Saturday, 25 April 2015

Travel Photos Series#7-Nan Lian Garden, Hong Kong

Golden Pagoda at Nan Lian Garden
Took this picture at Nan Lian Garden on 6 December 2012 at Hong Kong . This place holds great memory for Alison as she used to live here till the area was cleared to make way for the garden. You will not miss the Golden Pagoda in the photo if you visit here as it was the star attraction in this beautiful Tang Dynasty-styled garden. Just a stone throw away here lies Chi Lin Nunnery, a serene and scenic site.

Related Posts: Hong Kong-Pearl of the Orient

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Prambanan Temple

The Prambanan Temple
Our plane finally touched down on the Adisucipto International Airport. It had been hovering in the sky for almost half an hour before being given the clearance to land. It was a small airport and we had to wait a while before clearing the custom.
Young Students
Our driver Yanto was waiting for us at the Arrival gate. I identified him by the big board he was holding with my name "Paulo" prominently written on it. Yanto spoke in halted English but luckily I was able to comprehend most of the things he said. We spotted many adorable young local students at the airport while waiting for Yanto to fetch his car. I could not resist snapping photos of these big eyes and shy looking kids.
The Prambanan Complex
Inside his six seater car, Yanto asked if we would like to change our plan and visit the Prambanan Temple first. My original plan was to head straight down to Borobudur Temple. After talking to his boss Ukhi on the mobile phone and understood from him that the Prambanan Temple was only half an hour from the airport, I agreed to the change of plan.

The Prambanan Temple Compound is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of Prambanan, Sewu, Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu. Except Asu, the rest are situated in the complex. Prambanan Temple is it's star attraction followed by Sewu Temple. Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu are still in ruins and have nothing much to offer.
Signs at Prambanan
The Prambanan Temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva, a Hindu god. There were actually 240 temples in the beginning but nearly all were destroyed in a massive earthquake. Only six of the main temples were fully restored and the rest are still work in progress. One could only imagine how massive the temple complex was during it's heyday. For extensive info on Prambanan Temple, please refer to this site.
The Imposing Shrines
We paid the foreigner entrance fee (adult: IDR 207 000) and went into the temple ground. Not surprising, we went straight to the Prambanan Temple first. Despite seeing the temple umpteen times in the internet, I was still beheld of the monstrous size of these ancient constructions. To say that we looked like ants when compared to the temples was no mere exaggeration. The tallest and biggest temple in the center was obviously dedicated to Lord Shiva the Creator. The two temples flanking it were dedicated to Brahma the Keeper and Vishnu the Destroyer. These three main shrines formed the "Trimurti" (three forms). The three other smaller temples were dedicated to the "Vahana"(vehicle) of the gods-Nandi (Shiva's bull), Hamsa (Brahma's swan) and Garuda (Vishnu's eagle). All were dwarfed by the presence of Shiva's 47 meter tall buidling.
The Shiva Temple towered above the rest
The design of the temples shared these similarities. They were divided into three realms. The lowest realms-Bhurloka depicted mere mortals who were still tempted by earthly desires and lusts. The outer courtyard and base of the temples represented this most unholy realm. The middle realm-Bhuvarloka represented those who had seen the light of truth, resided at the middle courtyard and the body of the temple. The holiest realm-Svarloka was for only for the gods and resided at the roof and top of the temples. The architecture reminded me of the the Angkor temples in Siem Reap. They were designed to be Meru-the holy mountain of the Gods.

Top View of the Complex
Guardian of the Temple
Entrance to the Gallery
View from another angle
The temples are adorned with life like panels of bas-reliefs narrating the stories of Hindu epic. They could be attained by climbing a set of steep steps to the gallery behind the balustrades walls. It would also lead you to a dark chamber which housed a statue of the god it symbolized. One would need to start from the east entrance and walked clockwise along the gallery to follow the sequence of the narration. Sadly, just like what I have witnessed at temples of Siem Reap, many of the statues' heads were missing. They were being stolen which can fetch high price from private collectors.

Statue of Shiva
We spent a couple of hours at the Prambanan Temple before proceeding to Sewu Temple. Along the way, we passed by Lumbung and Bubrah. As mentioned before, they were still in the state of ruins. Sewu temple was in a much better state and we could see the familiar guardian statues guarding the front gate of the temple. Due to time constraint, we did not explore much of this site. On our way back to the front entrance, we saw a deer park in the vicinity.

Sewu Temple
Deer Park
Family Photo at Prambanan
Fun Photo
We met Yanto at the carpark after navigating through a complex of souvenirs shops. I told him to bring us for lunch and then proceeded to our main destination-The Borobudur Temple.

Prambanan Complex Map

Tips when visiting Prambanan Temple:

1. It gets very hot in the noon. Come in the early morning or late noon if possible.

2. Bring lots of water. Wear comfortably and bring a hat.

3. A sarong is needed to wear around your waist but not strictly enforce. You can get it free near the ticket booth after paying the entrance fee.

4. The complex is very big. The walk from Prambanan to Sewu is around 1 km and takes around 20 mins walk. There are free tram rides offer which takes you around but the frequency is not very high.

5. Lumbung and Bubrah temples can be taken out of your plan if you are deprived of time.

6. Read up before visiting. Otherwise, the temples are just like big rocks and stones to you and can get very boring. A guide will be helpful.

7. There are licensed photographers in the complex which can take good photographs of you and the temples. Ensure you ask and negotiate the price before engaging their services.

8. Candi means Temple in Yogyakarta and Central Java.

9. I use yogyadriver for my trip around Yogyakarta. Write a comment and drop your email address (I will reply you) at the comment column below to enjoy up to 10% discount off the normal rate if you decide to use their service.

Have you been to Prambanan? Share your tips here!

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Patrol Van at Prambanan
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