Looking to go temple tramping on the island of Java in Indonesia? This guide will guide you through some of this heavily populated isle’s most important Buddhist and Hindu ruins … let’s get started below!
Constructed in the 9th century AD near the present day location of the cultural centre of Yogyakarta, Borobudur used to be the centre of Buddhist worship on the Indonesian island of Java. With over 500 Buddhist statues and 2,600 reliefs, it is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in the world and despite Indonesia’s present day overwhelming adherence to Islam, it is still considered to be one of its greatest national treasures.
While the centre of Hindu influence in Indonesia can be found in Bali these days, this religion used to have followers across Java and the country as late as the 14th century, which is when Islam became the dominant faith of most citizens.
During the heyday of Hinduism, Prambanan was the religion’s most significant temple on the island of Java, as its construction portrayed God as the Trimurti, (creator, maintainer and destroyer of life), With a location that is within an easy drive of Yogayakarta (17 kilometres northeast), this temple can be done on the same or successive days from this famed tourist destination in Indonesia.
A Buddhist temple constructed in the 8th century, Sewu is the second largest relgious site of its kind in Indonesia after Borobudur.
Infused with legends by locals that proposed that these ruins were cursed, the rediscovery has instead unearthed more of this island’s pre-Islamic heritage in a ruin that is one of the largest complexes in the Prambanan area.
Built around the same era as Borobudur and Prambanan, Pawon temple was built with an amazing symmetry with the other two temples, leading archeologists to conclude that they are symbolically related in a manner that has yet to be fully understood.
Some has posited that Buddhists would visit this temple to purify their minds before entering the far more sacred grounds of Borobudur, though others have kept their minds open to other possibilities.
Ceto temple was built in the 15th century on the slope of Mount Lawu, making it one of the the last Javanese Hindu temple to be built before royal courts throughout the land declared Islam to be the state religion.
While the cultural significance of this temple is not as intense as Prambanan, the mountain views and the circumstances under which is was constructed make it a great place for spiritual introspection.