Wednesday, December 27, 2017

INDONESIA - Prambanan

Our second foray from Yogyakarta was to the 9th century Hindu temples at Prambanan. We chose a tour that gave us an afternoon to wander around the site on our own, transport to a local restaurant for dinner and return to Prambanan for an evening dance performance of the Ramayana epic with the floodlit temples as a backdrop.

Although they are not as imposing as Borobudur (see previous post), I preferred them for their elegance and the more sensitive restoration.

There are three principal structures, one each dedicated to the triumvirate of Hindu gods: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Smaller temples surround these three. Like Borobudur, the site was abandoned, plundered and rediscovered. Restoration is ongoing, hampered by the difficulty of locating and reclaiming many of the pieces.

 Fewer tourists than at Borobudur made this an easier place to enjoy the unique features and artistry of the temples.

I was intrigued by the number of panels depicting monkeys.

... and also by a depiction of a pregnant woman.

 Originally, each candi (individual temple), held images of gods or sacred creatures. Some of these have been restored, including a statue of Ganesha, the monkey god and one of the Trimurti, the three-faced image that represents the three major gods. It's very dark in these niches but fortunately Michael had a small flashlight that gave enough illumination without the harshness of a camera flash.

After our meal in a pleasant and simple little restaurant nearby, we returned at dark to watch the ballet performance on a large concrete stage. Our seats were also concrete, but provided with comfortable cushions. Many people in the cheaper sections, which seemed to be only available to locals, brought their own. Regardless of where you sat, you had a good view of the stage, with the temples looming behind.

The performance was spectacular and well worth the price (around $30 per person for the second-best seats.) Dancers performed in front of a choir and gamelan orchestra

The climax of the drama involved the lighting of huge fires through which Hanuman, the White Monkey King leaped to conquer the wicked magician who had kidnapped the beautiful princess Sita.

The fires were hot enough that we felt the warmth on our faces.

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