The sun is setting leaving silhouettes of towering stone peaks majestically built in the 9th century by Rakai Pikatan the Sanjaya Hindu king of ancient Mataram, to compete that of Borobudur temple built by the Mahayanist Buddhist Sailendra dynasty. Entering the east gate one comes across the main temples dedicated to the Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with smaller temples along each sides with remains of hundreds of other shrines today are but piles of stone that once graced the temple compound. The main Shiva temple illustrates one of the most beautiful aesthetic expression of the ancient Hindu Javanese culture. Built according to traditional Hindu style architecture it shows the earthly and celestial realms, with carvings decorating the upper galleries depicting stories inspired from Valmiki’s Ramayana epic. The four temple chambers are adorned with statues of Shiva, Ganesha, Rishi Agastya and Durga – popularly connected to the legendary story of Loro Jonggrang – the ill fated princess turned into stone by prince Bondowoso angered by unrequited love. While the bas-reliefs tell the stories of the Hindu lore, smaller panels represent carvings of lions in niches and kalpataru tree of life flanked by kinnaris or heavenly birds as well as lokapalas or celestial guardians of directions. These guardian figures are stylistically represented sitting with various mudra hand gestures.
The Ramayana epic is represented around the gallery portraying the story of Sita abducted by the demon king Ravana rescued by her husband Rama with the help of the monkey king Hanuman.