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June 3, 2015

Ancient Wonders

Tom McLaughlin

South Java – After the incredible two day experience at Borobudur, we were told not to expect much at Candi Parambanan, a Hindu temple also built in about the same date range of 7-10 A.D. We debated about going but in the ended took a car to visit this "minor" site.

We travelled south, paid the fee for another U.N. World Heritage site, and were stunned to see five pointed towers in all their magnificent glory. They, too, were subject to the earthquakes and volcano eruptions which levelled them to a pile of rubble over the years since their abandonment.

The towers (Google Parambanan) were made from the same volcanic stone and were also of a black colour. They were as tall as a 12-story building, maybe taller. Being Hindu, they contained not the reclining Buddha but several of the gods most of us are familiar with today.

There was ramp which inclined into each of the temples with a deity inside. I climbed into each one and saw an elephant sucking knowledge through its trunk, a water boat-like structure and a guy with three (or was it four?) faces.  All of them were exquisitely carved and seemed to be in good condition.

My favourite was the girl in the middle candi with the other towers at each of the corners. She was really sexy and dressed in a very revealing sarong. She had four hands and I could just imagine what those hands could do in a massage setting. Her name was Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. She looked nothing like the images from Google, but rather like a 16 year old with hip huggers just below the hip bone – and very thin. Those Indonesians really know how to make a girl look interesting, if you catch my drift.

After touring the other temples, not an easy feat, we went to the outskirts and looked at stones in piles. The temples were still in the process of ongoing restoration and they were trying to put the pieces (or stones) together. How they managed to sort out which stone went where and how to rebuild the outer temples was an architectural feat in itself. I could not make any sense of it.

We were looking, specifically, for any writing on the stones but there were just too many of them to see anything but the outer edges. We were hoping to find some Old Javanese writing that would tell us something about the structures, but, alas, just carved images and smooth (well as smooth as lava stone could get) sided lava stone.

Suriani and I made it a point to compare the Buddhist style at Borobudur and the Hindu architecture at Parambanan. The construction of the temples (for lack of a better word) were the same, both were made from the same volcanic rock. However, the gods, one for Buddha and several for Hindu made the task challenging. Except for Vishnu, of course.

I don't know what made the rulers of this exquisite time period build these huge structures. They had to know about each other’s construction as there are rivers which connect all of the temples.

It’s time to think and wonder about these treasures of the ancient world.

...Life is good. . . . .


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