Pawon Temple: Tracing the Central Point of Three Buddha Temples

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Candi Pawon kicks it in Borobudur Village, Borobudur District, Magelang Regency, Central Java. It’s like a stone’s throw away from Mendut Temple and Borobudur Temple.

Pawon is roughly two kilometers from Borobudur and about a kilometer southeast from Mendut. You could draw a straight line connecting these three temples, making folks think there’s some tight connection between them.


The founder of Pawon Temple is believed to be a big shot from the Syailendra Dynasty of the ancient Mataram Kingdom. These Buddha-loving rulers held it down in Medang during the 8th-9th centuries.

The first king of the Syailendra Dynasty in ancient Mataram was Sri Dharmatungga. After his curtain call, he passed the baton to King Indra (Sri Sanggramadananjaya), whose ashes supposedly found a cozy spot in Pawon Temple.

According to the National History of Indonesia: From Prehistoric Times to the Proclamation of Independence by M. Junaedi Al Anshori (2011), King Indra was a fierce warrior and a devout Buddhist.

His reign marked the rise of the Syailendra Dynasty in Medang. Indra’s successor, King Samaratungga, kept the good times rolling. It was under Samaratungga’s rule that Borobudur Temple was constructed.

The construction of Pawon and Mendut Temples is also believed to have gone down during Samaratungga’s era (792-835 AD).

What’s Inside Pawon Temple?

Pawon Temple sits in a straight line, side by side with Borobudur and Mendut Temples. That’s the scoop, hinting that these three Buddha spots are pretty tight.

A Dutch inscription researcher, Johannes Gijsbertus de Casparis, threw out a theory that Pawon Temple, aside from being King Indra’s ash crib, also served as the gateway to Borobudur. People would cleanse their bodies and minds there, shaking off any inner grime.

The hunch that Pawon was where King Indra’s ashes kicked it gets some weight from the name itself. “Pawon” in Javanese means kitchen.

Casparis decoded it as “awu” or ashes. Locals, though, call it Candi Brojonalan, coming from Sanskrit words Vajra (thunderbolt) and Anala (fire).

The Karang Tengah inscription spills the beans that there was once a statue in Pawon Temple radiating light (Vajra), and some folks suspect it was a bronze Bodhisattva.

On the flip side, an ancient Javanese studies whiz from Indonesia, Poerbatjaraka, thinks Pawon Temple is like Borobudur’s sidekick, an inseparable part of the temple. It’s like Pawon is the kitchen that’s also part of the house.

What’s The Name of “Pawon” Mean?

So, according to the book “Borobudur Isn’t Just a Temple,” the origin of the name Pawon Temple isn’t crystal clear.

But Casparis suggests that “Pawon” comes from the Javanese word “awu,” which means “ashes,” with the “pa-” prefix and “-an” suffix pointing to a specific place.

In everyday talk, “pawon” means kitchen. However, Casparis reads it as a place for ashes, not cooking. Locals also throw around the name “Bajranalan” for this temple.

Read More: Exploring the Wonders of Borobudur 2023: Opening Hours, Admission, and the Thrill of Ascending the Temple


Pawon Temple is put together with andesite stones, laid out in a square-ish shape.

Picture this: each side of the temple is about 10 meters long, and the whole shebang stands at a cool 13.3 meters tall. It’s facing west, with a chamber that’s 2.56 meters by 2.64 meters, reaching up 5.20 meters.

The temple is split into three parts: the base, the body, and the candi’s crown. The base is 1.5 meters high and rocks some fancy ornamentation like flowers and vines.

The body of the temple is decked out with Bodhisattva statues, and up top, in the square-tiered roof, you’ll find stupa decorations.

So, on the front wall of Pawon Temple, right above the entrance, there’s this carving showing Kuwera (the God of Wealth) just standing there, doing his thing.

Then, on the north and south walls of the temple, you’ve got these reliefs of Kinara and Kinari – creatures with bird bodies and human heads.

This duo is standing on either side of a kalpataru tree, which is growing in a fancy pot. Around this tree, you can spot a bunch of cash bags. Up top, there’s a couple of humans taking flight.

Oh, and there are these small windows up there, serving as vents. In between those vents, they’ve carved some lotus flowers. The reliefs at Pawon Temple are all about decoration, no story vibes in these carvings.

Location and How to Get There?

Finding this temple is a piece of cake because it’s right in line with Mendut Temple and Borobudur Temple. Pawon Temple sits smack dab in the middle, roughly 2 kilometers northeast of Borobudur and a chill 1 kilometer west of Mendut.

Geographically, it’s hanging out in Brojonalan Hamlet, Wanurejo Village, Borobudur District, Magelang Regency, Central Java. Easy peasy.

If you’re rolling into town and want to hit up this temple from Yogyakarta, cruise down Mataram Street and Pangeran Diponegoro Street towards Magelang – Yogyakarta Road.

Keep on that road until you hit the roundabout, then take the second exit onto Magelang – Yogyakarta Road, cruising past Viar Kharisma Motor Mlati. Stick to Moh. Yusuf Street until you roll into Dusun 1. Once you’re in this area, just keep an eye out for those brown road signs. Boom, you’ve reached your destination.

For those of you coming from the east, like Boyolali or Temanggung, there are public rides ready to drop you off at the spot.

But heads up, it might take a bit longer compared to a personal ride, which only takes about 70 minutes from downtown Yogyakarta. Easy breezy!

Read More: Malioboro: The Heart of Jogja with Enchanting Magical Allure

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee for Pawon Temple won’t break the bank – it’s about Rp10,000.00 per person for local folks and Rp20,000.00 for our foreign friends.

If you’re rolling in on two wheels, parking will set you back Rp2,000.00, and for the four-wheelers, it’s Rp5,000.00. Affordable vibes all around!

Facilites and What to do?

While you’re kicking it in this area, soak in the natural beauty around the temple, maybe hop on a bike, and why not grab some souvenirs too. And guess what?

This spot is a goldmine for Instagram-worthy pics. The grassy fields around the temple are a selfie paradise for tourists.

If you’re all about that landscape photography, don’t pass up the chance to capture this historic beauty from every angle. I guarantee the shots will be top-notch and artsy.

To keep visitors comfy, there are some decent facilities, though not super fancy. You’ve got a pretty spacious parking area, bathrooms, and a bunch of food stalls run by the locals. And not only is the grub tasty, but it won’t burn a hole in your wallet either. Good times all around!

Let’s Explore Java!

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Find out the package now from Yogyakarta Tours:

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Borobudur Sunrise

Prambanan Ramayana Ballet

Timang Beach

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Author: Pramitha Chandra

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