The Plaosan Lor or northeren Plaosan temples are also referred to as Vihara Plaosan, because they served as Buddhist monasteries. In form and function they are similar to the Sari temple. Like the latter they had two storeys, the top floor serving as sleeping quarters, although now the wooden floors and stairs have disappeared. There were three rooms on each floor. But there are some differences:
(1) Whereas Candi Sari stands alone, Vihara Plaosan consists of two buildings, each within its own walled yard, the two yards being connected by a gate. Why this is so can be inferred from the reliefs in the interior. In the southern building these depict men, in the northern one women.
(2) In the Plaosan temples some statues of Bodhisatwa's have been preserved. In each ground floor room stood three statues, but the middle one of each trio is missing. This may have been a bronze image of the Buddha himself. Unfortunately the statues in the nortern building have been decapitated, in other words the heads were stolen. But those in the southern building are complete give or take a leg or arm.
(3) The Plaosan temples also have finer reliefs on their walls, some of them depicting the king and queen who ordered their construction. One relief features people in Laotion attire, probably a reference to the people who brought Buddhism to Java.
(4) North of the Vihara is the base of what was a pendopo (meeting room), surrounded by statues.
Restauration of the southern building was completed in 1960. Work on the northern one is still ongoing. In the yard once stood rows of small candi perwara or guard temples; of these only two have been restored.
Guide: When we had duly signed the guestbook, a guide turned up by name of Darto. He was a walking encyclopaedia, naming Bodhisattwa's and kings. For this and an informative booklet of which he is the author, he deserved a tip. But beware, when he starts offering a fake royal title of the Solo court and wants you to buy the statues in his backyard, you better cut him short. You can hardly escape him, because he lives on the short road that connects Plaosan Lor and Plaosan Kidul temples. Another scam: on us leaving a girl appeared with a home-made parking ticket of Rp 5000; we paid the usual Rp 2000.
Directions: Follow Jalan Candi Sewu (the road along the eastern border of the Heritage compound) for 1.5 km until the crossing, then turn right for another 1.2 km until you run into the Plaosan temples.
Candi Sari probably was not really a temple, as it is believed to have been the living quarters of he Buddhist priests serving Candi Kalasan (see Candi Kalasan Tip).
The building had two floors, three spacious rooms on each floor. However, the upper floor was made of wood and has disappeared. This is evident from the cavities on the interior walls that once supported the floor beams. Also the windows in the meter thick walls must have had wooden shutters.
Interior doorways are guarded by unusual kala (spirit monster) heads. The decorations on the outside are generally in better shape than those of Candi Kalasan.
Directions: From Candi Kalasan go 500 m north-east along the main road, then take the byroad going off due north (so 45 degrees left). The byroad takes you a few hundred meters straight to the temple.
Entrance: As usual a signature in the guest book and a voluntary donation. The warden was very eager to point out all the other temple sites.
Another Hindu temple at the foot of Merapi volcano. It is only half restored, some restauration work having been done in 1926 and later in 2000. The top of the temple was assembled in 1926, but still stands at the side where they left it then.
Of interest is the yoni or altar inside the roofless temple. The conduit for water is not the usual gutter in the stone, but a bronze pipe. Intriguing are the reliefs of a snake, a cow and a turtle on the yoni, what can they mean?
See also the curious banister head, a combination of elephant, snake and bird. And pay attention to the fine relief on the side of the staircase.
Address: Karangnongko village, Karangnongko district, Klaten regency.
Directions: On the main road to Yogyakarta, at the western border of Klaten city, find the traffic lights on the eastern corner of the Gondang Winangun Sugar Factory. At these lights take the road north, after 6.5 km turn right to Karangnongko. Another 2 km and you reach a crossing at the Karangnongko district office (Kantor Kecamatan). Here go straight on where you reach a field behind the camat's office. Turn left at this T-crossing, you will see a porch "Candi Merak", a few 100 m more through the village you find the temple at your right hand.
Admission: The gate was locked, but the caretaker pak Slamet came running to open it for us. Write your name in his guest book and give a voluntary donation.
