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Candi Sewu (Sewu temple) in 360°
Candi Sewu is the second largest Buddhist Temple in Central Java after Borobudur. The temple complex follows the Mandala pattern with the main entrance located on the east side. Each of the entrances were guarded by twin Dvarapala statues.
Candi Sewu is located within the area of the Prambanan temple complex, around 800 meters north of it. The proximity of the Hindu temples of Prambanan suggests that Hindus and Buddhist lived in harmony when the temples were built. The easiest and fastest way to get to the temple is by the Prambanan temple train.
1. What to see
The name of Candi Sewu means 1000 temples, but in fact only around 249 temples were erected here during the 8th century. It is likely that the temple was built at the end of the reign of Rakai Panangkaran, a famous King from the Medang Kingdom. It was expanded and completed during Rakai Pikatan's rule. The temple was originally probably called Manjusrigrha (the house of Manjusri, a Bodhisattva in Buddhist teachings).
The temple was severely damaged during the earthquake in Java in 2006. The central temple suffered the worst, metal frame structures were erected on four corners to prevent its collapse. The layout of the main temple follows a cross-shaped 20 corners polygon resembling the 12 corners polygon layout of Candi Kalasan. Its interior contains four chambers at each of the cardinal points of the cross.
The walkway from the eastern chamber leads to the central one. The lotus carved stone padestal in central chamber suggested that the temple once contains a large bronze Buddhist statue (possible the bronze statue of Manjusri), probably reaching 4 meters tall.
2. When to see
Prambanan Temple complex containing Candi Sewu is open daily 7am-6pm. Please note that the last train to Sewu leaves at 4:30pm.
4. How to get there
If travelling on a package tour to Java, it might contain a few temples that are close to world-famous Prambanan temples.
If staying on the island of Bali, you can consider to take a one-day Yogyakarta guided trip. These trips usually include the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples along with the sights of Yogyakarta. You'll arrive at the airport of Denpasar very early in the morning, fly to Yogyakarta with a local Indonesia flight (Lion Air / Garuda), enjoy the above mentioned monuments and finally get back to your hotel in Bali in the evening. It is important to know that you have to purchase the airplane tickets in advance, but it might be difficult, since Indonesian air flights only accept VISA cards issued in a few countries. Lion Air simply doesn't accept any European or US card, Garuda only accepts cards issued in Western Europe. If you are lucky, you can purchase your tickets in cash a few days before your excursion in a nearby country like Singapore.
It is not recommended to drive on your own in Indonesia due to the general negligance of driving rules. Singposts are written with Latin alphabet, but it might be difficult to find remote places on your own. The best solution is to rent a car with a driver for an entire day.
5. Where to stay
There are hotels in nearby Yogyakarta for every budget: from backpackers to luxuary 5* hotels.