Sari Temple, is an 8th century Buddhist temple located at Dusun Bendan, Tirtomartani village, Kalasan, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta. It is located about 130 meters north east from Kalasan temple. The temple was a two story building with wooden beams, floors, stairs completed with windows and doors; all from organic materials which now are decayed and gone. It is suggested that the original function of this building was a vihara (Buddhist monastery), a dwelling place for monks. The temple’s name Sari or Saré translates as “to sleep” in Javanese, which also confirms the habitation nature of the building.
Historians suggested that the temple was built around the same time as the Kalasan temple. The Kalasan inscription dated 778 AD, in Pranagari script written in Sanskrit, , mentions that the temple was erected by the will of Guru Sang Raja Sailendravamçatilaka (the Jewel of the Sailendra family) who succeeded in persuading Maharaja Tejapurnapana Panangkaran (in other parts of the inscription also called as Kariyana Panangkaran) to construct a holy building for the goddess (boddhisattva devi) Tara and also build a vihara (monastery) for Buddhist monks from Sailendra family’s realm. Panangkaran awarded the Kalara village to the Sangha (the Buddhist monastic community). Based on this inscription, Candi Sari was probably the monastery for monks who served the nearby Kalasan temple.
The ruins were discovered in early 20’s, and in 1929, an effort to reconstruct the temple began and was finished in 1930. However it was incomplete because many parts are missing including the outer base that surrounds the temple, and the extended front room and front stairs that once projected from the east wall of the temple
Sari temple is located in Bendan hamlet of Tirtamartani village, Kalasan, Sleman about 10 kilometers from Yogyakarta, and only around 3 kilometers from Kalasan temple. The temple is also named after the hamlet where it is situated. It is estimated that the temple was built at the same time as Kalasan temple on the 8th century AD during the rule of King Panangkaran. The two temples indeed have many similarities either in its architecture or relief. That these temples are correlated is stated in Kalasan inscription (700 Saka/778 AD). The inscription mentions that the spiritual advisors of Syailendra dynasty suggested King Tejapurnama Panangkarana or Rakai Panangkaran to build a shrine and a monastery for Buddhist monks. Following the suggestion, the king built Kalasan temple to the worship of Dewi Tara Sari temple as a monastery for Buddhist monks. That Sari temple serves as a monastery is indicated in the temple’s structures, structural components, and interior. The bell-shaped stupa on top indicates that this is a Buddhist temple. Sari temple was discovered in ruins in the early 20th century. The first restoration was conducted between 1929 and 1930. Kempers said that the first restoration was not satisfying, as it failed to restore the temple to its original form because parts of the temple could not be found. In addition, parts of the temple had crumbled when they were discovered. In the 19th century, ruins of temple, probably a monastery, were found around 130 meters from Kalasan temple. Sari temple is only a part of a group of temples no longer in existence. It is estimated that the temple was surrounded by stonewalls. As that of Plaosan monastery, the entrance door of the Sari temple is guarded by a couple of Dwarapala statues holding a cudgel and snake. Sari temple is laid out on a rectangular plan 17.30 x 10 m in dimension, although it is believed that the original dimension was wider because the temple’s original base projects around 1.60 meters. The temple stands around 18 meters from bottom to the top. The temple’s gate, which is around one-third of the temple’s face and half of the temple’s height, has already gone, leaving only traces connecting the gate and the front wall. According to Kempers, Sari temple was originally a building with two or even three floors. The upper floors served as storage of religious objects, while the lower floor was to accommodate religious activities such as teaching and learning, discussion, and so on. The wall of the temple is coated with vajralepa (bajralepa), similar to the wall of Kalasan temple is. That the temple is divided into two floors is already visible from the outside with the presence of projecting part like a belt around the temple’s body. The division becomes more apparent with the pillar arrangement along the wall of the lower floor and with niches along the wall of the second floor. Niches along the outside walls of the upper and lower floors, which had probably held Buddha statues, are empty. The temple’s outer walls are adorned with statues and other beautiful ornaments. Each of the door and window frames is flanked by statues of man and woman standing and holding lotus flowers. There are a total of 36 statues; 8 on the front wall (east), 8 on south wall, and the 12 on the west wall (back). The size of each statue is as big as human figure. At the other parts of the wall, there are various designs of decoration, such as Kinara Kinari (man-headed bird), twining plants and kumuda (leaves and flowers creeping out of a spherical jar). There is a Kalamakara above the window frame and niches sculptured without its lower jaw. The Kalamakara looks very decorative and far from being frightening. As it is the case at Kalasan Temple, there is Vajralepa coating applied over the walls of Sari Temple. Vajralepa is an agent that preserves and brightens stones. The stairway accessing the temple base has crumbled. Next to the stairway, there is a stone pedestal. It is unclear though, whether the pedestal belongs to that place or not. However, the pedestal was half buried to the ground. The entrance is located in the middle of east side. In the original design, the entrance was preceded by a corbelled roof. As the corbelled roof has fallen into ruins, the entrance is clearly seen from outside. The embellishment on the entrance frame and the Kalamakara on the frame are simple because the more beautiful decorations were on the corbelled roof. There is a row of three chambers inside the temple. Each chamber is 3.48 meters x 5.80 meters. There are windows and doors connecting the middle chamber to the flanking chambers. Those chambers are designed to be two-storeyed chambers. Each chamber is divided into two storeys using planks of wood supported by 14 wooden beams. Therefore, there are actually six chambers inside the temple. At the back wall of each chamber, there is a shelf placed rather high on the wall. People used to use the shelf to pray or to place relics. At the lower storey, there are pedestals and recesses on the wall for holding statues. However, no statue is found here. At the south and north chambers, there are niches on the wall to place illumination. Although the floors and other wooden parts of the structure are not seen at the site, there are holes in the walls in which people used to fit wooden beams. At the south chamber, there are stones on the wall that with slanting markings. Those markings are meant to support the edges of wooden steps. The temple roof is a rectangular block of stones ornamented with three niches on each side. The niche frame is decorated with sculptures of twining plants and there is a Kalamakara above the frame. At the top of the temple, there are rows of stupas. There is a stupa on each corner of the roof, and there is a stupa at the middle of each roof side. Sari Temple was undergoing restoration when the pictures shown here were taken in March 2003.