Prambanan | Rara Jonggrang

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Prambanan, Indonesia

Prambanan (map) is a collection of massive Hindu temples (candi) built by the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in almost any other country a magnificent ancient monument on the scale of Prambanan would quickly be designated a national symbol. In Indonesia, though, it is somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring nature of nearby Borobudur.

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To understand a little of Prambanan and to get around all of the temples, you will need to set aside the best part of a full day. The complex opens at 06:00 so it is no bad thing to stay the night beforehand and get in before the crowds arrive from 09:00. This would also allow a leisurely return to *Yogyakarta or *Solo in the mid-afternoon taking in some of the other archaeological sites on the Prambanan plain.

Candi Prambanan (Candi Rara Jonggrang, map). is the largest and most-visited of the temples just to the left of the main entrance. While there were 237 temples built, most have long since crumbled and the main remaining attractions are the six temples of the central court, richly decorated with carved reliefs.

Candi Sewu (map) a large Buddhist temple complex meaning “one thousand temples”, is one kilometre north of the entrance gate and contains a large central temple surrounded by a cluster of smaller ones. The size of the renovated and intricately decorated central temple is impressive but the statue niches are all empty. Take note of the Borobudur style stupas. Entrance from the east side only.

Candi Plaosan (map). This Buddhist temple is about 2 km east of the northern edge of Prambanan park complex and is easily walkable from there. There are two large structures – Plaosan Lor (north) and Plaosan Kidul (south). There are some excellent intact reliefs and statues of Boddhisattvas here although most of the statuary was looted long ago.

The nearest major cities are Yogyakarta, 17 km to the south west and Solo about 40 km to the north east. The main road connecting these two large cities passes right by Prambanan and this makes transport links very straightforward. The nearest actual town to Prambanan is Klaten, about 3 km to the north.

There are many good value Indonesian warungs in and around Prambanan. A good tip is to follow the local Indonesian tourists – they always know which has the best food.

Public transport

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+ BAOLAU.com

 BUS >   DAMRIbosbis.com

 RAIL >   PT Kereta Api – the government-owned train company, runs trains across most of Java and some parts of Sumatra. + tiket.com (*Rail transport in Indonesia)

 AIRPORTS >   Most visitors to Indonesia arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali or Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

 WATERWAYS >   Indonesia is all islands and consequently boats have long been the most popular means of inter-island travel. Ferries may take you on long trips lasting days or weeks, or short jumps between islands for several hours. However, not all destinations are served daily.

The largest company is the state-owned PELNI, whose giant ferries visit practically every major inhabited island in Indonesia on lengthy journeys that can take a week from end to end. ASDP runs fast ferries (Kapal Ferry Cepat, rather amusingly abbreviated KFC) on a number of popular routes. Indonesia Ferry >> indonesiaferry.co.id

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