Prambanan, The Largest Hindu Temple In Southeast Asia

Prambanan Temple
As the largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia, the beautiful and graceful temple of Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage.  Located not far from the Buddhist Borobudur temple, the proximity of the two temples tells us that on Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another.

Prambanan is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’. According to the legend once upon a time, there was a young and powerful man named Bandung Bondowoso.  He wanted to marry a beautiful princess named Roro Jonggrang. Her father, the king, agreed and forced her to marry Bandung Bondowoso. Butm Sita did not love him yet could not refuse him.

After careful consideration, she thought of a way to refuse Bondowoso, whose magical power was well-known.  She decided she would agree but only if Bondowoso built 1,000 temples in one night before the break of dawn.

She insisted that the work must be completed before the rooster crowed, something she believed was impossible. But with the help of genies and his own magical powers, Bondowoso managed to complete 999 temples. Panicked, Jonggrang told the women of her village to start pounding rice so that the rooster would wake up and begin to crow.  When Bondowoso heard this he was deeply disappointed and wildly enraged. When he found out that Roro Jonggrang had made the roosters crow, he turned her into stone, The statue of a slender virgin graces the main Prambanan temple, while a group of temples nearby is called the Candi Sewu or the Thousand Temples.

The  temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma -¬ the creator and Wisnhu – the sustainer.  The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples.

After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia.

The grandeur, complexity, and integrated architectural concept of Prambanan makes this a truly amazing structure. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.

Prambanan Complex


The main site of modern day Prambanan complex is inside a large, landscaped park. The complex is open daily from 6AM to 6PM/entrance ticket box closed at 17:15. Try to get there early to beat the heat. Entry costs Indonesians less than $4, while foreigners are charged a fixed tourist rate of 207,000 Rp or 100,000 Rp for a registered student. There is also a combination ticket with Borobudur, for both normal and student visitors. Price for a student combination ticket is 187'500 IDR and is valied for two days. Overseas visitors can also purchase ticket on the net via There is a separate entrance for foreigners with a much shorter queue. Entry ticket also entitles you to complimentary tea/coffee/water. A sarung is provided upon entry.
Guides can be hired at the ticket office for about US$8 (100,000 rp) and as this is a complex monument, a guide is a very good idea.

Candi Lara (Loro) Jonggrang, or simply Candi Prambanan, is the largest and most-visited of the temples just to the left of the main entrance. While there were 240 temples originally built, most have long since crumbled and the main remaining attractions are the six temples of the central court, richly decorated with carved reliefs. Three of them, known as the Trimurti ("three sacred places"), are particularly important:
Candi Roro Jonggrang
Candi Siva, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, is the largest of the six, rising to a height of 47 meters. There are fine reliefs of the Ramayana in its forecourt and four chambers with statues. The largest chamber, to the east, contains a statue of Shiva himself, while the south has the sage Agastya, the west his son Ganesh (the elephant-headed) and the north his wife Durga. Durga is also known as Lara Jonggrang ("Slender Virgin"), a legendary beautiful princess turned to stone (see box).
Candi Siva
Candi Brahma, to the south, continues the story of the Ramayana and has a statue of Brahma the Creator inside.
Candi Brahma
Candi Vishnu, to the north, tells the story of Vishnu's avatar Krishna and has a statue of Vishnu the Preserver inside.
Opposite the three large temples are three smaller temples originally dedicated to the vehicles of the gods. Only the statue of Nandi, Shiva's bull, has survived.
Candi Vishnu
Candi Lumbung and Candi Bubrah, two Buddhist temples, are located several hundred meters further north. They lie in ruins and are fenced off.also candi sewu has 249 temples (the most are ruins)in the north side in tte park.
Candi Lumbung


