relief carvings. This is where the story of Ramayana is told, which starts in the east and continues clockwise around the temple.
You can rent a bike inside the archaeological park that includes Prambanan. This makes it easy to see as many complexes as possible without getting tired of walking.
If you’re looking for food, there are a few local restaurants nearby. They serve super cheap, authentic noodles sitting in plastic chairs. For a nearby restaurant with a “nicer” view, Abhayagiri is located just south of the temple and is said to have a beautiful and exceptionally beautiful location at sunset.
If you have time, there are many temples near Prambanan Temple to combine in your itinerary:
- Candi Sewu: Located at the northern end of the Prambanan temple complex, this temple is often overlooked, but it’s very beautiful.
- Ratu Boko takes some nice photos in the late afternoon and has a free shuttle bus that departs every 15 minutes (last train leaves at 2:30 pm).
- Plaosan Temple is like Prambanan, but less famous and less crowded
If you plan to explore only the main temple (Shiva temple), you will need about 1 hour. However, if you want to explore this archaeological park further and see other temples in the complex, spend at least 2 hours here!