Monday, June 19, 2017

Ruins and restorations at Candi Plaosan

It's going to take a lot of work before the reconstruction of 
Candi Plaosan approaches anything close to completion...
Still, there's enough on site as it is to give 
a sense of what was and could be again...

...and even if nothing else, the sheer size of it (and do please click 
on the photo to view an enlarged version) can take the breath away!
Within walking distance of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Prambanan temple compounds -- and viewable from some sections of it -- lies an ancient temple complex whose construction preceded that 10th century monument by a century or so.  There are hopes that in time, the large temple group collectively known as Candi Plaosan will join Prambanan, Borobudur and six other Indonesian sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.       
Before that can happen however, a huge amount of work is required from archaeologists, conservators and associated others, since the vast majority of the stone structures on this approximately 2,000 square meter site currently lie in a majorly ruined state.  To give a sense of the size and scale of the task at hand: while Plaosan's towering twin temples have been restored, almost all of the ancient complex's 174 ancillary temples, 116 stupas and 58 shrines have not.
Consequently, when walking around the site, one feels more like one is at a working archaeological site, with large piles of stones waiting to be examined and be used to re-assemble a particular structure, than an actual monument whose glory and beauty -- like in the case of Borobudur -- can be easily appreciated.  Adding to that sense is there appearing to be more archaeology teams in the area than tourists (even though entry to the site is free) -- and I also wouldn't be surprised if my German friend and I were the only non-Indonesian visitors to the Plaosan complex that day (and maybe even week).
Almost needless to say, this is the kind of place where it helps to be able to imagine what the temple complex used to look like (and could look like again some time in the future), and also to know interesting details about it: such as that Plaosan was built during the reign of a Hindu ruler (Rakai Pikatan) whose queen (Sri Kahulunnan, AKA Pramodhawardhani) was of the Buddhist faith; and that Hindu-Buddhist union is reflected in this particular temple complex containing and combining Hindu and Buddhist religious iconography, statuary and architecture.
Remarkably, Pramodhawardhani also has been credited with the inauguration of Borobudur along with Plaosan and some other temples located on the Prambanan Plain that I didn't have time to visit on this maiden Indonesian visit!  Meanwhile, to her husband Rakai Pikatan goes the credit for having initiated work on what would turn out to be the even more magnificent Prambanan temple complex (whose statue of the Hindu goddess Durga is said to have been modelled on Rakai Pikatan's (Buddhist) consort)!     

No comments: