The Prambanan temple is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and the second-largest in South East Asia after Angkor Wat. Prambanan temple compounds originally consisted of 240 temple structures. The structures are tall and similar to Shikhars (towers in temples) of Bharatiya mandirs. The first building of the complex was completed in the mid 9th century. A temple was first built at the site around 850 CE by Rakai Pikatan and expanded extensively by King Lokpal and Balitung Maha. A script bearing the name pikatan was found on one of the finials on top of the balustrade of Shiva temple, which confirms that King Pikatan was responsible for the initiation of the temple construction. The statue of Shiva Mahadeva is inside the garbhagriha of the main temple. Shivagrha Trimurti temple was the tallest and the grandest of its time. Temple was designed to mimic Meru, the holy mountain, the abode of Hindu Gods, and the home of Shiva. The whole temple complex is a model of the Hindu universe.
The Opak river was flowing near the temple. According to the Shivagrha inscription, a public water project to change the course of a river near Shivagrha temple was undertaken during the construction of the temple. The river now runs North to South on the Western side of the Prambanan temple compound. Experts suggest that the shift of the river was meant to secure the temple complex from the overflow and from the volcano. (The Shivagrha inscription is an inscription from the Mataram kingdom of Central Java.) This act seems to be so similar to that of the change in course of river Ganga by Bhagirath and change in the course of river Chandrabhaga. River Chandrabhaga was near the Sun temple of Konark. The designers of the temple are said to have changed her course to protect the temple structure.
After being used and expanded for about 80 years, the temples were mysteriously abandoned near half of the 10th century.