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Kraton Ratu Boko history

Kraton Ratu Boku was build during the reign of a descendant of the Sailendra dynasty – one of the most powerful kingdoms on ancient Java. Exactly when the Ratu Boko was built is difficult to say, as the ancient Javanese didn’t write any formal documentation.

However, inscriptions mention Ratu Boko being occupied as early as in the 8th century. The exact purpose of Ratu Boko is also hard to say. Some different theories have evolved, the most recognized one being that Ratu Boko was in fact a fortified monastery.

Inscriptions and symbols

Inscriptions tell us that the palace initially was named “Abhayagiri Vihara” – which literally means “monastery on a peaceful hill”. This supports the theory that it was built for seclusion purpose and focused on spiritual life.

Throughout Ratu Boko, visitors can find both Hindu and Buddhist symbols. These show, just like many other temple sites in the area show, that the two religions lived side by side in peace on ancient Java.

Loro Jonggrang

The site has gotten its name from the legendary king Boko, one of the main characters in the famous folklore called “Loro Jonggrang”. This folklore connects the Ratu Boko Palace, the Durga statue in Prambanan temple with the Sewu temple.

The legend tells the story about two ancient and neighboring kingdoms in Java, Pengging and Boko. The two kingdoms raged war against each other and after a series of devastating battles, Pengging came out victorious. In the last battle, the Pengging Prince, filled with supernatural powers, defeated the enemy king. After his victory, the Prince requested a marriage between himself and the dead king’s daughter, whose beauty was unmatched.

To get the full story of “Loro Jonggrang”, check out Sewu temple.

Why visit Kraton Ratu Boko ?

The vast Kraton Ratu Boko, also known as Ratu Boko’s Palace, is different compared to many other heritage sites around Java. While the majority of the heritage sites are temples or shrines, this place is more like a ruin than anything else.

Due to its ruinous condition, it can be hard to make any sense of the place and many tourists reject Ratu Boko for this reason.

However, Ratu Boko has a very special history and charm connected to it, so don’t let its ruinous looks fool you.

Ratu Boko structures

Ratu Boko is built on a high plateau, divided into several terraces. While many of the original buildings is believed to have been constructed in wood, and thus no longer present, Ratu Boko still have several interesting buildings.
The most obvious building is the beautiful main gate.

By looking closely at the first of the two gates, visitors can read an inscription; “Panabwara”. This word was inscribed by one of the leaders of the time with the intention of legitimating his authority as well as to give ‘power’ to the gate.

Close to the main gate stands a temple made of white stones, known as Candi Badu Putih, which means the Temple of White Stones. Another temple located nearby is the Combustion temple. The function of this two leveled square temple was, as the name suggests, to burn dead bodies.

Amerta Mantana

By doing some exploration of Ratu Boko, visitors can also find several smaller temples, meditation caves as well as ponds made for bathing. One particular pool within the bathing place is considered sacred by Hindu people and is called ‘Amerta Mantana’. It is believed that the water of Amerta brings luck for anyone who uses it. Hindu people still use it to this very day during the Tawur Agung ceremony. This is a purification ceremony which takes place one day before “Nyepi”: the Hindu New Year.

Outstanding views

Due to its location on a plateau, many spots of in Kraton Ratu Boku will provide a great panoramic view of Prambanan with Mount Merapi in the background. Many say that the great thing about Ratu Boko is that it’s such a calm and peaceful place. Somehow the spirit of the old monastery still surrounds this beautiful place.

Kraton Ratu Boko location

Kraton Ratu Boko is located on a plateau, south of Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In order to get to Kraton Ratu Boko, take the minor road from Prambanan towards Piyungan and one will find the remains of this palace to the left after about three kilometers.

For the exact location of Kraton Ratu Boku, check out the location Map to the right.

Ratu Boko Video

Prambanan history

Exactly when the beautiful Prambanan Temple Compound was build is hard to say, as there is no formal written records of the construction of Prambanan. Prambanan Temple is believed to have been built in the 9th century during Ancient Java’s greatest empire, The Mataram Sultanate.

Rival dynasties

During this time, power of central Java shifted between different families. The construction of Prambanan was probably built to mark the return of the Sanjaya dynasty after almost a century of under control by the rival Sailendra.

During this era, it was not uncommon for the different dynasties to raise monuments and temples in their name – not only as a way to display their dominance – but also to fortify their religion in the area. This is the reason why so many temples in the area which dates back to this period.

As Prambanan is a Hindu Temple, it hardly comes as a surprise that the Sanjaya’s were Hindus. The Sailendra’s however, were Buddhists, and the ones responsible for many of the Buddhist temples in the area, the most famous one being Borobudur. Many see Prambanan as Sanjaya’s response to Sailendra’s mighty Borobudur.

Two of a kind

While both dynasties main temples seem quite similar, there are some distinct differences between Prambanan and Borobudur.. The difference between Prambanan and Borobudur. in not only that they worship different religions, but there is also a distinct architectural difference between the two. Travelers visiting both temples will be able to see the difference. Prambanan consists more of sharp sculpted towers in contrast to the vast horizontal bulk of Buddhist Borobudur.

