Thursday, June 1, 2017

The ancient Buddhist temple known as Candi Mendut (and also Venu Vana Mandira)

A statue of Buddha seated, unusually, in 
the "Western style", with both feet on the ground
(or, more accurately, a lotus leaf)...
 ...can be found inside Candi Mendut, situated on a 
straight line some 3.5 kilometers away from Borobudur
 This ancient Buddhis temple is also home to
impressively elaborate carved reliefs like this...

...and this which are stylistically related to those
at the main (and far larger) Borobudur temple
It's all relative.  Yes, Candi Mendut is far smaller than Borobudur.  But it's also bigger and more visually impressive than Candi Pawon; not least, unlike that even smaller temple that's part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Borobudur temple complex, there are three-meter-high stone statues to be found within its inner space -- and that of the Buddha is actually pretty unique in that it depicts that holy figure seated in what has been termed the "Western" style rather than in the "lotus position" as per usual.
In addition, Candi Mendut is thought to be the oldest of the three temples situated on the same straight axis.  Estimated to have been built in the early part of the 9th century AD, this ancient temple is thought to have served for a time as the first stop along a pilgrimage route that led to Borobudur.  Also known as Venu Vana Mandira (Temple in the Bamboo Grove), this temple currently lies on well-manicured grounds in which can be found a centuries-old banyan tree, and near which can be found what must be a rare functioning Buddhist monastery in a majority Muslim country.
While its architecture visually resembles Candi Pawon far more than Borobudur, the beautifully detailed carved reliefs on its walls call to mind those at Borobudur as well as Candi Pawon.  Even the untrained eye must recognize the stylistic similarities between these three ancient Buddhist temples and conclude that they not only were built in the same era but also for related purposes.
Again, as with Candi Pawon, this ancient monument is not one that many people would travel for miles to see and many of the visitors to the main Borobudur temple will not think to stop and check it out, particularly since so many of them are pushed for time as it is.  Once more though, I'm glad that I did spend some time at the site, even if the time spent there was not even one twentieth the amount of time that I spent at the conclusively larger main Borobudur temple!
At the very least, the three statues located in Candi Mendut's inner chamber (of the Buddha and two flanking Boddhistvas) are impressive to behold and also actually pretty unusual.  Actually, the stone chamber is also quite the remarkable sight but I also totally understood where my German friend was coming from when she remarked that the stone walls didn't look super stable and she most certainly didn't want to be in there should an earthquake strike (in this part of the world which actually is part of the Ring of Fire where many active volcanoes are to be found and seismic activity regularly occurs)!  ;b


peppylady (Dora) said...

I've been to one Buddhist service once...Coffee is on

Paul said...

Wow this is impressive! While everyone tells me Borobudur is impressive, this kind of hidden gem is really the most charming of all. Sounds like the two of you had an awesome time!

YTSL said...

Hi peppylady --

I've not been to many Buddhist services either -- and my mother's a practicing Buddhist! The thing with Buddhism is that people more frequently just go to temples to pray whenever they like rather than for something led by a priest or such! :)

Hi Paul --

We did have an awesome time... but I wonder whether you'll change your mind re what's most charming of all after you see my Borobudur photos! ;)