The Dieng Plateau

Posted on February 17, 2018
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The Dieng Plateau
Dieng Temple is a group of temples located on Dieng Plateau in Wonosobo, Central Java. The vicinity is 2000 meters above sea level, extending around 1900 meters long and 800 meters wide from north to south.

This group of Shiva temples is estimated to be built late in the 8th century until early in the 9th century, and becomes the oldest temples in Java. No written information has been discovered until today concerning the history of Dieng Temple, although scholars consider that these temples were built by kings of Sanjaya dynasty. A stone inscription dated 808 AD, which is the oldest inscription written in ancient Javanese, was discovered in Dieng area. A statue of Shiva found in the area is now kept in the National Museum in Jakarta. Dieng Temple was probably built in two phases. The first phase lasted between late in the 7th century and the first quarter of the 8th century, which comprised the construction of Arjuna, Semar, Srikandi and Gatutkaca temples. The second phase was to continue the first one, lasting until around 780 AD.

Dieng Temple was rediscovered in 1814, when an English soldier was on vacation to Dieng and saw a cluster of temples submerged in lake water. In 1956, Van Kinsbergen organized an effort to drain the lake in which the temples compound was situated. The Dutch government continued the work in 1864, while Van Kinsbergen documented the temples and took the picture of them.

The overall site of Dieng Temple group occupies an area as wide as 1.8 x 0.8 km. Temples in this group are categorized in three compounds and one individual temple named after characters (wayang) from the Mahabharata. The three compounds are Arjuna, Gatutkaca, and Dwarawati, while the individual temple is Bima.[/vc_column_text]

Entrance Fee
Kawasan Garung IDR 10.000 ( Indonesian people or foreign )
Candi Arjuna IDR 7.500 / 15.000 ( Indonesian people / Foreign )
Kawah Sikidang IDR 7.500 / 15.000 ( Indonesian people / Foreign )
Museum Kailasa IDR 5.000 ( Indonesian people or foreign )
Telaga Warna dan Pengilon IDR 8.500 / 150.000 ( Indonesian people / Foreign )
Update Feb 2018

Photo: tripadvisor.com

Arjuna compound is located in the middle of Dieng Temple area, comprising 4 temples in a row from north to south. Arjuna is in the southernmost of the four, followed by Srikandi, Sembadra and Puntadewa temples. Right in front of Arjuna, there is another temple called Semar. The four temples in this compound face west, except Semar that faces Arjuna Temple. This compound is in the most intact condition compared to the other compounds in Dieng.

Arjuna Temple. This temple resembles temples in Gedong Songo complexes, and is laid out on 4 m2 square plan. The temple’s body stands on a 1 meter high base. On the west side, there is a stairway to access the door into the temple’s small interior. The door has a corbelled roof, projecting around 1 meter from the temple’s body, while a high-relief sculpture of Kalamakara in is attached to its upper frame.

The temple’s north, south, and west walls are adorned with slightly projecting stone arrangement that forms a framed recess to place a statue. Each frame is tiled with patterned pieces of flat stone. The lower frame is decorated with a pair of dragon heads with open mouth.

A water channel (jaladwara) is placed right under the recess. Above the frame, there is a sculpture of Kalamakara without its lower jaw. In each of the left and right sides of the north door, there is a niche to place a statue. Today there are no statues in the two niches.

The temple’s roof comprises layered cubes in ever-decreasing size to the top. The roof’s top has already crumbled. Each corner of the cubes has a recess and ornaments in the shape that looks like a crown with pointed top. Most of the ornaments are in damaged condition.

In the middle of temple’s interior, there is a carved stone that looks like a yoni. A damaged statue is attached to the outer corner of the temple’s rear part.

Semar Temple. This rectangular temple is situated right in front of Arjuna temple. The temple’s plain base is around 50 cm high. Stairs to access the temple’s interior is placed on the east side. The door has no corbelled roof. The doorframe is tiled with patterned pieces of flat stone and a dragon head on its lower end. Above the frame, there is a high-relief sculpture of Kalamakara without its lower jaw.

A small window is placed on each of the left and right sides of the door. There are two holes that function as window on each of the temple’s south and north walls, and three holes on the west (rear) wall. The temple’s interior is empty. The temple’s limasan (four-sloped) roof is a plain, without ornaments. The roof’s top has crumbled, which makes it not possible to describe the original form. It was said that Semar Temple was a storage to keep weapons and ritual objects.

Srikandi Temple. This temple is located to the north of Arjuna Temple. Standing on a 50 centimeter high base, this temple is laid out on a square plan. The temple has a staircase and corbelled roof on the east side.

The temple’s walls carry sculptures of Vishnu on the north, Shiva on the east, and Brahma on the south, all of which have deteriorated. As the roof has crumbled, the original form is not recognizable.

Sembadra Temple. This temple stands on a 50 cm high base on a square plan, with projecting parts on its south, east, and north sides that resemble corbelled roof. The door is placed on the west and has a corbelled roof. The projecting parts and corbelled roof have made the temple looks like a polygon. Blocks of stone are arranged in front of the temple as a footway that leads to the door.

The first impression of Sembadra is that this temple looks like a two-storeyed building because its cube-shaped roof has almost the same size as that of the temple’s body. The roof’s top has crumbled, which makes it not possible to describe the original form. On each of the roof’s four sides, there is a small niche to hold a statue.

Puntadewa Temple. Like that of other temples, the size of Puntadewa Temple is not too big, but this temple looks higher. The temple stands on a 2-meter high stratified-base and has two flights of stairs with stone banister to access the interior. The stairs are in two flights to fit the stratified base.

Its roof, which is a big cube, resembles that of Sembadra Temple. The roof’s top has crumbled, which makes it not possible to describe the original form. On each of the roof’s four sides, there is a small niche to hold a statue. The door has a corbelled roof and frame tiled with patterned pieces of flat stone.

Transport from Dieng for almost all travellers will be back down the hill to Wonosobo via the regular bus which stops all the way along the main Dieng road. The cost of this journey is 8,000 rupiah and takes an hour to 1.5 hours, but tourists are often charged more. Negotiate if you can, but if you do pay a premium, use this as leverage to get a good spot for your luggage.

From Wonosobo, direct buses go to many places throughout Java:

Banjar (for Pangandaran): 55,000 rupiah taking 6 hours
Jakarta: 75,000 rupiah taking 13 hours
Semarang: 30,000 rupiah taking 4 hours
Surabaya: 110,000 rupiah taking 12 hours
Yogyakarta: 30,000 rupiah taking 4 hours

Source: travelfish.org

Accommodation within Dieng is mostly in the form of homestays and located within walking distance of the main Dieng intersection. They are generally of a good standard, but lack of heating makes them icy at night, meaning the quality and quantity of bedding is a critical factor in room choice.

Arjuna Homestay, Under IDR 150,000, Ph: (081) 392 329 091
Flamboyan Homestay, Under IDR 150,000, Ph: (085) 727 322 231
Penginapan Lestari, Under IDR 150,000, Ph: (0286) 334 2026

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