Monday, June 29, 2015

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan architecture is a typical representation of the South Indian Pallava-Chola architecture - It is typical of the architecture to have very tall Vimanas and Kopurams(towers), large courtyards and aesthetically carved bas reliefs.Also the Prambanan temples follow the Mandala concept of the Vastu Sastra, an ancient Indian science of architecture and construction.
The 240 temples were organized as follows -
1. The 3 main temples for the 3 Murthys of the Hindu religion - Siva,Vishnu and Brahma with the Siva temple in the center.
2. Vahana or vehicle temples of the respective murthys are opposite to each one of the murthys for a total of 3 temples. The 3 vahana temples are Garuda,Nandi and Angsa(or swan).
3. There are two Apit temples or flank temples on either side of the 6 temples in the center row between the rows of Vahana and Murthy temples.
4. There are 4 Kelir temples on four cardinal directions outside the inner courtyard
5. Then there are 4 Pathok temples on 4 corners of the inner courtyard
6. Then outside all these temples are the Pervara temples organized in 4 concentric squares with different no. of temples from inner square to outer square as follows - 44,52,60,68
Today only the Murthy,Vahana,Apit and Kelir temples has been restored while the Pathok and Pervara are not restored yet though work is in progress.
The temples of Prambanan itself are organized as per the Logam concept. The foot of each temple represents the Boologam or the realm of the mortals. The middle realm or the body of the temple represent Bhuvarlogam or realm for the holy people. The upper realm or the holiest part of the temple or the topmost layer is the realm of gods called Swarkalogam. The upper realm is completed by a Vajra(it can mean both thunderbolt or diamond) on the roof.
The Bas reliefs of Prambanan is very extensive and narrative. The narrative part is about Ramayan epic and Bhagavata puranam - stories about Vishnu and his avatars. The reliefs also have depictions about Kalpataru, Apsaras, Devadas - all part of the Hindu/Buddhist mythology.
The temple is believed to have been built by Rakai Pikatan of Sanjaya dynasty around 850 AD and expanded by subsequent kings building the Pervara temples surrounding the centerpiece in concentric squares. At its peak, hundreds of Brahmins lived in the temple complex while the royal court with the urban center was located nearby. The royal court was shifted either due to Mount Merapi volcano eruption or due to power struggle throwing Prambanan into disuse. The locals knew about the existence of the temple but did not know the background and so the folklore of Loro Jonggrang was attached to the temple. It was rediscovered in the early 19th century by archaeologists from Britain during its short occupation.
Folklore of Roro Jonggrang
Candi Prambanan is also called as Candi Roro Jonggrang based on the folklore in these parts of the island. Roro Jonggrang is story of a princess by the same name and her love and betrayal. The other architectural sites existing today, Rotu Boko, Candi Sewu templex complex and the statue of Durga Mahishasuramardini within Prambanan templex complex all have their mythical connections to this story. Father of Roro Jonggrang, Prabu Boko is killed in a battle by neighboring kingdom's prince, Bandung Bondowoso. Prince Bondowoso along with his army captures the Rotu Boko palace. On seeing Princess Roro Jonggrang, falls in love with her and wishes to marry her. Roro Jonggrang, not wishing to marry him for he being her father's killer but at the sametime does not want to reject him for him being the victor, places an impossible condition to be fulfilled by the prince - build a 1000 temples in a night. But the Prince Bondowoso, having the magical powers to invoke demon spirits(kind of like Genies) to build the 1000 temples. But the demon spirits can only work in the night as the sunlight can burn these spirits during daytime. They proceed to build the temples and had completed 999 temples when the princess hears this news. She tricks the rooster in the Palace by having the maids light candles on the eastern side. The rooster, thinking that the sun is rising, starts to crow and the spirits rush back to below the earth. Prince Bondowoso tries to build the 1000th temple but fails. In his anger at being tricked, he curses the Princess Roro Jonggrang, who becomes a statue in the Prambanan temple complex, thus becoming the statue of Durga.

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