Shreds of silky white clouds flowed over the hilltops all around. As the clouds made their advance, I turned around to see a wall of rain slowly closing in. For the moment, everything was still on Mount Ungaran, almost 1,000 meters above sea level at one of Central Java’s most revered temple complexes.
A few seconds later and the full force of Indonesia’s monsoon season was unleashed. The few people who had managed the walk up the slope of Mount Ungaran all dived into the nearest eighth-century Hindu temple they could find and took shelter.
“ Hujan [rain],” sighed an old Indonesian woman doubled over by the weight of a basket full of snacks.
There was no light in the temple, the inside of which was about the size of an elevator. The temple was part of Gedung Songo (Nine Buildings), a tourist attraction in Bandungan.
There are five temple clusters at Gedung Songo, built more than 1,000 years ago during the Sanjaya dynasty, which ruled Central Java during the eighth and ninth centuries
The temples look as if a strong gust of wind could blow them over, yet although simple in design, they give an insight into classic Javanese architecture.
Built between 730 and 780 AD out of volcanic stone, along with the Dieng Plateau site near Wonosobo they are Central Java’s most ancient Hindu structures.
Image of old steam train