Sukuh Temple....The Erotic Hindu Temple Of Java
Trip Start Feb 15, 2012
25Trip End Feb 20, 2012
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Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
This temple is located on the slopes of Mount Lawu and was built in the 13th century. The architecture of the temple has earned it the name 'The Erotic Temple' similar to that of the Khajuraho Temple in India. There are numerous sculptures on the walls, all with the genitals exposed.
The temple is not as difficult as the Gedongsongo cluster of temples as this temple is built on a single platform, with gradual ascensions as it progresses to the main shrine at the far end. The main gates of the temple are closed and one would have to use the side entrance.
As you could see in the photos, there is an inscription of the Lingga Yoni on the floor of the main gates. This sculpture on the floor is revered by the locals. In fact, even when I was there, there were flower offerings and incense sticks lit up at this place as a sign of ongoing prayers by the local villagers living in this area. I was told that the entire village here was a 100% Hindu population, but their Hindu practice is based on the Javanese Hindu practice.
Well, as for the Linga Yoni inscription on the floor at the entrance, I was told that during ancient times when this temple was an active temple, the bride to be would be brought to this temple tying only a single piece of cloth around her body. The she would be told to leap over the sculpture on the floor. It is believed, that should she be able to leap over without the cloth slipping, then she is a virgin and then, is deemed suitable to marriage by the family of the groom who would also be witnessing this event. However, if the cloth slips and falls, then she is considered as unchaste for marriage and thus would remain single throughout her life. Such was the practice then but this is no longer practised. However, prayers and offerings to this sculpture is still performed till date.
The steps and entrances from one platform to the other were very narrow and steep, in fact my dad di have a little difficulty and we had to assist him but somehow he managed to reach the top where the main shrine is.
All along the temple walls, there are inscriptions and sculptures of the ancient stories that had happened in this temple including the war between Hinduism and Buddhism in the early centuries when this temple was constructed. As the record goes, this temple was built by the Majapahit Kingdom.
The most interesting thing about this temple is the main shrine, which is of a different architecture. If the other temples were built in the shape symbolising Mount Meru, Sukuh has a very simple trapezoidal shape. Built in the 13th Century just years before the collapse of the Majapahit Empire, this temple looks more like the Mayan Pyramids from South and Central America. Is it possible that the two different tribes in two different continents built buildings with almost the same shape and architecture? Or was there any influence from the Mayans in the process of Sukuh's construction? So many questions are out there but there has been no affirmative answers yet provided by historians as well as archaeologists.
Many different theories had risen to solve the mystery. One of them said that Sukuh was built in the time when Hindu cultures diminished from Java. As an impact, it was built using the concept back to the pre historic Megalithic culture. Another theory says that the temple shape is a part of finding Tirtha Amirtha (the eternal life water) story in the book of Adiparwa, the first sequel of Mahabaratha. A cut pyramid symbolises Mandaragiri that was cut on the peak to swirl the ocean, looking for Tirta Amirtha which can give eternal life to whomever drank it.
Still, there are many more stories like this about this temple. But surely, this was a Hindu Temple and even near the main shrine, there are other small shrines which has idols of Guardian Deities where daily offering is still performed by the local villagers. I really enjoyed this temple and the wonderful weather here. With the amount of time spent here, we now have to go downhill again to the base of Mount Lawu and then climb another hill which is higher to reach the Cetho Temple which I shall provide more insight in the next entry.