A temple is a building that consists of various shapes and functions, like a worshipping place, a religious center for teaching, a dwelling place of the divine, ruins of ancient times or, even a tourist attraction or getaway. In Indonesia, temples are usually called using different names like Candi, Pura, Taman, etc. 

Out of the many beautiful temples in Indonesia, here is the list of 15 temples that every architect must visit.

1. Prambanan temple | Temples in Indonesia

The Prambanan temple was built in the Hindu architecture style in the 9th century. At present, there are mostly just ruins on the site because of two devastating earthquakes that took place in the past. The central structure is larger in scale compared to the surrounding structures, all of which have a squared plan. 

The central three structures are still in the same condition while the surrounding smaller structures have been ruined and are under repair. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The expansive site makes it easier for visitors to visit without a large crowd. Visitors are allowed to walk in and through the temple structure.

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Prambanan temple ©ancient.eu

2. Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple is located in an isolated area surrounded by palm trees and mountain ranges. The colossal monument is 25 miles away from the main city. It is the oldest temple built in Indonesia in the 8th century. This temple has a different style of architecture because it is a Buddhist temple. It is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. 

The unique feature of this temple is that it has survived many volcanic eruptions, terrorist bombs and earthquakes for over 1200 years. The entire temple structure is massive containing smaller dome structures that are intricately detailed.

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Borobudur temple ©thejakartapost.com

3. Pura Besakih | Temples in Indonesia

Pura Besakih is a Hindu temple that houses more than 23 gods. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in Indonesia and goes up to 30,000 feet in height. The structure goes seven levels up on a slope with even the building size increasing on every level as we go up. It was built between the 10th and 14th centuries. 

The temple had been destroyed due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but they have also been restored a couple of times. There are open courtyards that are part of the building structure on various levels. The levels are to signify ‘ascending towards the mountains’.

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Pura Besakih ©thebalifamilyguide.com

4. Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah temple is also called the elephant cave temple because of its rock-cut architecture. It is a Buddhist and Hindu temple consisting of many stupas and idols. The front elevation or the entrance to the temple is designed like a cave with intricate designs carved on stone. One major design on this caved wall was a monster’s face.

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Goa Gajah ©theworldtravelguy.com

5. Candi Plaosan | Temples in Indonesia

Candi Plaosan is a Buddhist temple that was built in the 9th century. There are a wide number of structures (over 300), along with statues, idols and two main temples that are carved on stone. There was also a statue of Buddha on this site which is missing today. There are both male and female figures carved on stone but with a majority of male figures.

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Candi Plaosan ©thenotsoinnocentsabroad.com

6. Ratu Boko temple

It is an ancient structure that is situated on a plateau. It was built around 1000 years ago and the site area spreads across 16 hectares. Due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that took place, there are ruins left on the site which are rocks. The huge gate structure on site gives a nice silhouette during sunrise and sunset. 

The entire site exists on a sloping land because of which it provides different views on different levels. This temple is close to the famous Prambanan temple and consists of various Buddhist shrines and other idols.

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Ratu Boko temple ©indonesia-tourism.com

7. Sewu temple

The Sewu temple site has more than 200 structures made of stone on which figures have been carved. It is a Buddhist temple and is one of the largest in Indonesia. It is similar to the Borobudur temple in terms of detailing and intricacy but scales wise, this temple is smaller. This temple too is situated near the Prambanan temple and was built in the 8th century. 

There have been earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to which few structures were destroyed but restoration has taken place. There is one main complex in the center of the site and smaller shrines surrounding this complex which are intricately designed.

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Sewu temple ©picfair.com

8. Pura Luhur Uluwatu | Temples in Indonesia

The Pura Luhur Uluwatu is unique in its own way and different from the other temples of Indonesia. The temple has a very majestic vibe and is situated in between land and water body which depicts in between earth and heaven.

This temple stands on a cliff beside which is a beautiful view of the sea. This temple was made out of stones and was built in the 10th century. It is considered one of the most important temples in Indonesia where various ceremonies are held.

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Pura Luhur Uluwatu ©blog.airpaz.com

9. Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

The Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple is also called the floating temple. The location around this temple is very beautiful, surrounded by a water body and mountain ranges. The main temple structure stands in the center of a lake which gives a dreamy feeling. It is a Hindu temple that is made of black colored stone that stands straight and high at the center of this water body. The architectural style of this temple is Balinese architecture.

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Pura Ulun Danu Beratan ©insightguides.com

10. Tanah lot | Temples in Indonesia

Tanah Lot is a complex made up of many structures that were built in the 15th to 16th century. These structures are mainly made of wood which stands on strong rock structures as the base. Due to earthquakes and erosions, the site has been separated from the other side of the city and now the site is formed as an island. There have been many activities taking place in this complex like religious, public, and also economic activities.

Tanah Lot ©viator.com

11. Ijo temple

The Ijo temple is a single standing concrete structure that is situated on a hill, from which the temple got its name. The temple is a Hindu temple that has many Hindu god figures carved on its walls. This temple was built in the 10th century. There were also Buddhist statues seen on this site which were of two giants. The main temple stands on the highest level of this cliff while the others stand on different levels descending the highest point.

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Ijo temple ©jogjacompasstours.com

12. Sambisari temple

The Candi Sambisari temple was built in the 7th century. It is a Hindu temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva because of which the name is Candi Sambisari Shiva temple. It is said that the temple was buried due to various calamities like earthquakes and erosions in the 9th century. But in the 20th century, excavations had taken place and ruins of the temple were found on this site which was then restored.

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Samsisari temple ©jogjacompasstours.com

13. Taman Ayun | Temples in Indonesiav

Taman Ayun is also called the Garden temple. This temple is surrounded by a pond which makes the whole scenery look beautiful. Landscaping in this temple complex is given huge importance, like different water bodies around the complex, trees and gardens. 

The architecture style of this temple too is Balinese architecture along with some Chinese architectural styles because of which it has a sophisticated look compared to the other temples in Indonesia.

Taman Ayun ©balicheapesttours.com

14. Tirta Empul

Tirta Empul is a Hindu temple that has a Balinese style of architecture. The temple has various deities of Hindu gods. There is a lake situated in the temple complex which is considered as the holy water where worshippers bathe. 

The temple structure is made up of terracotta and the deities and idols were carved out from the stone. Apart from the holy water, numerous different ponds within the complex have been utilized for landscape and provide a very divine atmosphere.

Tirta Empul ©joeswanderlust.com

15. Taman Saraswati Temple | Temples in Indonesia

The Pura Taman Saraswati temple is a Hindu temple with a Balinese style of architecture. As the name suggests the temple has been dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. The main attraction of this temple is its landscape features along with the architecture. 

The complex has many beautiful lotus ponds and gardens. The temple has many statues and idols made of stone and the main idol of Goddess Saraswathi which has a gold plating. This temple attracts many tourists and has a large crowd.

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Taman Saraswathi temple ©123rf.com

The temples in Indonesia almost have similar features when compared to each other. These temples have a very unique style of architecture as compared to a typical Hindu or Buddhist temple. Architects must visit these temples at least once in their lifetime so that they get to learn a lot of different and unique styles and spread knowledge about it too.


Sanjitha Suresh is an architecture student from Bangalore, India. She is aiming to become an Architectural journalist through which she can spread knowledge about architecture and make it understandable even to the common man, rather than having it confined only within the field of architecture.