Kalasan temple is located in Kalibening village, Tirtamani, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta Special Province, around 16 km to the east of Yogyakarta city. Kalasan inscription mentions that this temple is also known as Kalibening temple, referring to the place where the temple is situated. Another temple called Sari temple is situated not far from Kalasan temple. Both of the temples have similarities in magnificence of the building and the smooth carvings. Other unique characteristics found only in the two temples are the presence of vajralepa (bajralepa) to coat the sculptures and reliefs on the outer side of the wall.
It is dedicated to a Buddhist Goddess, TARA. It is 6 meters tall and has 52 stupas. This unique Buddhist temple is located east of Yogyakarta, on the south side of the main road between Yogyakarta and Solo. It was built in honor of the marriage between king Pancapana of Sanjaya Dynasty and a Princess of Syailendra Dynasty, named Dyah Pramudya Wardhani. It is beautifully ornamented with finely carved relief and coated with “vajralepa”, a yellowish material made from the sap of a certain tree. The vajralepa functioned as an adhesive and as protection against moss and mildew, while at the same time it refined the carvings. This temple is 24 m high and its base built in the form of a Greek cross.
A temple was typically built by a king or person who has authority over a specific area with various purposes such as a worshipping place, a religious teaching center, monastery, and administration center. The description of Kalasan temple is stated in the Kalasan inscription, written in the Javanese year of 700 (778 AD). The Kalasan inscription is written in Sanskrit language and pranagari letter. The inscription describes that spiritual counselors of the Syailendra dynasty had advised King Tejapurnapana Panangkarana to build a scared building to the worship of Dewi Tara and a monastery for Buddhist monks. According to Raja Balitung inscription (907 AD), Tejapurna Panangkarana refers to Rakai Panangkaran, the son of Sanjaya King from Hindu Mataram kingdom.
According to the archeologist, Kalasan temple has been restored three times. It is proofed by the presence of 4 angles at the base of the temple in slightly forward position. A written sign is mention that Van Romondt, a Dutch archeologist already restored Kalasan temple between in years 1927 to 1929. Today the followers of Buddhism from Tantrayana sect and Dewi Tara still use Kalasan temple for a worshiping place.
Kalasan temple has 4 doors located on each side of the temple’s body, but only the east and west doors that have stairs, and only the east door that serves as an entrance to the main chamber inside the temple. Based on the main entrance position, the temple can be said to be facing the east. Niches can be found along the wall of the temple, although some of them no longer have statues inside. A decoration of Kala is found above every frame of the doors and niches. Niches to the left and right side of the door are adorned with reliefs of god in standing position with hand holding lotus flower. The upper side of the wall is embellished with comb reliefs in various motifs such as a flower bud, leaves, and creeping plants (kumuda).
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