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Exploring ancient kingdom, civilization on Yogyakarta’s Shiva Plateau

Stefanus Ajie

The Jakarta Post

Sleman, Yogyakarta  /  Mon, November 4, 2019  /  04:40 pm
  • Candi Ijo, located 425 meters above sea level, is at a higher altitude than any other temple on Shiva Plateau.

    Candi Ijo, located 425 meters above sea level, is at a higher altitude than any other temple on Shiva Plateau. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Candi Ijo, located 425 meters above sea level, is at a higher altitude than any other temple on Shiva Plateau.

  • Discovered as ruins in the 1940s, the main chamber is the only part of Banyunibo temple that has been renovated. Six small accompanying temples have not been renovated as many of their stones are broken or too weathered.

    Discovered as ruins in the 1940s, the main chamber is the only part of Banyunibo temple that has been renovated. Six small accompanying temples have not been renovated as many of their stones are broken or too weathered. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Discovered as ruins in the 1940s, the main chamber is the only part of Banyunibo temple that has been renovated. Six small accompanying temples have not been renovated as many of their stones are broken or too weathered.

  • Functioning mainly as a palace in its heyday, Ratu Boko temple has a stone main gate, a fortress and a moat.

    Functioning mainly as a palace in its heyday, Ratu Boko temple has a stone main gate, a fortress and a moat. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Functioning mainly as a palace in its heyday, Ratu Boko temple has a stone main gate, a fortress and a moat.

  • Ruins of a water castle where the royals bathed at Ratu Boko palace.

    Ruins of a water castle where the royals bathed at Ratu Boko palace. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Ruins of a water castle where the royals bathed at Ratu Boko palace.

  • Buddhist monks visit Ratu Boko temple, presumably built in the eighth century by the Sailendra tribe from from Medang kingdom.

    Buddhist monks visit Ratu Boko temple, presumably built in the eighth century by the Sailendra tribe from from Medang kingdom. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Buddhist monks visit Ratu Boko temple, presumably built in the eighth century by the Sailendra tribe from from Medang kingdom.

  • Barong temple resembles a step pyramid from the pre-Hindu era.

    Barong temple resembles a step pyramid from the pre-Hindu era. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Barong temple resembles a step pyramid from the pre-Hindu era.

  • Tranquil woods surrounding Candi Miri on top of a hill on Shiva Plateau.

    Tranquil woods surrounding Candi Miri on top of a hill on Shiva Plateau. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    Tranquil woods surrounding Candi Miri on top of a hill on Shiva Plateau.

  • The ruins of a circular base of a stupa at Candi Dawangsari.

    The ruins of a circular base of a stupa at Candi Dawangsari. OF JP/Stefanus Ajie

    The ruins of a circular base of a stupa at Candi Dawangsari.

OF

The hillside of Bokoharjo village in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, had became parched and leaves were falling from the trees as the dry season reached its peak. Located 3.9 kilometers from Prambanan temple, the hill nonetheless hasn't lost its charm.

Dutch epigraphist and archeologist Nicolaas Johannes Krom conducted research on the hill in the 1900s, and named the hill Shiva Plateau because many nearby Hindu temples were dedicated to Shiva.

The temples were built during the days of the Medang kingdom in the eighth century.

Buddhist temples, as well as temples of mixed Hindu and Buddhist influence such as Ratu Boko and Sojiwan temples, are also found on Shiva Plateau.

Historical sites dating back to the Medang kingdom are spread in several locations on Shiva Plateau, with some undergoing excavation and renovation. Some can be found scattered on the hill or on local residents’ property.

Exploring the historical sites makes for a fun adventure, as the road winds up the hill from where woods, gardens and villages can be viewed and marveled at. Some historical sites interesting to visit on Shiva Plateau are listed below.

