The second largest Buddhist monument in Java (after Candi Borobudur) is Candi Sewu, which is otherwise known as Mañjuśrī Temple, on the Prambanan Plain. Prambanan itself is better known for its Hindu Temples, which are famous worldwide, but before this area was a Hindu site, it was a Buddhist site.
Candi Sewu is in the north of the Prambanan Heritage compound and was severely damaged by the 2006 earthquake, which also damaged the Hindu sites, but it was not given the priority in reconstruction that they had, and so is still largely in ruins.
It was little visited even when I went for the first time in 2009, and since then the authorities have introduced a kind of open tram service to shuttle people round the site, which doesn’t appear to stop at Sewu, but simply drive round it these days, leaving even less visitors.
Because of this, the day I went I virtually had the whole large compound to myself, except for a few maintenance workers who were quietly going about their business elsewhere. I therefore had a quiet morning walking round, and photographing the monument, which has resulted in much better photographs than I had before.
I have just uploaded them to the Photo Dharma website, and in this case I chose to replace the old set with the new ones, as they are much better and compile into a better album also. Although the monument is suffering from neglect it is still of great interest, and must have been pretty spectacular when it dominated the plains. Let’s hope the authorities will eventually give it the attention it deserves.
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