I first went to Java in 2009, and, of course, my main interest was to see and photograph Borobudur, which I managed to do, collecting over 1,200 photographs at the time, making it by far the largest coverage of the site on the internet or in print.
The second biggest historical site in Java is not Buddhist, but Hindu, and was built around a century after Borobudur, and was perhaps even built as a reaction to it, by rulers who had newly converted to Saivism.
Silhouette of the Prambanan Complex at dawn
In May 2006 this site was very badly affected by the Yogyakarta earthquake, which caused extensive damage and rendered the site unstable, and when I was there in 2009 most of the buildings were still off-limits because of the danger.
When returning in 2013 I managed to finish the extra work I had set myself at Borobudur, and then had a few days to photograph the Prambanan complex, which had been reopened in the meantime.
The site consists of three main temples, all facing East, with the Siva Temple in the middle, the Brahma Temple to its south, and a Visnu Temple to its north.
In front of these are temples built for their respective vehicles: a Nandi Bull Temple in front of the Siva Temple, and Angsa (or Hamsa) Goose Temple in front of Brahma’s, and a Garuda Mythological Bird Temple in front of Visnu’s.
Besides these there are other smaller temples around, including Apit Side Temples and the remains of 224 Pervara Shrine Temples in the grounds, only a few of which have been reconstructed.
A model reconstruction of the original site, showing how it would have looked in its heyday, can be found at the bottom of the Pramabanan page.
The main focus of course is on the three main Trimurti Temples. These have many fine bas-reliefs carved around them in much the same way as Borobudur has, but this time telling the Rama Story (on the Siva and Brahma Temples) and the Krishna Story (on the Visnu Temple).
They also have many fine decorations, including Lokapala (World Protector) statues, and Kalpataru (Lucky Tree) reliefs, with equally auspicious creatures at their side: kinnara and kinnari, bulls, deer, geese and peacocks.
The time we were in Prambanan was during the off-season and there were only few tourists there, so we managed to get good and easy access to the monuments, and the photographs have now been published on Photo Dhrama, along with further information about the complex.
This is the last of the reports on the trip to Java in 2013 and I should mention that there were two other sites photographed on the trip: the first is the Ancient Mendut Temple, situated around 5 km from Borobudur. I stayed next door to this temple on my first visit to Java, and got some good photographs at that time, but managed to add around 40 more from the work on this trip.
The second is a small Hindu Temple at Pringapus, which we visited in 2009, but as far as I remember the battery in my camera had run out, and I didn’t manage to photograph it then. This trip we returned and I got some good photographs of this small and fairly remote village temple.
There are still a couple of albums from the Thailand part of the trip to come in the next couple of weeks.
Approach to the Ancient Mendut Temple