I am drawn to ancient ruins and there’s no helping it.
Structures once revered and bustling with activity have now become a hollow shell of their former splendor. Within the empty halls and the shadows and beneath the tumbled blocks of hewn stone lie memories of greatness, pleasure and anguish we may never know. Intricate ancient carvings may shed light to a ruin’s history, but the myths and legends will remain.
However, despite being ravaged by the endless flow of time and getting reclaimed by nature, they stubbornly cling to the earth as a reminder of ancient beliefs, visions and skills. Ancient ruins remind us of the great heights humanity can reach and at the same time caution us that civilizations do fall and therefore we mustn’t give in to decadence and hubris.
Then there are the questions I cannot help but ask when faced with a ruin. Why and how was this place built? What was it like during its heyday? What led to its destruction, fall or decay? Why was it abandoned? How did the last inhabitants of this place feel when it was time to leave? How was it rediscovered and how did the rediscoverer feel when he came across the place?
Seriously, I’d be more than happy to spend hours finding out the answers to all those questions, listening to the myths and legends that surround any ancient ruin, and letting my imagination soar.
And so I was ecstatic when I finally got the chance to see for myself one of Asia’s largest temple ruins – Prambanan. It is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the temple complex was awe-inspiring to say the least.
By the way, we did this trip to Prambanan in the afternoon of our 3rd day in Indonesia. That morning, we shopped at Malioboro Street and visited Taman Sari or the Sultan Palace.
Fees and Tips
How much will an afternoon tour to Prambanan cost? We arranged everything through our B&B in Yogyakarta and here are the fees we paid:
- Prambanan entrance fee – about Php 770 ($17) per person – payable at the temple gate, but Venezia can give a discount if you pay this fee through them
- Air-conditioned van transport to Prambanan – about Php 370 (IDR 100,000) per person
- Travel time from Yogyakarta – approximately one hour depending on traffic conditions
- Wear conservative clothes since you’re visiting a temple and shorts, short skirts and sleeveless tops won’t be allowed. Plus, Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country and too much skin exposure is discouraged.
- You’ll be given some sort of sarong at the gate. Wear it around your waist all the time while inside. The people at the entrance will show you how to wear it so no worries. Return the fabric when you exit.
Our Prambanan Experience
Everything went smoothly for us. The ride was comfortable; the van driver communicated in broken English but we understood him and he was fun to talk to.
Things were straightforward at the entrance and we were soon walking the very spacious Prambanan grounds. Once there, you can’t miss the towering and pointed architecture of the temple. Built in the 9th century and abandoned in the 930s due to a volcano eruption and political struggles, what’s survived of Prambanan over a thousand years later is surprisingly in good condition.
We spent the whole afternoon there just absorbing the melancholic majesty of the place. For me, this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia and is highly recommended!
The next day, Day 04 of our trip, we started on a high note – we explored vast Borobudur.