Monday January 22, 2018

Know about the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia: Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple is the largest temple compound devoted to Lord Shiva in Indonesia. It is UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Representational Image. Image: Wikimedia Commons
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By Pragya Jha

Name of the temple: Prambanan Temple

Other names: Loro Jonggrang, Sewu Temple, Bubrah Temple, Lumbung Temple,

Candi Prambanan (Candi = temple)

Location: Central Java, Indonesia

Built in: 10th century

Dedicated to: Trimurti (Hinduism)

Temples are places of worship. In India temples are an integral part of Hindus faith. But are these structures only confined to India? Not really! Faith and religions don’t have any boundaries. Prambanan Temple also known as Roro Jonggrang in Indonesia is one of the most beautiful temple in the world. It is the biggest structure in java which has three main temples dedicated to Hindu deities namely Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma who are considered as a symbol of Trimurti according to Hindu belief.

History

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The construction of Prambanan Temple commenced with Rakai Pikatan of Mataram Kingdom. Initially, the temple was dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva which was further expanded by the successive kings. At its bloom, there were 240 temples which were eventually abandoned by either by the eruption of nearby Mt. Merapi or by political struggle. In 6th century, an earthquake led to the collapse of Prambanan Temple.

The temple was rediscovered by the Dutch. Surveys and excavation were done but formal restoration began in the year 1930. Much of the original work was stolen therefore the temple was rebuilt with only 75% of the original material that was available. Restoration work is still going on at the Prambanan Temple.

Story

As per the locals,  belief, there is a story associated with the temple, a man named  Bandung Bondowoso wanted to marry a beautiful princess named Loro Djonggrang. The king agreed to his request but the princess did not want to marry him. To avoid his marriage proposal she cleverly put a condition in front of him. She told him that she would marry him only if he builds 1000 temples before sunlight. With the help of genies and some magical powers, Bandung completed 999th and was about to win the princess. With time running out, the princess asked the villagers to pound rice and light a fire in order to wake the roosters. Nandung felt cheated and he decided to turn the princess into stone. A statue of her graces the main temple, which explains the Javanese name for the temple – Rara Jonggrang, meaning “slender maiden.” In addition, a nearby temple is named Candi Sewu – “a thousand temples.”

Related Article: 5 most famous Hindu Temples in South East Asia

Worship of Gods

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Prambanan Temple is dedicated to the Trimurti. The biggest temple which is 47 meters high is devoted to Lord Shiva- the destroyer and the other two temples which are placed left and right side of the big temple are devoted to Brahma-the creator and Vishnu-the sustainer. In 1991, Prambanan was declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Activities

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is an open theater which hosts the performance of Ramayana Ballet. In the rainy season, the shows are shifted indoor to the Trimurti Theater. At full moon, during May to October Ramayana Ballet is performed in classic Javanese style. Over 250 dancers perform dance drama on outdoor stage.

Prambanan Temple is an example of Indian culture that is prevalent abroad. The temple is an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage.

Pragya Jha is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication, New DelhiTwitter:@pragya1527

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  • Pragya Jha

    Prambanan Temple is the largest temple of South East Asia. It is composed of 8 main shrines called ‘gopuras.’

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Glad to see that Hindu mythology and Heritage is preserved so beautifully in Indonesia

  • Pragya Jha

    Prambanan Temple is the largest temple of South East Asia. It is composed of 8 main shrines called ‘gopuras.’

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Glad to see that Hindu mythology and Heritage is preserved so beautifully in Indonesia

Next Story

12 Interesting Facts About Somnath Temple Probably You Didn’t Know

The Somnath Temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot.

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Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
  • The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
  • Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga

Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.

Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.

Somnath Temple History

According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.

Somnath Temple Attacks

Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.

According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”

Also Read: Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.

The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.

In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.

Somnath temple to Dwarka

Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.

Also Read: The Temple of Death: The Abode of Yamraj

The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.

Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons

The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.

Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.

  1. The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  2. Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
  3. The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
  4. According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
  5. According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
  6. The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
  7. According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
  8. On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
  9. According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
  10. The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
  11. The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
  12. Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.