While scholars may be uncertain as to who built the temple of Loro Jonggrang at Prambanan, there is no dubt in the minds of local residents that it was constructed in one night by Bandung Bondowoso, the Legend surrounding the temple goes something like this.
Loro Jonggrang was the daughter of Ratu Boko, whose palace was situated on Ratu Boko Hill, to the south of Prambanan. When a demonic warrior price by the name of Bandung Bondowoso asked for her hand in marriage, Loro Jonggrang agreed, on the condition that he build for her a vast temple in a single night. Undeterred by the request, Bandung Bondowoso took up the seemingly impossible challenge and, when evening came, set to work. As the result of his extraordinary magical power, the temple began to take shape rapidly and by 3 o’clok in the morning it was almost finised. Seeing that her conditions were going to be met, and that she would be forced to marry this unwelcome, Loro Jonggrang immediately ordered the villagers to begin pounding rice, whice was a customary sign that the new day had begun. At that moment, Bandung Bondowoso had only one more statue to complete. In his anger at having been tricked in this way he cursed the princess and turned her into the image of Durga whice now stand in the northern chamber of the main temple at Prambanan.
Prambanan today is a small Vilage lying about 16 kilometres east of Jogjakarta. To the north lies the smouldering mass of Mt. Merapi. For the ancient Javanese who lived in it’s shadow, the mountain was a sacred symbol, the resting place of gods and acestor. It was the great provider, source of the swift flowing rivers whice poured down from it’s slopes to water the fertile plains. When angered, however, it would erupt violently, causing the most awesome devastation. Little wonder, then, that it was deemed necessary to placate Merapi’s resident spirits with prayers and offerings.
The peaks of Prambanan are montains in miniature. They were builth from block of andesite stone washed down forom merapi by the River Opak, whice flows southwards along the temple’s western boundary.
Loro Jonggarang was the last great construction in Central Java before the centre of power shifted to the east in the 10th century. It was probabty builth as a memorial shrine for a powerful king who identified hi,self with the Hindu God shiva.
The statue of the god stands in the central chamber of the main building. The complex consists of 3 squares, set one inside the other. The innermost court, measuring 110 meters square, contain six man temples, two minor buildings and eight small shirnes. Surrounding this inner group are 224 perwara, or ‘bridesmaid’ temples, whice descened in four tiers and together from a square 222 meters long on each side. This whole is enclosed in yet a third square of 390 metres, which in the past probably contained various wooden buildings, such as lodgings and facilities for priests, pilgrims and worshippers.
The inner courtyard is dominatedf by the giant temple of Siva, which towers close to fifty meters above the ground, flanked on each side by the temples of Brahma (south) and Visnu (north). Steps on each of the building lead to four chambers, aligned with the cardinal points, housing statues of Shiva mahadeva (east), Bhatara Guru, the Devinie Teacher (south), ganesa, the elephant headed son of Shiva (west), and in the north Durga, Shiva’s consort in wrathful aspect. The base and body of the temple are covered in relief carvings, depieting guardians of the cardinal directions, celestial musicians and dancers and, on the inner side of the balustrade enclosing the continued on the temple of Brahma, while the Vishnu temple displays episodes from the life of Krishna.
Beside each flight of steps on the main building are small shrines called Menara Sudut. The shrinelying on the south side of the eastern flight contains three stones whice are said to mark the exact centre of the complex. The Shiva temple, then, was purposely built off centre, probably for magical reasons. Facing the main building is a smaller temple containing a statue of the bull Nandi, the Vehicle of Siva.
Like other monuments in the area, Prambanan has suffered thought centuries of neglect. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have also contributed towards it’s disintegration. Nonetheless, efforts to resurrect the great monument have been continuing steadily for the past sixty years or so, with considerable success. The Shiva temple, which had completely collapsed, was completed in 1953. Since then, other task of rebuilding Loro Jonggrang Continues day.