A favourite for nature lovers, this forest on the south-eastern slope of Merapi volcano. At a height of 800 to 1300 m above sea-level, it is possible to hike to Merapi's summit, but we did not (yet) attempt it.
From here one has great views on Klaten plain, that is when clouds do not get in the way. So come early and in the dry season.
Part of the forest is evidently replanted. The deep ravines seem mostly untouched though. Walk the forest trails with the sound of birds. If you are lucky you will meet a band of monkeys (Java macaques).
At the entrance of Deles hamlet there is a barrier, one can drive past at the side of it. Past the village, 2.8 km from the barrier, at a simple bamboo pole a girl asked for Rp 3000 entrance fee. On the road beyond it we met her grandmother carrying fodder for her goat. The road is narrow, but at 800 m from the pole there is a picnic spot, and at 1200 m a hamlet where one can park and turn around.
Of interest in Deles hamlet: the former hideout of Sunan Paku Buwono X, and the sand quarry "Ngudi Lestari".
Address: Sidorejom village, Kemalang district, Klaten regency
Directions: On the main road to Yogyakarta, at the western border of Klaten city, find the traffic lights on the eastern corner of the Gondang Winangun Sugar Factory. At these lights take the road north, Deles Indah is well indicated. It is about 15 km to the barrier. From there it is another 4 km to the trail leading to the summit.
It it said that the ruler of Kartasura in the 1930ies, Sunan Paku Bowono X, meditated in this mountain retreat with the purpose of averting any eruption of Merapi volcano in easterly direction - where Surakarta lies. Indeed, recent eruptions have caused damage to the south and to the west only!
The retreat is therefore still known as Pesanggrahan Sunan Paku Buwono X, although later it seems to have been owned by governor Muchtar. Probably it was he who added a theater for entertaining his guests. At present all structures are in disrepair, some lettering on a wall indicating that it is the property of the regional bank "Bank Pasar Pemda Klaten".
On the wall of the retreat itself there is a map of the Deles Indah region, that you may want to consult.
Address: Sidorejom village, Kemalang district, Klaten regency
Directions: See the directions for Deles Indah. From the barrier it is about 2 km uphill, then you find the retreat at your left hand.
From the ravine of Woro river people are harvesting sand and rock, as they do from Bebeng river near Kaliadem. But also the sand on the ridges seems to be perfect for building purposes. We had a look around at the concession "Ngudi Lestari".
Before loading a truck they place a roof-shaped sieve on it, to filter out bigger pieces of rock. One truckload of sand sells for Rp 210,000. The driver wil take his load as far as Solo, Semarang or Purwodadi and resell it for up to Rp 700,000.
Address: Sidorejom village, Kemalang district, Klaten regency
Directions: See the directions for Deles Indah. From the Deles barrier it is about 1.5 km uphill to Ngudi Lestari quarry. Entrance to Woro river valley is 300 m before you reach the barrier. Both on your left hand.
Here's an abbreviated translation of what it says in Indonesian on the information panel:
"According to an inscription on stone dated 778 AD it was king Panangkaran who had the temple Tarabhawana built and a statue of the goddess Tara placed in it. That temple is now called Candi Kalasan. The same inscription (now at the National Museum in Jakarta) also states that the king had living quarters (asrama) built for the priesthood and donated them the village Kalasan. That ashram is believed to be Candi Sari.
"Evidently Buddhist, Candi Kalasan is unique among the Prambanan temples. Research of its structure has revealed that what we are looking at may be the third version of the building, in other words the Tarabhawana temple was different.
"The characteristic decoration with sulung gelung (vertical winding aerial roots) makes Candi Kalasan seem higher than it is. The finely detailed reliefs were stuccoed, remnants of the plaster can still be seen. The main temple building used to be surrounded by 52 stupa's.
The temple measures 16.5 × 16.5 m square, of its height remains 24 m, the top is missing. At each side is an entrance porch with stairs, but the main entrance is on the east. This entrance leads to the central room where stood the Tara statue, only a large pedestal remains.
