Dieng Plateau, 70 miles from Yogyakarta, rises more than 2000 meters above the sea, offering up one of the best vantage points in Indonesia and creating a lofty setting for some of the oldest and most interesting Hindu temples within Java. The site is thought to have once been a lively city home to thousands of priests who maintained the temples and called them home.
The temples at Dieng Plateau were constructed around the 8th century. They were built across the highland plain, sitting proudly for many years. Central Java’s ongoing de-population created more and more empty spaces until the city was completely deserted, with the valley flooded and unapproachable. Dutch-Flemish archaeologist Isidore Van Kinsbergen emptied the valley water in 1856 and discovered such beautiful and historic architecture from the Central Javanese region it became world renowned.
The temples are simple in beauty and great in archaeological magnitude. The long road is what will take your breath away, with a climb into the steep isolation surrounded by mountainous terraces and garden parcels dotting a massive plateau, which is now a boggy cavity of a crumpled but active volcano. Excursions to the surrounding mineral lakes are possible along with a trek to Sembungan, Java’s most alpine village.
There are several possible short trips to be made from Dieng to see nearby attractions. There is a distinct loop to you can hike that takes around four hours and begins at Dieng. Visitors will get a chance to explore Colored Lake, Bima Temple, Sikidang Crater, and then return to the Arjuna Complex, Candi Gatutkaca, and finally Dieng. There are several other craters and lakes in the vicinity, but most are difficult to access.
To get the most out of a visit, it is highly recommended visitors stay right in Dieng village. Nearby Wonosobo (west of Lombok and Bali) is slightly more developed and can also make a good base. For those traveling from Indonesia to Malaysia, this can be done after visiting major points of interest in Indonesia’s east side and beginning the journey toward Thailand and Vietnam. The temples and the more interesting sites around Dieng can easily be explored in about a day’s worth of walking. Morning is the best time to begin a look around; by the afternoon the mist starts to roll into the village and can cause some visibility issues.