Elephants No. 15 and 16: Prambanan, Indonesia 

 

I found both of these elephants in the Hindu temple compound of Prambanan, near Yogyakarta in Central Java. Prambanan was built in the 9th century AD, when Java was heavily influenced by India: both Hinduism and Buddhism arrived in the area in this period from India. Unfortunately the temples have been quite damaged by recent earthquakes, though reconstruction work is currently underway – but I very much enjoyed my visit there, following a trip to the amazing Buddhist temple of Borobudur that morning at dawn. At Prambanan, I was given an enthusiastic free tour around the temples by two 17 year old Indonesian school girls who were studying tourism at high school, part of which included a month’s stay in Prambanan, showing tourists around and practising their English. 

 
The first elephant (you must look closely) is a wise-looking onlooker to part of the Ramayana, the Indian epic tale of Rama and Sita, which is depicted in friezes inside the temple to Shiva. The second is the god Ganesha, whose trunk has been worn smooth by years of people touching it for good luck. There are very few practising Hindus left in Java (there are apparently many more in the neighbouring island of Bali), so the temple has not in fact been used for Hindu worship for a long time, but I still saw many visitors eager not to miss out on the possible good fortune by omitting to stroke his trunk!

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3 comments

    1. I have been to India but unfortunately it was before I started this blog so I didn’t manage to “collect” any elephants there for it – though I did see a lot! But I hope to return one day – I went to Rajasthan so I would like to visit a different area 🙂

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