Decline and destruction

The Sanjaya dynasty controlled the island around 100 years until the Isyana dynasty took over in the 10th century. They moved the court to East Java, for which reason is still unknown. This marked the beginning of the Prambanan Temple’s decline, as it soon became abandoned and began to deteriorate.

Disaster struck the Prambanan Temple in the mid 16th century, when a major earthquake caused many of the temples to collapse and left the area in ruins.

Rediscovery

Prambanan Temple was unknown to the world until the beginning of the 19th century, when a surveyor stumbled upon the temple by chance during Britain’s short-lived rule of the Dutch East Indies.

Even though a full survey of the ruins was commissioned, they remained neglected for decades. The British and Dutch looted the ruins and took sculptures as garden ornaments while native villagers used foundation stone as construction material.

The looting later ceased and restoration of the area began in 1918. The restoration team had a policy that at least 75% of the original masonry needed to be available in order to restore a temple. As much material were stolen and reused at remote construction sites, only the foundations of most of the smaller temples are now visible with no plans for their reconstruction.

Why visit Prambanan ?

Prambanan is the largest Hindu Temple in whole Indonesia. This temple, locally referred to as Loro Jonggrang Temple, is one of the many magnificent temples in the area. These temples are the remains of the powerful civilizations that lived on the Java Island. Prambanan is known for its sheer size and beauty and is a must see for anyone visiting the region as it has a lot to offer.

Prambanan is dominated by three larger structures. The three main temples are called Trimurti – “the three forms”. It is a Hindu concept which includes three gods; Brahma the Creator, Vishnuthe Keeper and Shiva the Destroyer.

Temple of Shiva

The largest temple in the center is dedicated to Shiva. It consists of five chambers; one large and four smaller ones. Inside the large main chamber stands a large three meters statue depicting Shiva and in the smaller chambers statues of Hindu gods related to Shiva.

The northern chamber holds a statue of Durga; the slender Virgin. She is one of the main characters in the folktale “Loro Jonggrang” that has given the temple its local name. In the folktale she refuses to become married and as a penalty she gets turned into stone.

Temple of Vishnu

The north temple is dedicated to Vishnu the Keeper. This temple consists of one main chamber which houses a statue of Vishnu. On the balustrades in Vishnu temple, visitors can find series of magnificent bas-relief depicting Krishnayana; the story of lord Krishna.

Temple of Brahma

The south temple is dedicated to Brahma the Creator and is also made up of one large main chamber with a statue of Brahma. The bas-reliefs along the balustrades on the gallery around both Brahma and Shiva temple depict the Hindu legend of Ramayana. They illustrate how Rama, is abducted by Ravana. The monkey king Hanuman brings his army to help Rama and rescue Sita.

Animal shrines

In front of each of the three main temples stands a smaller shrine. These shrines are dedicated to the mounts of the respective gods; the bull Nandi for Shiva, the swan Hamsa for Brahma and the eagle Garuda for Vishnu.

In front of the temple dedicated to Shiva’s mount stands statue of Nandi the bull. Visitors can also see a statue of Chandrathe god of moon and Surya the god of sun, both standing in carriages drawn by horses. The other shrines probably also had a statue of their respective mount, but were most likely stolen during the Dutch occupancy.

Surrounding temples

In the main temple area, visitors can also find some smaller shrines surrounding the main temples. The purposes of these shrines still rather unknown, but they were likely places of worship for the Brahmins and their disciples.

Prambanan Temple Compound consists of in total 237 temples, either big or small and in different conditions. Surrounding the main temple area are 224 small identical temples, though many of them lie in ruins.

These are called “Candi Perwara” – the Guardian Temples. Some believe that the temples represent the Mataram caste system, as the temples are arranged in four rows, and that each row was designed to be used by one caste only. Others believe they were quite simply a place for meditation.

Surrounding the whole Prambanan Temple Compound is the outer zone which is believed to have housed a park, living quarters and other supportive buildings. As these buildings are believed to have been built in organic material, nothing is left of them today.

The theatre

One thing to keep an extra eye on is the open air theatre, located just west of Prambanan temple, across the small river. The theatre has ballet performances of the great Hindu legend of Ramayana during some parts of the year. This act, performed during full moon, set against an illuminated Prambanan, is said to be quite spell-binding.

UNESCO site

Today, the Prambanan Temple Compound is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has become one of Indonesia’s key tourist attractions and a major landmark in the area. Even so, Prambanan is often overshadowed by the nearby Borobudur. The reality is that most people find Prambanan just as awe inspiring as its bigger brother and I’m sure you will like it as well.

Prambanan location

Prambanan is located on Java, Indonesia. The temple is situated around 18 km east of Yogyakarta city, on the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java province. Prambanan is located in between the temple sites Kraton Ratu Boko and , Sewu Temple. For the exact location of Prambanan, check out the location Map to the right.

Prambanan video gallery