"In 1939 and 1940 repairs were made on the roof and the soutern entrance, but a complete restauration has never yet been attempted."
Directions: It is close to the Kalasan traffic lights, which are 4.8 km from Adisucipto Airport and about 2.5 km south of Prambanan.
Just across the road form the SMP school building and the hospital (100 m east of the lights), walk 50 m from the road.
Entrance fee: Your signature in the guest book and a voluntary donation.
Another recently restored temple, still off the tourist itinerary. That is to say there is no parking, and the watchman debated our taking pictures.
Candi Ijo ('green temple') dates back at least to 906 AD, proof of which is an insrciption in stone mentioning the temple. It lies on a hill 357 m above sea level south of Prambanan. The layout is unique in that the complex was built on a series of terraces, whereas most Prambanan temples are built symmetrically around a centre as an image of Meru mountain, the abode of the gods. The layout of Candi Ijo may have been dictated by the sloping terrain.
On the top level are one main and three adjacent temples, all now restored. Work was in progress on the terrace wall. Whereas the lower terraces still show just heaps of stone.
Directions: Go south from the traffic lights past the railway station, same direction as Kraton Ratu Boko. Pass by the road leading to Candi Banyunibo. At 3.4 km from the traffic lights a signboard points you to the left to Candi Ijo. It is 4 km along this road, the last part climbing steeply, until you find the site on your left.
Half way up is a turnoff to the right to Arca Gupolo, and 1 km before Candi Ijo you pass through Gunung Sari village with rock quarries and workshops.
Plaosan Kidul or southern Plaosan temples are just a short walk from Plaosan Lor temples. This is a group of real Buddhist temples, not a monastery. A few of the temples have been restored, most of the site contains remnants only. In the central space may have stood a pendopo or reception hall, and around them a number of candi perwara and stupa perwara (guard temples and stupas).
The complex is dated ninth century A.D.
Directions: See Candi Plaosan Lor.
Candi Sambisari was discovered accidentally in 1966 by a farmer working his land. It has since been dug out from its almost 6 m deep burial in volcanic sand. The sand had not perfectly preserved the temple, as my picture of the excavations in 1971 shows. But it did preserve enough parts for an admirable restauration of the main temple. This took many years, the site was declared open for the public in 1987.
Candi Sambisari has been identified as a Shiva temple of the Mataram empire, which means that it was built around 1500 AD. Typical of a Shiva temple are the centerpiece lingam and yoni (stylised male and female genitals) inside the main temple. On the excavation picture they can be seen in the open air.
Entrance fee is your name in the guest book and a voluntary donation (e.g. Rp 10,000).
Another temple nearby was discovered in 1993 (see Candi Kedulan), and one wonders how many still are hidden under the sand.
Directions: Candi Sambisari lies 2.5 km due north from the Yogya-Solo main road. Find the byroad at 1.0 km east of the Adisucipto Airport, or 6 km west from Prambanan.
Candi Kedulan was discovered in 1993. It is not in the tourist guides yet, because excavation is still ongoing. But a small sign at the Kalasan traffic lights points to the site. No entrance fee, instead a warm welcome by the field workers. We happened to arrive at their lunch time, and they ordered a free portion of mi rebus for us.
Outside the excavation pit parts of the temple are being reassembled, it's like a giant puzzle. And the government still needs to buy some of the adjacent fields in order to open up the full site. During the rainy season the work has to be stopped, because no drainage has been installed yet.
Address of the Yogyakarta Archeology Service:
Suaka Peninggalan Sejarah dan Purbakala DIY,
Jalan Solo km 15,
Directions to the site: 4.8 km east of Adisucipto airport or 2 km west of Prambanan find the Kalasan traffic lights. Here a small sign points to Candi Kedulan into a byroad heading northwest. From the traffic lights it is 3.2 km to where another sign points 200 m to the left.