Candi Ratu Boko

This temple is a compound that includes the king’s palace, thought to have been built in the eighth century by the Sailendra tribe from the Medang kingdom. Located in Bokoharjo and Sambirejo villages, Ratu Boko temple is located 196 meters above sea level on the slope of the hill. The compound covers a 25-hectare area.

Functioning mainly as a Medang kingdom palace, Ratu Boko temple has a stone main gate, a fortress and a moat. It also has a cremation chamber, an assembly hall, keputren (living quarters for princesses), a water castle where the royals bathed and a meditation cave.

Ratu Boko temple also has visitor facilities such as parking area, information center, restaurant and an open-air theater with a view of Prambanan temple in the distance. It is also a perfect location to take in the sunset.

Read also: Jakpost explores Yogyakarta

Candi Banyunibo

A Buddhist temple built in approximately the ninth century, Banyunibo is located in Bokoharjo village, 1.8 kilometers from Ratu Boko temple. The temple is nestled between rice fields and a residential area in the valley of Shiva Plateau.

Banyunibo temple has a stupa on top of its main chamber, as well as another chamber measuring 6.8 by 4.5 meters with a kalamakara relief carved on its gate.

The ruins of the temple were discovered in the 1940s. The main chamber is the only part of Banyunibo temple that has been renovated. The six perwara (small accompanying temples) have not been renovated as many of their stones are too weathered or broken.

Banyunibo temple is currently undergoing a facelift comprising the development of a garden, eateries and an open space that can be utilized for art and cultural performances.

Candi Ijo

This temple complex spans 0.8 hectare, in the form of terraces with stone walls. However, the total area of Candi Ijo is presumed to be more than 0.8 hectare as many artifacts can be found in the temple’s surroundings.

The main part of Candi Ijo houses a pair of sizable Lingga Yoni, the symbols of virility and fertility often found in Hindu and Buddhist temples. It is also surrounded by three smaller temples symbolizing the worship of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Candi Ijo, located 425 meters above sea level, is at a higher altitude than any other temple on Shiva Plateau. The location is called “Gumuk Ijo” as written in the Poh inscription dated the year 906.

From Candi Ijo, visitors can easily reach Tebing Breksi (Breksi cliff) tourist destination 850 meters away.

Candi Barong and Candi Dawangsari

These two temples stand only 100 meters apart, with a narrow road in Candisari hamlet in between. Both were built during the Medang kingdom. Candi Barong is a Hindu temple while Dawangsari is a Buddhist temple.

An inscription at Ratu Boko indicates that Candi Barong was built by Sri Kumbaja and initially named Candi Sari Suragedug. The temple was later renamed Candi Barong because of the Makara relief carved on its main chamber, resembling the shape of barong (lion-like creature and character in Balinese mythology, dubbed the king of spirits).

Meanwhile, Candi Dawangsari – now in ruins and in the process of rebuilding - stands on higher ground than Candi Barong. A circular layout of stones at Candi Dawangsari forms the base of a sizeable stupa. There are smaller stupas at the sides of the temple, but most of them are in bad condition.

Read also: Things you should know before visiting temples in Bali

Ganesha Dowangsari statue and Candi Miri

The statue is located in Sumberwatu village and makes a good stopping point before visiting Candi Miri. Both attractions are nestled among trees on a secluded hillside.

Ganesha Dowangsari was first discovered in bad condition, especially around its head. Depicting a figure with the head of an elephant, the 2-meter-tall statue only has a trunk, legs and torso.

A Ganesha statue is usually part of a big temple complex, but no research on the site has been conducted.

Going to Candi Miri from Ganesha Dowangsari, travelers are recommended to take the journey with a knowledgeable guide as the location is secluded.

The trip can be made by vehicle only to the end of the Sambirejo village road, after which it must be completed by foot, climbing the hill and following a trail through the woods to reach Candi Miri, which is a Hindu temple in a state of ruin.

Although the temple is in need of renovation, paying a visit offers an exciting adventure for those who enjoy the woods and pristine hillside. (mut)

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