Candi Penataran

high-definition creative commons photographs from Candi Penataran, a Hindu temple complex in East Java with many fine reliefs, together with further information.


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Candi Penataran

One of the finest examples of Hindu architecture in Java, Candi Penataran is located around 10km north of Blitar in the low foothills of Mount Kelud.

From an inscription in the grounds it appears it was first founded in 1194 by King Srengga, who ruled duing the Kediri Period. It also mentions that the temple was visited by King Hayum Wuruk who ruled a few centuries later, between 1350 and 1389 CE.

The temple is again mentioned in 15th century Sundanese chronicles as a place of learning. The temple seems to have been in continuous development then from the 12th to the 15th centuries, when the Majapahit kingdom fell.

It is laid out in three walled courts, with the entrance at the north-west, and the main temple at the south-east.

1. Forecourt

The forecourt has a number of foundational remains, and includes one remarkable set of reliefs of Javanese folk stories. The entrance is guarded by a pair of dwarapalas before a small staircase, which leads into the complex proper.

On the left of the entrance is Bale Agung, which is notable for having a nāga sculpture running round the whole building, but only the foundation remains.



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Pendopo and Reliefs

In the middle of the forecourt there is a pendopo, which it has been suggested, may have been used for sacrificial offerings, before entering deeper into the complex. Only the foundation remains, but it has a remarkable set of reliefs running round the building, which illustrate the Javanese folk stories of Bubhuksah and Akagang Gagang on the south and east sides; and starting at the west and running south is the story of Sri Tanjung, a faithful wife wrongly accused of adultery.

Story of Bubhuksah and Akagang Gagang

Story of Sri Tanjung

Candra Sengkala (Ganesh Temple)

This temple, which is at the southernmost point of the forecourt, is dated to 1291 Saka Era (1369 CE), and is often used as the symbol for the whole complex. It is also known as the Brawijaya Temple. The entrance to the sanctum, where sits the Ganesha statue, is facing north-west. On the other sides there are false doorways, and above each is a kāla head protecting the entrance. Outside there is a statue of Gayatri Rajapatni standing on a lotus on one side, and an unidentified figure on the other side.

2. Middle Court

Nāga Temple

The temple is so-called from the large intertwining nāga that runs round the temple, and which is being held up by the kings portrayed on each side. The foundation measures approx. 5m x 6.5m and stretches to a present height of 5m, though it appears the topmost floor is now missing. There are medallions on each side of the temple, except the front.

3. Innermost Court

The innermost court contains the main temple in the complex, still in fairly good condition, though the top floor is on the ground to the left of the temple, and only partly reconstructed. There is a statue of Bhairawa in front of the temple, and dwarapalas guard the two staircases which lead to the terrace.

Around the base of the temple are alternating reliefs and medallions. The reliefs illustrate the Rāmāyana story, while the medallions show animals. On the first terrace there are reliefs telling the Krishnāyana story. Both sets of reliefs are distinctive as being influenced by the representations in the wayang puppetry. Only the base of the 3rd level is in place, and has some fine representations of the winged lion motif. The rest of the building is in a partly reconstructed state to the north of the temple.

Rāmāyaṇa Reliefs


Kṛṣṇayaṇa Reliefs

Temple Inscription and other Buildings


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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