Sewu Temple is located 2 km north of Prambanan Temple. This is the second largest Buddhist Temple complex in Java; Restoration is professionally underway to reach its original form. It is a MANDALA, manifesting the universe in the center temple of Mahadeva, surrounded by four rings of 250 smaller temples of Gods. Sewu Temple complex is located in Prambanan Temple Park area, about 800 meters to the north of Rara Jongrang Temples. The fact that this temple was built near Prambanan Temple, which is a Hindu temple, indicated that the Hindus and Buddhists lived in harmony.
This temple was probably built in 8th century by Rakai Panangkaran (746-784 AD) and Rakai Pikatan, the kings of Mataram Kingdom. Mataram was under the influence of Syailendra family, who were Buddhist. Scholars estimate that Sewu Temple was the center of religious activities of Buddhist people. The assumption is founded on the content of andesite stone inscription discovered in one of the ancillary temples. The sculpture, known to be Manjusrigita, is written in Ancient Malay dated in the Javanese year of 792. The stone inscription describes prasada purification rituals called Wajrasana Manjusrigrha in the Javanese year of 714 (792 AD). Manjusri is also mentioned in Kelurak stone inscription of 782 AD, discovered near Lumbung temple.
Thousand Temple is situated next to Prambanan Temple, making it part of Prambanan Temple tourism area. The area also has Lumbung Temple and Bubrah Temple. Not far from the area, there are several other temples, namely Gana Temple, around 300 m to the east, Kulon Temple, 300 m to the west, and Lor Temple, around 200 m to the north. Sewu Temple, the second biggest Buddhist temple after Borobudur, and Prambanan temple, which is a Hindu temple, indicate that during the period Hindu and Buddhist communities had lived a harmonious coexisting life.
Sewu Temple has four gates on the east, north, west, and south that lead to the outer court, and each of them is guarded by a couple of Dwarapala statues facing each other. From the outer court into the inner court, there are also four gates, each guarded by a couple of Dwarapala statues similar to those at the outer gates.
The main temple has 1 main room and 4 small rooms of which are doorways to the temple. The east door serves as main door to the main room. That way, the main temple faces to the east. The structure has 9 ‘roofs’; each of them forms a stupa on the top. It is believed to be a royal temple and was one of the religious activity centers in the past. Based on the inscription dated back to 792 AD, which was found in 1960, the name of the temple complex was probably “Manjus’rigrha” (The House of Manjusri). Manjusri is one of Boddhisatva in Buddhist teaching. Sewu Temple was probably built in the 8th century at the end of Rakai Panangkaran administration. Rakai Panangkaran (746 AD – 784 AD) was a popular king from the old Mataram kingdom. HC Cornelius studied the temple firstly in 1807. NJ Krom did the first archeological study in 1923.
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