Wandering in Wonderful Indonesia: Candi Sewu

While waiting for the sunset, best witnessed in Candi Prambanan, Angge, Kuya Anton, I made our way to Candi Sewu, a Buddhist temple built in the 8th century.

Discovering Candi Sewu

Because of its proximity (or lack thereof) from Candi Prambanan, there were only a few foreigners who were at Candi Sewu when we visited the temple, which allowed us to take these pictures, uninhibited.

Discovering Candi Sewu

Discovering Candi Sewu

Discovering Candi Sewu

Truth be told, despite the beauty of the place, it gave me a creepy feel that got me to ask Kuya Anton not to leave me.  Haha!  It seemed like an ancient ghost would pop anytime soon.  Yes, blame my imagination.

Discovering Candi Sewu

Discovering Candi Sewu

Discovering Candi Sewu

As soon as I could connect to the internet, I researched on the history of Candi Sewu.  And, guess what, there was actually a sad and scary story behind the temple.  With its Javanese name translated to “a thousand temples”, it is believed to be based on the folklore of Rara Jonggrang.  

Discovering Candi Sewu

Prabu Damar Moyo, a wise king who ruled Pengging, had a son named Prince Bandung Bondowoso.  Prabu Boko, on the other hand, was a cruel man-eating giant who ruled Boko.  Prabu Boko sought to expand his kingdom and launched a surprise attack on Pengging.  Prabu Damar Moyo sent his son, Prince Bandung Bondowoso, to fight Prabu Boko.  And, in the battle, the former killed the latter.

Candi Sewu

This devastated Rara Jonggrang, the beautiful daughter of Prabu Boko.  And, while she was grieving for the death of his father, Prince Bandung Bondowoso was mesmerized by the beauty of Rara Jonggrang and asked her to marry him.  Initially, Rara Jonggrang rejected the offer of marriage.  But, Prince Bandung Bondowoso’s persistence got her to say yes on two conditions:  that he builds a well named Jalatunda and that he constructs a thousand temples in only one night.

Discovering Candi Sewu

The prince, using his supernatural powers, completed the construction of Jalatunda and presented it to the princess.  The princess, the tricky girl that she was, urged him to enter the well and had the assistant of his father, another giant, Patih Gupolo, pile stones into the well to bury the prince alive.  Bandung Bondowoso endeavored to escape and, because of his great love for the princess, forgave her on the attempt on his life.

Discovering Candi Sewu

In fulfilling the second condition, the prince conjured up demon spirits and had them help him build the first 999 temples and start working on the final one.  But, because the princess really didn’t want to marry Bandung Bondowoso, she and her maids lit a fire and began pounding rice, fooling the spirits into thinking that the sun was about to rise which meant that they had to flee back into the earth, leaving the last temple unfinished.

Candi Sewu

When Bandung Bondowoso learned about the deception, he became furious.  He placed a curse on Rara Jonggrang and turned her into a stone statue.  She became a feature of the final temple, completing its construction and fulfilling the conditions for their union.

Discovering Candi Sewu

So, see?  There was actually a reason why I got the creepy feel while we were at the temple.  And, this is one of the reasons why I love traveling – I get to learn and appreciate works of art at face value and through the stories (and lessons) behind each. :)

Discovering Candi Sewu


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Thank you! And, in whatever space you’re in now, I hope that you get something from reading my articles.

See ya,
Monica

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