Candi Sari, in the Prambanan Plain near Yogyakarta

high-definition creative commons photographs from Candi Sari, near Prambanan, Java, showing the architecture and the statues, together with further information on the Candi.


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Candi Sari


Candi Sari (also known as Candi Bendah), is an 8th century Buddhist temple located at Dusun hamlet near Bendan, Tirtomartani village, Kalasan, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta. It is located about 130 meters north east from Kalasan temple. The temple was a two story building with wooden beams, floors, stairs completed with windows and doors; all from organic materials which now are decayed and gone. It is suggested that the original function of this building was a vihara, or dwelling place for monks. The temple's name Sari translates as "to sleep" in Javanese, which also confirms the habitation nature of the building.

Historians suggested that the temple was built around the same time as the Kalasan temple. The Kalasan Inscription dated 778 AD, in Pranagari script written in Sanskrit, mentions that the family who built Kalasan also build a vihara (monastery) for Buddhist monks from Sailendra family's realm. Panangkaran awarded the Kalara village to the Sangha. Based on this inscription, Candi Sari was probably the monastery for monks who served the nearby Kalasan temple.

The ruins were discovered in early 20's, and in 1929, an effort to reconstruct the temple began and was finished in 1930. However it was incomplete because many parts are missing including the outer base that surrounds the temple, and the extended front room and front stairs that once projected from the east wall of the temple.


The temple consisst of three parts; the base, the body, and the roof. The temple has a rectangular plan being 17.30 meters north-south, and 10 meters west-east, and soaring 17 meters in height. Only some parts of the base remain, the outer base stoneblocks are missing. The entrance door is located at the eastern side with a gate adorned with a Kala and elephant carving. The windows surround the walls and consist of lower and upper rows, also there is also a horizontal middle "belt" line around the wall, suggesting that it was a two story building.

The interior consists of three rooms; north room, central room, and south room, each measures 3m x 5.8 m. These three rooms are connected with doorways on the eastern side of the room allong the north-south axis. On the wall of each room are found rows of extruding stone blocks which used to support wooden beams and the wooden ceiling separating the upper and lower floors. In some places there are diagonal stones which is probably the place where there used to be a wooden stairway.

The upper level was probably used by monks for meditation or worship. Some suggest the upper rooms were used as the place for monks to stay, rest, or sleep, while the lower rooms was the place for worship. In the lower rooms there are some elevated parts where statues once inhabited the inner sanctuary were placed, but now the statues are gone. On side walls are found niches, probably to place oil lamps. In the inner part of each window there are holes to install wooden window bars.

These rooms were topped with three horse-shoe arched niches adorned with Kala-makaras and crowned with three rows of stupas. Between these arched niches are found rain-water drainage and "jaladwara" water spouts taking the form of a giant sitting on a snake.

The outer wall is richly decorated with Buddhist deities. External decoration include Tara with flowers and Bodhisattvas with musical instruments. These figures are arranged in two upper and lower rows and placed on each side of the windows and consist of 36 figures of Boddhisattvas and Taras; 8 on the east, north and south sides, and 12 on the west side.

These Buddhist figures are usually found holding red or blue lotuses with graceful resting posture known as "tribhangga" with peaceful and serene facial expressions. The images of Kinnara and Kinnari also adorn the walls. However unlike the common image of Kinnara as heavenly creature with upper part of human and lower part of bird, the unusual image of kinnara found on the northern wall, is depicted as a winged deity similar to common depiction of angels.

On the outer wall of the temple are found the traces of plaster called vajralepa (lit: diamond plaster). The same substance is also found in the nearby Kalasan temple. The white-yellowish plaster was applied to protect the temple wall, but now the plaster has worn off.

Text adapted from Wikipedia, (retrieved, March 9th 2012)


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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