Candi Gedong Songo

Candi Gedong Songo

Ancient Hindu temples, atmospheric setting

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Candi Gedong Songo is among Java’s oldest antiquities, a complex of seven small Hindu temples dating from the eighth or ninth centuries (plus several more in ruins).

Travelfish says:
Very popular for group photos. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Very popular for group photos. Photo: Sally Arnold

Gedong Songo literally translates from Javanese as “nine buildings”, not the original name nor numerological accurate, nine is considered an auspicious number in Javanese culture, perhaps stemming from the nine virtues of Buddhism, or Java’s wali songo, nine Islamic saints (Ramadan also falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar).

Restoration works were commenced in the Dutch colonial period with ongoing projects by the Indonesian government in the 1980s and again in 2009. The reconstructed temples sit on five plateaus within the hilly landscape, signposted Candi Gunung I to V, around a looping two-and-a-half kilometre hillside path. Although the site is magnificent, we were shocked and disappointed to see much graffiti carved into the stonework of the temples, such a shameful disrespect of Indonesia’s heritage.

The views are often as impressive as the monuments. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
The views are often as impressive as the monuments. Photo: Sally Arnold

From the main gate, Candi Gedung I is about 250 metres along the path. This simple square structure, the earliest of the group, is constructed with a triple-stepped roof representing simultaneously Mount Meru, the holy Hindu mountain and the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Trimurti), typical of Hindu architecture of the time. Decorated with minimal floral relief, an open-mouthed Kala face grimaces over the top of the doorway. Note also, the carved figure on the stairs whose long curling tongue forms the ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 800 words.)

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Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

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