Sukuh Temple (Candi Sukuh)



Known as the “erotic temple,” 15th-century Candi Sukuh stands on the slopes of Mt. Lawu, its entrance marked by a large lingam (phallus) and yoni (vulva). The pyramid structure of the temple, not to mention the erotic carvings, make this very different from other Javan temples, and some think it harks back to pre-Hindu, animist beliefs.

The Basics
There is a small charge to enter Candi Sukuh and admire its beautiful scenery and diverse statuary, not all of which is erotic. Candi Sukuh tours typically depart from either Solo (Surakarta), which is closer, or Yogyakarta, which is a much more popular base for visitors. Due to the temple’s geographic isolation, it’s unusual to visit independently; most travelers arrive on a tour, perhaps combined with nearby Candi Cetho and Candi Kethek or, if traveling from Yogyakarta, Solo itself.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Candi Sukuh is a must for fans of erotic art and lovers of temples in general.
  • Sarongs are required to visit Candi Sukuh. You can rent one for a small donation at the entrance.
  • The multilevel site is not wheelchair-accessible.
  • Candi Sukuh is around 2,990 feet (910 meters) above sea level. It can get both cool and very rainy from time to time, so bring a raincoat.

How to Get There
Candi Sukuh stands in the foothills of Mt. Lawu (Gunung Lawu), around 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Solo (Surakarta) and 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Yogyakarta. Getting here by public transport is fiddly and involves a long uphill walk. Almost all visitors prefer the comfort of a tour to negotiating vehicle rental and navigating Central Java’s choked highways.

When to Get There
Candi Sukuh is open from early in the morning to late afternoon seven days a week and, due to its relative isolation, is rarely busy, making the small site a refreshing change from more popular Java temples. Visiting early, when the mist rises from the rice fields, can be particularly attractive and make for timeless photographs.

Rituals at Candi Sukuh

Although many of the more erotic statues have been vandalized, and at least one lingam removed to a museum, Candi Sukuh still preserves some of the erotic carvings that have given it the sobriquet “porn temple.” The phallus at the entrance was traditionally used to test whether a wife had cheated or a fiancée was still a virgin: If her sarong fell off when she jumped across the lingam, she was no true lady.


Java, Central Java


Religious Sites

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