This was my second trip to Indonesia in as many years. The focus on this trip was Prambanan, a Hindu temple located just outside of Yogyakarta. Much like some of the other amazing temples in Indonesia, this place is VERY busy. Interestingly, foreign tourism isn’t popular at this site; Locals outnumber foreigners 8:1.
Prambanan Damage throughout the years
Indonesia is home to some of the world’s most deadly and active volcanoes. Prambanan sits in the shadows of Merapi, an active and deadly volcano that has destroyed many cultural icons in Central Java and Yogyakarta.
Earthquakes in the region are mainly caused by the movement of magma (lava) under the earth’s surface from Merapi or the friction (and subsequent release) of the Indo-Australian techtonic plate subducting under the Eurasian plate. In non-nerd terms, Pramabanan is in danger of being destroyed by earth’s natural forces.
The geologic instability has definitely taken a toll on Prambanan. Originally 240 stone temples were constructed, sadly on 18 survive today. The 2006 earthquake severely damaged the temple, which caused the closing of it. It took many weeks of repairs and structural assessments before it could be reopened to the public.
Watch the sun set
There is nothing more spectacular than watching the sun slowly set in the west, casting long shadows and warm orange light on the back of the temples. Bring a good camera and you’ll be able to snap pictures that your friends will be jealous of. Be mindful of the time. The temple area closes at 19:00 (7:00pm) and they will promptly ask you to leave.
Once the sun sets, visit the Ramayana Ballet Open Air Theatre to see one of the most amazing performances of the epic saga of Ramayana. This show combines dance and drama without dialog; It it set to music orchestrated in the background of the stage.
Quick note on the theatre...
There are NO bad seats. It is staium style seating and no matter where you sit, you have an amazing view of the performance.
The Ballet is separate from the entrance fee to Prambanan and lasts just over 2 hours. Watching this left me struggling to find words to accurately describe it. Prambanan and the ballet were some of the most beautiful and culturally rich sites that I have visited in Indonesia and strongly recommend you visit them both.