Introduction

The spectacular temples of Prambanan, set in the plains of Central Java, are the best surviving examples of Java’s extended period of Hindu culture. With nearby Borobudur, they are one of the top highlights of Southeast Asia.

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.

The two dynasties were united by the marriage of Hindu Rakai Pikatan 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 Prambanan 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.