Candi Kidal

14 min read Jun 11, 2024

Unveiling the Secrets of Candi Kidul: A Journey Through Time and Belief

Nestled amidst the verdant landscape of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, lies Candi Kidul, a temple complex steeped in mystery and intrigue. Often overshadowed by the grandeur of Prambanan and Borobudur, Candi Kidul holds its own unique allure, whispering tales of ancient kings, forgotten rituals, and the enduring power of belief.

This blog post will embark on a comprehensive exploration of Candi Kidul, delving into its history, architecture, mythology, and the cultural significance it holds today. Prepare to be transported through time, unraveling the layers of legend and uncovering the hidden stories embedded within the temple's very stones.

A Temple Born from Tragedy: The Origins of Candi Kidul

The story of Candi Kidul begins with a tragic tale of love and loss. According to Javanese legend, the temple was built in the 14th century by King Kertabumi of the Majapahit Kingdom, in honor of his beloved queen, Dewi Kuda Laras. The queen, who was known for her exceptional beauty and grace, met a tragic end, drowning in the waters of the Laut Kidul, the Southern Sea.

Heartbroken, the king sought solace in constructing a grand temple dedicated to his lost queen, a monument to their love and a place for her spirit to reside. Thus, Candi Kidul, which literally translates to "Southern Temple," was born, its very foundation intertwined with a poignant tale of love, sorrow, and the enduring power of memory.

The Architectural Splendor of Candi Kidul: A Fusion of Styles

Candi Kidul is a fascinating example of architectural fusion, incorporating elements of both Hindu and Buddhist styles. The temple complex, located within the Wana Wisata Imogiri, a sprawling forest reserve, comprises several structures, each with its own unique character and significance.

The Main Temple: The heart of Candi Kidul is the main temple, a towering structure built of volcanic stone. This temple is dedicated to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice and fertility, a figure of profound significance in Javanese culture. Its majestic architecture, with its elaborate carvings and ornate decorations, speaks to the craftsmanship of ancient Javanese artisans.

The Pendopo: Connected to the main temple by a paved path, the Pendopo, a large open pavilion, serves as a ceremonial space. Here, traditional rituals and ceremonies are performed, paying homage to Dewi Sri and seeking her blessings for bountiful harvests and prosperity.

The Bale Kambang: Further down the path, nestled amidst a serene lake, lies the Bale Kambang, a picturesque pavilion perched on a small island. The pavilion is believed to be the resting place of Dewi Kuda Laras, where her spirit is said to reside. The tranquility of the lake, the serene beauty of the pavilion, and the ethereal atmosphere that permeates the space all contribute to the legend of the queen's lingering presence.

The Water Gate: Leading to the Bale Kambang, the Water Gate is a striking architectural feature, a gateway to the realm of the queen. The gate is intricately carved, with intricate designs depicting mythical creatures and sacred symbols, further enhancing the spiritual aura of the site.

The Mythology of Candi Kidul: Tales of Love, Loss, and the Divine

Beyond its architectural splendor, Candi Kidul is deeply rooted in Javanese mythology and folklore. The stories surrounding the temple, woven through generations, offer insights into the beliefs and values of the people who built and worshipped there.

The Legend of Dewi Kuda Laras: As mentioned earlier, the most prominent legend associated with Candi Kidul revolves around the tragic fate of Dewi Kuda Laras. It is said that the queen, a devout follower of the ocean deity Nyi Roro Kidul, accidentally fell into the Laut Kidul during a pilgrimage. The ocean deity, moved by her devotion, granted her immortality, making her the queen of the South Sea.

Nyi Roro Kidul, the Queen of the South Sea: The figure of Nyi Roro Kidul is central to the mythology of Candi Kidul. She is depicted as a beautiful and powerful goddess, clad in white, who rules over the Laut Kidul. According to legend, she is both benevolent and dangerous, capable of granting boons and inflicting curses.

The Forbidden Waters: The waters of the Laut Kidul, known for their treacherous currents and unpredictable nature, are said to be under the dominion of Nyi Roro Kidul. Locals believe that the queen is drawn to handsome men and often lures them into the sea, where they disappear forever.

The Rituals and Offerings: The legends surrounding Candi Kidul have given rise to a rich tapestry of rituals and offerings. People come to the temple to seek the blessings of Dewi Sri and Nyi Roro Kidul, offering prayers, flowers, and incense in hopes of good fortune, protection, and peace.

Candi Kidul Today: A Cultural Hub and Tourist Destination

Candi Kidul remains a significant cultural and spiritual center, attracting devotees, scholars, and tourists alike.

The Cultural Significance: The temple continues to play a vital role in the lives of local Javanese communities. Every year, various rituals and festivals are held at Candi Kidul, celebrating the legacy of Dewi Kuda Laras, seeking blessings from Dewi Sri, and paying homage to Nyi Roro Kidul.

The Tourist Attraction: As a popular tourist destination, Candi Kidul offers visitors a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Java. The temple's stunning architecture, the serene atmosphere, and the intriguing legends associated with the site make it a compelling and unforgettable experience.

The Importance of Preservation: The preservation of Candi Kidul is of paramount importance. The temple's historical and cultural significance makes it a valuable treasure that must be protected for future generations. Ongoing efforts to conserve the temple and the surrounding forest reserve ensure that this remarkable site continues to inspire and enchant.

Beyond the Temple Walls: Exploring the Surrounding Landscape

Beyond the architectural marvels and the legends that enshroud Candi Kidul, the surrounding landscape offers an additional layer of beauty and intrigue.

The Wana Wisata Imogiri: Nestled within the sprawling Wana Wisata Imogiri, a forest reserve known for its dense vegetation and diverse flora and fauna, Candi Kidul becomes a sanctuary, offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Imogiri Royal Cemetery: Located in the same forest reserve, the Imogiri Royal Cemetery is the final resting place of the kings and queens of the Mataram Sultanate. This historical site is a testament to the legacy of Javanese royalty and offers a glimpse into the royal traditions and rituals that once defined the region.

Exploring the Nature: The forest surrounding Candi Kidul is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Hiking trails weave through the dense foliage, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The serene atmosphere of the forest, combined with the beauty of the temple complex, creates an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and spiritual seekers alike.

A Final Reflection: Candi Kidul - A Testament to Faith and Resilience

Candi Kidul is more than just a temple; it is a testament to the resilience of human spirit, the enduring power of belief, and the enduring legacy of ancient Javanese culture. The temple's history, architecture, and mythology weave together to tell a compelling story of love, loss, devotion, and the mystical connection between humanity and the divine.

Whether you are drawn to the temple's architectural grandeur, its intriguing legends, or the peaceful atmosphere of the surrounding forest, Candi Kidul offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The temple stands as a beacon of cultural heritage, reminding us of the enduring power of faith, the importance of preserving our history, and the enduring beauty of the human spirit.

As you step away from the temple complex, carry with you the whispers of the past, the echoes of ancient rituals, and the enduring spirit of Candi Kidul. The journey through time and belief that you have undertaken will leave an indelible mark on your soul, reminding you of the interconnectedness of history, culture, and faith.

This journey through Candi Kidul has been just a glimpse into the vastness of its story. There are still many secrets hidden within the temple walls, many layers of meaning to uncover, and many stories to be told. As you continue your exploration, remember that every stone, every carving, and every legend holds a piece of the puzzle, waiting to be revealed.