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Home » Dieng Plateau » Restoring the precious 8th Century Dieng Temples

Restoring the precious 8th Century Dieng Temples

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Overview

Since August 2012 when archaelogists discovered a gaping hole of 2 meters underneath the temple of Bima, the temple has been cordoned off for restoration.  

Bima is one of eight small temples in the Arjuna temple complex that dot the surreal landscape of the Dieng Plateau in Central Java, located some 2,093 meters above sea level. Built between 750 AD to 809 AD , the Dieng temples are the oldest temples found on Java, and perhaps the first Indian influenced stone temple construction in Indonesia.  Believed to originally consisting of no less than 400 temples, today only 8 are intact.  

The Dieng temples are known to have been built for the worship of the Hindu God Shiva, as can be seen in a rare relief on the Srikandi temple of the Hindu Trinity God : Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  To the Hindu community at the time, Dieng was holy ground, the abode of the gods.

Not all temples were used for devotion, however. The temple of Semar, for example, was used to store religious artefact.

Today , The temple of Bima is threatened with crumbling into a large hole, since already now the temple is  sagging to its west side.   

Before restoring, however, the entire temple must first be disassembled stone by stone to allow the strengthening of its foundation.  At point of writing, the upper structure has been taken down and carefully laid on the ground surrounding Bima.   

According to archaeologist Gutomo, the temples were built in a dead volcanic crater where below the land surface was water. Since these temples are made of pyroclastic stones, and are not porous, through which water can evaporate, the constant rains have weakened the thin layer of earth surface on which they are built, which eroded, bringing down part of the temple with it.

According to experts, the Bima temple is unique because of its layered roof structure which still shows strong Indian architectural features. Similar constructions are found at the nearby Candi Arjuna and Candi Semar. Candi Arjuna for instance is said to be similar to a temple in South India called Wimana, while the Semar temple may have been a copy of the Mandapa, a temple for pilgrims and festivals.

Whereas the other temples or Candi’s, as at the temples of Srikandi, Puntadewa, and Dwarawati, on the other hand,  these show distinct local culture as can be seen In its recesses and pointed towers.  

The names of these temples or Candi’s in Dieng have been given to them by the local community in much later centuries, and they refer to the names of gods from the epic poem Bharata Yudha, which on Java has been translated and popularized through Java’s famed shadow puppets.  

Meanwhile, during restoration, the Bima temple is closed to tourists, but all other temples in the Dieng plateau can still be visited.

(Source: Kompas daily, Wikipedia)

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