A Few Days in Yogyakarta and Around (October 2015)

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In October-November 2015 I was traveling in Taiwan. But a forecasted typhoon led me to do a short side-trip to Central Java, Indonesia, which is considered to be the heart of the Javanese culture. I visited the area around Yogyakarta, with its numerous Hindu-Buddhist temples (candis) dating from the 8th-9th centuries. Yogyakarta is the only region in Indonesia still governed by a pre-colonial monarchy, the Sultan of Yogyakarta, who serves as the hereditary governor of the region.

 

During my short stay in Yogyakarta Jogja Trans Holiday provided me with excellent transportation services to all the locations that I visited. The owner, Yuono Tartousodo, was very helpful and the drivers were always on time and generous with their time.

 

Yogyakarta:

 

The bird market, Pasar Ngasem, is a particularly interesting place.

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People come to this market with friends and family to listen to the ″music″ of songbirds for hours.

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The best songbirds deserve beautifully decorated cages.

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Gamelan players in the sultan palace, the kraton. Gamelan is a native art that predates Java‛s Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic cultures. 

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Candi Borobudur:

 

Candi Borobudur, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple, is one of the greatest monuments in the world. It consists of 9 platforms, a 118x118m square base platform, 5 square platforms decorated with bas-relief panels and Buddha statues, and 3 circular platforms with 72 Buddha statues sitting in holed stupas. It is topped by a central stupa.

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(Source of pictures: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur)

 

I visited Borobudur at dawn. Since the higher circular platforms are the best place to observe sunrise, the photos below are shown from top to bottom.

 

Successive views of holed stupas in the circular platforms during sunrise.

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Each of the 72 holed stupas contains a Buddha statue with hand gesture of Dharmachakra mudra.

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The 5 square platforms below the circular ones are decorated with 2,672 bas-relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.

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A few of the bas-relief panels.

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Views of the temple from the basis.

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Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut:

 

These two temples are located a few kilometers east of Candi Borobudur.

 

Left: Candi Pawon (8th century AD). Right: Candi Mendut (9th century AD).

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Bas-relief of Kuwera in Candi Mendut. Kuwera is a god of wealth and well-being, a guardian of children, a defender of Buddhism, and the husband of the goddess Hariti. Here he sits on a bench surrounded by children playing and helping each other climb fruit trees.

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Candi Mendut contains three remarkable statues representing Vairocana Buddha (center) with Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (left) and Vajrapani Bodhisattva (right) at its sides.

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Statue representing Sakyamuni Buddha in the modern Mendut Monastery, next to the old Candi Mendut. The area around Borobudur is becoming again a center of Buddhism with several modern monasteries.

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Candi Prambanan:

Candi Prambanan is a spectacular ensemble of 9th-century Hindu temples. It is characterized by its tall pointed buildings and a wealth of sculptural detail. The tallest building in the center, Shiva temple, is 47m high. The other two major temples are the Vishnu and Brahma temples (33m each).

 

Ground layout.

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Shiva temple (tallest building) and Vishnu temple.

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View from the northern side of the compound. From right to left: Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma temples, and three smaller temples on the eastern side of the compound.

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Gate on the northern side of the compound.

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Some sculptural details.

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Some statues inside the temples.

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Ganesh

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Candi Sewu:

 

Candi Sewu is an 8th-century Buddhist temple located 800 meters north of Prambanan. It originally consisted of 249 buildings: a main central temple and 248 smaller temples, 8 ″candi penjuru″ and 240 ″candi perwara″.

 

Ground layout.

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Central temple in the middle of the photo, with two candi penjuru behind the two statues of dvarapala guardian and two candi perwara visible on the right.

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Other views of the central temple.

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Some the smaller temples (candi perwara) surrounding the central temple.

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Candi Plaosan:

 

Candi Plaosan is a 9th-century Buddhist temple complex located two kilometers to the northeast of Prambanan. The more interesting part of the complex, Plaosan Lor, consists of two twin main temples.

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Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho:

 

Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho are two 15th-century Hindu temples, both dedicated to fertility worship, built on the beautiful slopes of Gunung Lawu (3265m). They are some of the last Hindu temples built in Java before it converted to Islam. By the 15th century Javanese Hinduism (both the religion itself and the associated arts) had diverged from the Indian precepts that had influenced the Javanese temples built during the 8th and 9th centuries. These two temples have similarities with Balinese Hinduist temples.

 

Tea plantations on the slope of Gunung Lawu.

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Candi Sukuh is not very impressive in size and layout, but contains a large number of well-preserved statues and stone carvings.

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Candi Cetho is located at an altitude of 1496m. It consists of an alignment of several terraces connected by long staircases similar to those found in some Balinese temples.

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Ascent of Gunung Merapi (2911m):

 

At the end of this trip I climbed Gunung Merapi, an active volcano located some 30 kilometers north of Yogyakarta. For more detail click here.

 

Merapi seen from the road before reaching the village of Selo, the start of the climb.

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The upper cone of the volcano.

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Top of Merapi at sunrise.

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