The Prambanan is a Hindu temple complex which was recognised in 1991, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Prambanan is built in the same period (around the year 850) as the Borobudur temple, which proves that on Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another.
The Prambanan complex consists of three main temples (up till 47 meters high) and three smaller temples. The three main temples represent the Hindu gods Brahma (creator), Shiva (destroyer) and Vishnu (sustainer) and the three smaller temples are dedicated to the animals these gods used for their transportation: a goose, a bull and an eagle.
Next to the six bigger temples there are many smaller temples. Up till today not all of the 224 little temples are restored yet. You can still walk between the ruins and stones from the smaller temples. Imagine how the complex would have looked like 1250 years ago!
The Prambanan temple is still mystical. Locally Prambanan is known as “Roro Jonggrang” after a legend that Javanese people tell about the temple.
Once there was a man named Bandung Bondowoso who fell in love with Roro Jonggrang. Roro Jonggrang was not pleased with his love, and to be able to refuse his love, she asked him to do something that seemed impossible: to build her a temple with 1000 statues, in just one night. But Bandung Bondowoso’s love for her was so strong, that he did anything to fullfill her wish. He even asked an army of djinns (ghosts) to help him. Afraid she had to keep her promise, Roro Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice (a traditional dawn activity) and set a fire (to imitate the sunrise) in order to pretend the morning had broken.
The djinns stopped building, assuming the night was over, and fled away for the sunlight. Only 999 statues were completed. Bandung Bondowoso felt cheated and cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.
Prambanan also has panels of relief, describing the story of Ramayana. Experts say that the relief is similar to the story of Ramayana that is told orally from generation to generation.
Ramayana ballet (evening)
In the evenings, the Ramayana story comes to life. More than 200 professional dancers and musicians perform in the city of Yogyakarta or in the open air theatre with the illuminated Prambanan Temples as the background.
A story about love, war and mystical events. A young princess is kidnapped by an evil demon. Her lover his brother and a monkey, take action to save her. The costumes, the dance, music and atmosphere, will enchant you. It will be a magical night.
The theatre provides a summary of the Ramayana story on paper in different languages, and on screens the story is told as well, to make sure you fully understand the ballet. If you are travelling to Indonesia from November-April you can watch the Ramayana ballet performance at the Prambanan indoor theater. If you travel in the dry season you can enjoy the ballet in the open air theatre.