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Sewu Temple


Sewu temple

Sewu temple is the second largest Buddhist temple in Central Java after Borobudur and one of the best pieces of ancient Javanese architecture in the world, is an 8th-century Buddhist temple located 800 meters north of Prambanan. Sewu temple or Candi Sewu predates "Loro Jonggrang".

The name “Sewu” (from Javanese word, means thousand) indicates that there are many shrines included in the Sewu Temple compound, although their number does not reach a thousand. Even though Sewu Temple complex doesn’t include 1000 temples - as the legend says - it is absolutely huge. There are a total of 257 buildings in the complex, arranged in rows surrounding the main temple. This arrangement is known as a “Mandala pattern” - an expression of how Mahayana Buddhism views the universe. The main temple is located at the center, surrounded on its four sides by flanking shrines and ancillary shrines in symmetrical arrangement. This temple was probably built in 8th century by Rakai Panangkaran (746-784 AD) and Rakai Pikatan, the kings of Mataram Kingdom. Mataram was under the influence of Syailendra family, who were Buddhist. Scholars estimate that Sewu Temple was the center of religious activities of Buddhist people. The assumption is founded on the content of andesite stone inscription discovered in one of the ancillary temples. The sculpture, known to be Manjusrigita, is written in Ancient Malay dated in the Javanese year of 792. The stone inscription describes prasada purification rituals called Wajrasana Manjusrigrha in the Javanese year of 714 (792 AD). Manjusri is also mentioned in Kelurak stone inscription of 782 AD, discovered near Lumbung temple.

Today, Sewu temple is somewhat overshadowed by the nearby Prambanan , but Candi Sewu is definitely one of the most interesting Javanese temples around.