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Pawon Temple – Small Temples Related to Borobudur and Mendut

pawon temple

Pawon Temple – Pawon Temple is one of the temples located just a few kilometers from Borobudur Temple. Pawon Temple is also known as Bajranalan. Pawon Temple is an important temple in Magelang for Buddhists. When commemorating the Vesak Day ceremony, Buddhist pilgrims will carry out the ritual of walking from Mendut Temple to Borobudur Temple but also passing Pawon Temple.

In Javanese, Pawon means the name “Kitchen/Dapur”, some people believe that the name Pawon also comes from the word “Per-Awu-an” which means Dust. Pawon Temple was claimed by Dutch archaeologist JG de Casparis as a sacred place to store the ashes of King Indra in 782 – 812 AD, namely the father of King Samarratungga from the Syailendra dynasty who converted to Buddhism.

Pawon Temple is also called Bajranalan which is taken from the Sanskrit Vajra which means thunder and Anala which means fire. For this reason, Vajranala or Bajranalan is believed to be King Indra’s weapon and Bajranalan or Pawon Temple is a sacred place to house this weapon.

pawon temple

Location of Pawon Temple

Pawon Temple is a temple that has extraordinary historical value in the construction of Borobudur Temple and Mendut Temple. The location is located on a straight line between Borobudur Temple and Mendut Temple. Pawon Temple has very strong links to Borobudur Temple and Mendut Temple, this was strengthened by the Syailendra Dynasty in the 8-9th century AD.

Professor Purbatjaraka, an Indonesian anthropologist, is of the opinion that Pawon Temple is Upa Gangga or an integral part of Borobudur Temple. The size of Pawon Temple is not like Borobudur and Mendut Temples, it is only small, but there are many stories on offer for anyone who is interested in its architecture and history.

Pawon Temple stands on a rectangular stage approximately 1.5 meters high from the ground. The sides of Pawon Temple are decorated with carvings depicting flowers and vines. Very different from the shape of other temples, the body of Pawon Temple is relatively slender and similar to Hindu temples.

The gate of Pawon Temple is decorated with the size of a Kala Makara (Giant Makara) without the lower jaw, this is a common image found in classical temples in Java. Kala Makara’s missing lower jaw symbolizes her destructive aspect as the Cosmic Mother, her wide open mouth seems to attract the universe.

On the outer walls of Pawon Temple, there are carvings of men and women symbolizing Boddhisattva and Taras, namely the Buddha’s name for those who have achieved enlightenment.


pawon temple

Kalpataru on the exterior wall of Pawon Temple

On the outer wall of Pawon Temple there is a Kalpataru relief, this relief depicts the tree of life which has the divine power to grant wishes. Even though Pawon Temple is very old, the details of the reliefs are still very clear. On the justify side above the tree depicts Apsara, namely a female cloud spirit, while on the right side depicts the Devata or Hindu guardian spirits.

pawon temple

Meanwhile, on both sides of the base of the tree depict Kinnari and Kinnara, namely mythical creatures, half woman, half bird, who are famous for their dances, poetry and songs. Kinnara and Kinnari are traditional symbols of beauty, elegance and accomplishment. By paying attention to the Kalpataru relief, we can even see the small wings of the Kinnari.

There are carved niches depicting the God Kubera in a standing position on the outer front wall of the temple, which can be found on each side of the entrance to Pawon Temple. Kubera is known as Vaisravana in Buddhism who is known as the lord of wealth and the king of Yaksha gods. The existence of Kubera carvings on Pawon Temple also indicates that the temple is actually dedicated to Kubera.

Pawon Temple is the dwelling place of the Boddhisattva

Pawon Temple has a room that is hollow and empty, with nothing in it. However, experts believe that inside Pawon Temple there was once a Boddhisattva statue. This statue is believed to be a sign of respect for King Indra, who is said to have reached the level of Boddhisattva. In the Loh Karang Tengah inscription, it is stated that the Bodhisattva statue emits Vajra or light and this gives rise to suspicion that the Bodhisattva statue was made of bronze.

Pawon Temple and Borobudur Temple have a very close relationship, this is confirmed by the roof of Pawon Temple which is covered by five small stupas called Dagoba which have a slightly different shape from the one on Borobudur Temple. Even though the size of Pawon Temple is smaller than the two temples nearby, Pawon Temple has a strong attraction for tourists and historians. Pawon Temple is attractive due to the beauty of its architecture and its mysterious origins.

Pawon Temple is also dubbed the “Jewel of Javanese Temple Architecture” because of its simple shape, symmetry and harmony.