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Candi Ijo, Yogyakarta Overview

Candi Ijo, or the Ijo Temple, occupies a spot roughly at a distance of four kilometres from Ratu Boko. Established during the 10th and 11th centuries, the Candi Ijo is close to Yogyakarta in Indonesia. The compound of the temple adorns the serene hamlet of Groyokan, in the Sambirejo Village.

In keeping with the name of the hill on which it is perched, at four hundred and ten metres above sea level – the Gumuk Ijo Hill – the temple is also named Ijo. Ijo, in the Javanese language, translates to 'green', which is evidenced through the lush rice paddies and the surrounding west lying villages that provide an excellent panoramic view from the hilltop. Watching the sunset from this point is quite perfect as well.

Candi Ijo is one of the sacred Hindu relics which are dated back to the time when the Mataram Kingdom was in power in Java, Indonesia. Although Candi Ijo is the highest temple in Yogyakarta, it is yet to be exposed to mainstream tourism. Believed to have been built as a Shaiva worship spot, the compound of the Ijo Temple spreads across 0.8 hectares. The holy sanctuary also witnesses a fair share of Hindu festivities throughout the year.

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Temple Divisions and Architecture

1. The Temple Compound
The entire complex of the breathtaking Candi Ijo is comprised of the main temple as well as several other smaller temples and terraces. The compound consists of seventeen building structures, which have been divided into eleven separate yards. The sacredness of each building depends on the patio on which it has been placed. The building that stands on the topmost terrace is considered to be the most sacred. Thus, while the main temple is perched on the highest terrace, the other terraces house the ancillary temples. The west of Gumuk Ijo that is close to the foothill, certain excavations have led to the discovery of holy ruins. It is believed that there are still over ten smaller temples which are still buried, waiting to be uncovered.

2. The Main Temple
There are paintings in every corner of this shrine. At the entrance, one may find the motif of a giant with two heads with some of its attributes. The entrance to the main temple, or the garbhagriha, lies on the western side of the complex and is adorned with two false windows on each side, decorated in Kala-Makara style of architecture. The walls facing the northern, southern, and eastern sides also have three niches each, once again decorated with the glorious Kala-Makara adornment. Of the three slots, the central one is slightly taller and is assumed to have held Hindu statues inside them once. Now, however, they are empty.

Of the eleven terraces, the first acts as the yard, which leads to the main door. At the height of 1.2 metres above the ground, the door is adjacent to a flight of stairs, fringed with makaras. These stairs run from west to east and have been built to gain access to the door. The top of the main entrance is lined with Makara bodies with Kalas' heads, with small parrots carved inside their mouths. The Kala-Makara style of architecture was prevalent in ancient monuments of Java.
Once we reach the main chamber, we are brought face to face with a vast Linga and Yoni, decorated with the Naga serpent. This union of the Yoni and the phallus-shaped Linga is symbolic of the cosmic and holy union between Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati. Three niches are found on each side of the inner walls of the room. Unfamiliar or 'lesser' Hindu Devas and Devis are designed on these niches in a way that they seem to fly towards these structures.

The terrace of the central temple is built in the shape of a stepped pyramid, with three ascending terraces that show a decrease in size. On each step of the roof, there are three ratnas, and a bigger Ratna sits as if crowning the tip. In between the roof and the body of the temple, we may find floral patterns and dwarfs, known as gana. Antefixes holding decorative frames adorn the edges of the ceiling, in which several images of Hindu gods and goddesses can be seen with flowers in their hands.

3. The Perwara Temples
While the main temple faces west, the three Perwara, or lesser temples, stand in front of it, all facing east. These temples were built to honour the Holy Trinity, or the Trimurti, of the Hindu Gods – Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu. Each of these temples has rooms with perforated windows that are shaped like rhombuses. However, the murtis, or statues, are long gone. The roofs are arranged in the form of stepped pyramids, with ratnas adorning each step, just like the main temple.

How To Reach Candi Ijo

1. By Road
The ideal starting point is the Adisucipto Airport, which lies to the west of the Gumuk Ijo Hill and then taking the Trans Jogja through the route 1A. Stop near Prambanan Shelter, and hire a motorbike to Candi Ijo. The same route can be followed if you take Tugu Railway Station as the starting point.
If you start from the Giwangan Bus Station and take the Trans Jogja through the route 3A, you shall reach the Adisucipto Airport and move to Candi Ijo from there.

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