The Mendut temple faces west contrary to Borobudur which has its front to the east. Architectonically the latter is called a stupa the former a "chandi". This word originated from "Candika", one of the names of Durga, the goddess of death.
According to Buddhist customs a "chandi" is used for ceremonies, whereas the Hindus used to built a "chandi" as a shrine to preserve the relics of kings or other persons. Accordingly the Mendut Temple was only used for worshipping services (Dharma Ratu). The Borobudur stupa was the initiation place (Garba-Kocya-Dhatu) for novices to be ordained priests. The name of " Mendut " is a derivation of the Sanskrit term Venu (bamboo), Vana- grove- Mandira (temple), standing for " a temple amid the bamboo grove".
The Temple of Mendut was built at about the same time as Borobudur, in the second half of the eight century, and most probably by the Cailendra King Sri Maharaja Panangkaran. Located only about 2 kilometers from the Borobudur temple, the Mendut temple has its own important role in ancient religious ceremonies.
When entering the front gate along a flight of steps we arrived at the porch, the back wall of which is ornamented with bas-reliefs, representing the Kalpavreksa tree (the jewel bearing). Wishing tree on both halves of it, whereas the wall on the north side (left) shows the goddess Hariti surrounded by her children (symbol of fertility) and on the south wall we see god Jambhala or Kuwera ( the symbol of richness) also amid his offspring. The bas-reliefs overhead show gods (devas), throwing from above.
Upon entering the adjoining cell we observe the statue of Buddha Cakyamuni, sitting on a throne (prabha) and respectively on the left and on the right hand are the statues of Vatalokite Isvara (a small image of Amitaba in his crown) and Vajrapani (a Vajra weapon of Indra in his crown). Those three statues represent the Trinity in the Unity. Below the statue of Buddha Cakyamuni is a cakra wheel between two deer. The hand pose of the Buddha image is turning the Wheel of the Law of Cause and Effect (Dharma Cakra Pravarta Mudra). Buddha Cakyamuni is depicted proclaiming the Buddha Doctrine in the deer park in the town of Benares. Remarkably, Buddha has not the usual cross-legged sitting attitude, but both legs are hanging. (Pralambha-Padasana).
Other distinctive marks of Buddha Cakyamuni are frizzy hair with a bump jutting outward, and in the mid of the forehead there is a small knot, representing the third eye. The lobes of the ears are long and the eyes focussed on the nose tip have an expression of tranquility. Around the neck three necklaces like stands are perceptible. Those are the rings of felicity. The robe is depicted as if made of a very thin fabric, in such a way that the statue seems nude. Obviously the statues were made under the influence of the Gandara art. In front of the statues there are six empty niches. In all probability those niches were formerly used to put in the candles for worshipping.
The ceiling of the cell has a pyramidal structure. The most important thing about the pyramidal roof is the keystone in the middle top that supports all stones that form the roof. On the outer side of the body of the temple (the "die") we find the image of Devi Tara (Sakti or Spirit of Buddha), chiseled in the north wall, Avalokite-Isvara is on the east wall, and Manjusri on the south one.
On the balustrade of the stairs, leading into the temple, carvings represent stories from the Jataka, which are also found in the ornaments on the footing of the "die" (the stylized figures of animals) e.g. stories about the double-headed bird, the stupid crocodile and the monkey, the bird and the monkey, etc. On the sub-basement we find ornaments in which we recognize a carpet with images of Bodhisattvas (Vidyadaras), faces turned upward in adoration of the Trinity (Buddha-Dharma-Sanga) inside the cell chamber.
Opening for public daily from 07.00 AM until 05.00 PM, it is advised for you to also visit the vihara (Buddhist monastery) near this temple.