Jaw-dropping and mystical, the spectacular temples of Prambanan, set in the plains, are the best remaining examples of Java’s extended period of Hindu culture and are an absolute must.
All the temples in the Prambanan area were built between the 8th and 10th centuries AD, when Java was ruled by the Buddhist Sailendras in the south and the Hindu Sanjayas of Old Mataram in the north. Possibly by the second half of the 9th century, these two dynasties were united by the marriage of Rakai Pikatan of Hindu Mataram and the Buddhist Sailendra princess Pramodhavardhani. This may explain why a number of temples, including those of the Prambanan temple complex and the smaller Plaosan group, reveal both Shivaite and Buddhist elements in architecture and sculpture. But this is a Hindu site first and foremost, and the wealth of sculptural detail on the great Shiva temple here is the nation's most outstanding example of Hindu art.