Other than temples within Prambanan archaeological park (Prambanan, Lumbung, Bubrah, and Sewu temples) there are also other less visited and less touristy temples around Prambanan plain. If you interested in ancient Javanese temple architecture, the off the beaten path temples on hill tops or in the middle of rice paddy through villages might interest you. After your visit to Prambanan, the Prambanan Archaeological park offer the group tour to these outlying temples, especially Ratu Boko. However if you prefer going on your own, rent and riding andong horse carriage (you must state the destination, for example Plaosan temple, and bargain for the price), or by taxi (if you took one from Yogyakarta earlier that has been waiting for you since there is no taxi around Prambanan area), or by daily rented car if you rent one earlier in Yogyakarta.
The entrance of these minor temples are guarded by archaeology bureau authorities. They will hand you guest book and expect you to fill your identity: name, origin, and your oppinion. It is for statistic purpose on visitors data of each temples. There is no specific ticket rate to enter these temples (except of Ratu Boko), however the temple guard might expect donation, although you are not obliged to, paying Rp 5,000 (US$ 0.5) in these sites is sufficient.

Candi Plaosan. This Buddhist temple is about 2 km east of the northern edge of Prambanan park complex and is easily walkable from there. There are two large stuctures - Plaosan Lor (north) and Plaosan Kidul (south). This complex gives a good insight into the close relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism in 9th century Java. Buddhist Plaosan was built during the same reign as Candi Loro Jonggrang. The Hindu king at the time had a Buddhist wife. There are some excellent intact reliefs and statues of Boddhisattvas here although most of the statuary was looted long ago.
Candi Plaosan
Candi Sojiwan. A buddhist temple with architecture similar to Mendut temple near Borobudur. The temple reconstruction completed on December 2011. The main chamber is empty. Located in a village 1.5 kilometers south from Prambanan between Prambanan and Ratu Boko.
Candi Sojiwan
Kraton Ratu Boko, south of Prambanan (take the minor road from Prambanan towards Piyungan and this palace is on your left after about 3 km), is a ruined palace or temple of uncertain origin, located on a hilltop 200 metres above the Prambanan plain (which makes for good pictures if and only if you have a zoom lens). Only some building foundations remain and it's difficult to make any sense of the site. Now incorporated into the Borobudur Park Authority, entry to Ratu Boko is a separately charged US$10. There is a free shuttle running between Ratu Boko and Prambanan.
Keraton Ratu Boko
Candi Barong and Candi Banyunibo. Candi Barong is located east of Ratu Boko on neighboring hill top, while Banyunibo is on the valley nearby. Barong is a Hindu temple on stone platform on the hill overlook the valley, while Banyunibo is Buddhist temple. Ask for the information and direction in Ratu Boko park authority. Take the village road southeast from Ratu Boko around 1.5 kilometers.
Candi Barong
Candi Ijo located further 4 kilometers southeast from Ratu Boko. The Hindu temple houses a large Linggam and Yoni symbol of Shiva. The temple is consists of one main temple with three lesser temple. Because it is located on hill top on another hill and quite remote, it is advisable to reach these temples with taxi (from Yogyakarta) or rented car.
Candi Ijo
Candi Kalasan. This Buddhist temple is the oldest temple in Prambanan plain located 3 kilometers west of Prambanan. Take the main road from Prambanan heading back towards Yogyakarta, after 3 kilometers the temple can be seen easily on south (left) side of the road. It is the oldest temple in Prambanan plain. According to Kalasan inscription, it was built to honor Tara, a female boddhisattva. The temple throne is now empty, statue of Tara probably made from bronze and have been looted for scrap metals for centuries, however the carvings of boddhisttvas is interesting.
Candi Kalasan
Candi Sari. This Buddhist temple was the vihara (temple as well as lodging) for Buddhist monks. Located just several hundreds meters north from of Kalasan temple in a walking distance. Just cross the main road to north side, walk east heading to Prambanan direction, after several hundred meters turn left into small village road and heading north until the temple is visible. The carving of Taras and Boddhisattvas are exquisite. Examine the winged human celestial creature similar to angels on northern wall. The temple was originally coated by white plaster called 'vajralepa'. The temple is originally two storey, with upper deck was made from wooden structure, the remnant of place to hold wooden beams can be seen.
Candi Sari
Candi Sambisari. This Hindu temple pre-dates Prambanan by about 30 years and was only discovered as recently as 1966 and is remarkably complete. Some archaeologists speculate that it is part of a yet to be discovered, much larger complex which lies hidden under centuries of volcanic ash and earth on the Prambanan Plain. Take the main road from Prambanan heading back towards Yogyakarta. When you reach the village of Sambisari, turn north (right) and follow the small road to the end.
Candi Sambisari