South of Kraton Ratu Boko are two more, lesser-known temples. Of these Candi Banyunibo is the easiest to visit. It is located in Cepil hamlet, Bokoharjo village, Prambanan district, on a plain surrounded by hills in the north, south and east. The other temple is Candi Barong, standing on a the hill to the east. The following info we copied from a panel in Indonesian, which however did not indicate the age of the temple.
Candi Banyunibo was rediscovered in 1940. Reassembling the temple in stages took a long time, was only finished in 1978. The complex consists of a main temple and six subsidiary ones, three on the eastern side and three on the southern side.
Only the main temple, which faces west, has been restored. The stupa on top shows that is is a buddhist temple. Its layout measures 15 m by 14 m and it is 14 m high. The staircase is flanked by lions, on the outside of the parapets are reliefs depicting unknown persons. On the pedestal are reliefs of plants in pots, which are thought to be symbols of fertility.
The interior of the temple measures 6 m by 4.5 m. On the walls are reliefs too. One shows a child climbing a tree. Another one shows the buddhist goddess Hariti with her children. She is considered the goddess of fertility and motherhood, but also of wealth.
Directions: From the traffic lights in front of Prambanan temple, take the road south. At 5 km a sign points to the left to the back entrance of Kraton Ratu Boku and Candi Banyunibo. At the second sign go straight on until you reach the border of Cepil hamlet. Here it is just 100 m to your right.
Entrance: As usual a warden with a guestbook expects a voluntary donation.
South of Kraton Ratu Boko are two more, lesser-known temple sites, Candi Banyunibo and Candi Barong. The latter is seldom visited, but can easily be found once you get as far as Candi Banyunibo. It is a quarter of an hour's hike uphill from Cepil hamlet.
When we were there we found no one able to give an explanation, there were just a couple of village boys. Two temple buildings are in fair condition, there must have been a third one. From the style we think they are Hindu temples, in contrast to Candi Banyunibo.
Directions: From the traffic lights in front of Prambanan temple, take the road south. At 5 km a sign points to the left to the back entrance of Kraton Ratu Boku and Candi Banyunibo. At the second sign go straight on until you reach Cepil hamlet. Here a sign points straight on to Candi Barong. Enter the village, and at a T-crossing go left. When the road starts going uphill, take the steep footpath uphill, not the road. After a quarter of an hour's ascent you will see Candi Barong.
Entrance: We found the place deserted, no warden with a guestbook around.
Our Lonely Planet Guide states that near the village of Sajiwan are the ruins of a Buddhist temple (the name may be spelled both as Sajiwan and as Sojiwan). We found that it's more than ruins, reconstruction has been ongoing for some years. According to a warden on the site, the restauration might have been complete by now, if the earthquake of 2006 had not undone part of the work. As it is, he hopes that the work will be finished in 2010. It appears to us that by then Candi Sowijan may look like a twin of Candi Banyunibo.
At present this is your chance to see what a restauration entails. It's like a giant 3-dimensional puzzle, with piles of rock all over the place and a lot of partially reconstructed details. It is easy to see where missing blocks have been replaced with new ones. The temple itself is surrounded by wooden scaffolding.
Directions: Find the most eastern traffic lights in Prambanan, where a signboard points to the railway station (Stasiun KA). Take this road and cross te railway going south past Sajiwan village. After about 1 km from the main road, on the other side of the village, turn right and you will soon find the site on your left hand.
Entrance: As usual your name in a guest book and a voluntary contribution. Not many names in the book!
Hidden among shrubs in a valley stand one lifesize statue of Siwa Mahadewa and several smaller statues. Archaeologists think that the Arca Cupolo site may have been a workshop where Hindu statues were made. This may well be so, at least the site is close to present stone quarries. The footpath to the site starts at a stonecutters workshop. Next to the site in the valley are a source and bathing place.
Directions: See also directions for Candi Ijo. From Prambanan take the road south past the railway station. At 3.4 km turn left, after another 2 km find a small sign pointing right to Arca Gupolo. Only about 150 m down this village road are a small level spot full of discarded stone, where a car can turn around and park, and a stonecutters workshop. Between the parking and the shop a footpath leads down to Arca Gupolo, just 50 m or so.