Photo: Climbing Bukit Sikunir.

Introduction

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Within a cool and misty high volcanic plateau, Dieng’s ethereal landscape with gurgling mud pools, hissing sulphuric vents and enigmatic ancient Hindu temples conjures a mystical atmosphere and it’s not difficult to imagine why this locale was chosen as an auspicious sacred site.



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Home to Indonesia’s oldest existing religious structures, the Dieng Plateau perches some 2,000 metres above sea level in Central Java dominated by Gunung Prau (2,600 metres) and Gunung Sindoro (3,150 metres), 100 kilometres southwest of Semarang and slightly further northwest of Yogyakarta. The nearest town of any significance is Wonosobo, 30 kilometres south.

Why not? Photo taken in or around Dieng Plateau, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Why not? Photo: Sally Arnold

Winding up the hill from Wonosobo, a spectacular patchwork of verdant crops cling as far up the slopes as is possible to farm and surround the marshy caldera. Peppering this mist-swirled sodden realm are clusters of small squat stone structures. The temples themselves, though historically significant, will likely underwhelm the casual visitor and it’s more the dramatic setting and beautiful scenery that make this area worth the journey.

Dieng’s temples were built in an era of intense Hindu activity in Indonesia between the eight and ninth centuries, in a similar period to the Gedong Songo temples 80 kilometres to the east. While they are believed to have originally numbered in excess of 400 temples, only eight remain today. Although much is yet to be understood, the region is considered to be the cradle of Shivite and Ganesh cults in Central Java, but likely was an important ancestor worship site prior to the arrival of Hinduism as is suggested by Dieng’s name, derived from ancient Kawi “Di-Hyang”, “Di” meaning “abode” and “Hyang” an honorific for divine or ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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