An open-air theatre inside the park, just west of Candi Prambanan right across the Opak river, has ballet Javanese dance performances of the great Hindu epic Ramayana on four nights during each full moon between May and October (dry season). The performance involved 200 artisans; dancers and gamelan musicians, and only performed in Tuesday, Thursday nights at 7:30pm (performance schedule). This performance, set against the starry sky and the lit back drop of Prambanan, is quite spell-binding. Enquire at travel agents locally or at your hotel for tickets and times. On rainy season (November to April) the performance moved to smaller indoor Trimurti
The Plot of Ramayana Ballet
Ramayana Ballet Show
The ticket price for Prambanan Ramayana Ballet performance (2015): 
  • VIP: Rp 500,000 (Only for open air stage) 
  • Special: Rp 300,000 
  • First class: Rp 2000,000 
  • Second class: Rp 150,000 
  • Indonesian student: Rp 50,000 (minimum 30 students)


The nearest major cities are Yogyakarta, 17 kilometres to the south west and Solo about 40 kilometres to the north east. The main road connecting these two large cities passes right by Prambanan and this makes transport links very straightforward. The nearest actual town to Prambanan is Klaten, about 3 km to the north.

By plane

Yogyakarta airport is well served by domestic flights from Jakarta, Bali, other major domestic destinations and internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It is just ten kilometres from here to Prambanan. A taxi direct from the airport should cost about Rp 50,000 and take about 20 minutes.
Solo airport is much smaller but has several flights each day from Jakarta and is also connected internationally from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Prambanan is about 90 minutes by bus from Solo airport.

By bus

Trans Jogja, Yogyakarta's newest bus service, also serves a direct route to Prambanan. The bus is air-conditioned and comfortable, but sometimes can be overcrowded. Take number 1A from Malioboro street (Rp 3 600 one way). The first one leaves around 6AM, then every 20 minutes. Depending on traffic, the journey normally takes around 30 minutes, but can take an hour when traffic is heavy. From the terminal station, cross the busy road, turn right, and walk around 300 metres to the pedestrian entrance.
There are regular buses from Yogyakarta's Umbulharjo bus station (30 minutes), as well as a wide variety of tour agency-operated minibuses shuttling directly from Yogyakarta's backpacker haunts. Local buses to/from Solo are also easy to find (90 minutes).

By taxi

A taxi from the center of Yogyakarta costs around Rp. 60,000. The driver may be prepared to wait free of charge for an hour or so and then take you back for the same price, giving a total cost of Rp. 120,000.
Prambanan can be fairly easily covered on foot. If the midday heat is too much, a toy train shuttles around the park (free of charge for foreigners, Rp 7,500 for locals).


Visitors to Prambanan wander around the temples on foot. This is the best way to enjoy the lush landscape and take in the detailed architecture and design of the temples up close.  This temple compound covers 39.8 hectares. In the main yard, there are the three main temples, as well as three Wahana temples, two Apit temples, and eight Patok temples surrounded by fences. In the second yard, there are another 224 Perwara temples. Wandering around here and examining the intricate stonework will be enough to keep you busy all day!   Compared to the temples in Angkor Wat, the temples of Prambanan are much easier to navigate and more tourist-friendly. The area surrounding Prambanan is developed, with a landscaped park and stores selling tourist souvenirs. While it’s not a temple set in a remote rustic setting, the splendor of the temple will make you quickly forget your surroundings. You will be transported back to an ancient time where ritual and culture dominated every part of life.

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