Java (Jawa) is an island of Indonesia and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. Once the center of powerful Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies, Java now plays a dominant role in the economic and political life of Indonesia. Home to a population of 130 million in 2006, it is the most populous island in the world. Java is also one of the most densely populated regions on Earth.
The Sukuh temple (Candi Sukuh) is just a small temple in comparison to the well-known Borobudur and Prambanan complexes in Central Java. Sir Thomas Raffles discovered the Sukuh temple in 1815 but only recently the temple is seen as worth a visit because of it's antiquated and unique characteristics.
The Sukuh temple is located in the village of Sukuh, at some 35 kilometers east of Surakarta in Central Java. The Javanese Hindu temple is located at an altitude of 910 meters above sea-level on the foothills of the Mount Lawu volcano.
Some archeologists assume that the temple was built in the 15th century, most likely at the end of the Majapahit empire (between 1293 and 1500 CE). One of the reliefs on the temple walls is depicting a giant eating a human being.
The relief is carved into a wall near the northern entrance and is most likely depicting Gapura Buta Mangan Wong. It is an inscription representing the year 1359 in the Saka calender (the Javanese Calender) or 1437 CE. That is currently assumed to be the year of the construction of the temple.
To reach this temple, you can take the main road from Surakarta in the direction of Tawangmangu, which is a famous tourist destination on the slopes of the Mount Lawu volcano. There are clear signs pointing you in the right direction. You only should be aware of the state of your vehicle, as the road near the temple is rather steep.
The Sukuh temple has three concentric terraces which are connected by small alleys. The main temple is situated at the last terrace. Unlike Hindu and Buddhist temples, which have square shrines, this temple has a trapezium shape, which is similar to temples made by the Maya civilization in Central America.
The uniqueness of the Sukuh temple lies in its landscaping, the oddly carved statues and reliefs. The temple has once been named 'unrefined' and it was then suggested that the temple might have been built in the time that there was civil war between Islamic and Hindu communities.
Location map of Sukuh Temple
Last revised on October 18, 2009
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