Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sacred Monuments: Ancient Temples of Java

The great monuments of Java are either Hindu or Bhuddist, or more likely combinations of both. Most of the sites were built in Java's heroic age of temple constuction, which lasted from the 8th to the 10th centuries. For mysterious reasons, many of these sites were abandoned soon after they were built.

Prambanan Plain

This highland plain was once densely populated, with a rich network of temples and other sacred sites.
The most dramatic and important is the Loro Jonggrang complex, dedicated to the Hindu god Siva. The centerpiece of the complex is the central Siva temple, which stands 152 feet tall. It resembles a gothic spire cut off at the base — massive and impressive, with an emphasis on vertical lines similar to European Gothic cathedrals. The gaze is drawn up and making the structure appear awesomely tall.


This is the world's largest Buddhist monument. Laid out like a pyramidal mandala, it's a cosmology framed and inscribed in stone, massive amounts of stone — 6,500 cubic yards of it.
Nirvana is elusive. The stupa, or tower at the top, has been destroyed by lightening. An unfinished statue Buddha that was found in the stupa has been moved a hundred yards away from the temple. But Borobudur stands as one of the great spiritual monuments of the world. A definite must see on the island of Java.

Dieng Plateau

The plain is a misty (and mystical) volcanic caldera. In certain areas, vents in the earth emit toxic gases. The name of the plateau comes from the Old Javanese words"di-hyang," which means deified ancestors. The idea being that this is their home. And the total effect of the mists, the altitude, and the collection of ancient ruins gives you the feeling that something is present. And the hope that you have easy-going ancestors.

The remains of the oldest Hindu temples in Java have been found here.

Mt. Luwu

Mt. Luwu is in the rustic part of central Java. It has several unusual temples on its slopes, all reachable by hiking from one to the other. The scenery is dramatic, and there are many hidden treasure spots to find along the way

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