Situated on the (inner) road between Muntilan and Mendut (E of M). Map reference: 1408-243 Muntilan [19,59] [explanation].
Ngawen could be a Vajrayana Buddhist temple dedicated to the five Dyani buddhas, however, this has not been conclusively proven.
The temple is believed to be mentioned in the 824AD Karang Tengah inscription that talks of a venu-vana-mandhira (bamboo/forest/temple).
Description of architecture
The candi complex contains five shrines, arranged from North to South, with the entrance at the East side. Structures I, III and V are of a smaller type than the ones they flank. The temples are built in a square plan that by way of rectangular protrusions is transformed into a 20-cornered arrangement. The lower basement is broad, and the temple could be circum-perambulated. The outer walls have cella (niches) for seated statues that have not been found.
Typical are the corner towers between the lower basement and the start of the stairs. These are common on East Java, but in Central Java only known at Prambanan. The lions are equally special. Their open snouts are water ducts for the temple gallery. At the plinth level atop the approach stairs is a pair of small flanking buildings to shelter the door guardians. This is rare on Java, but Indian examples of this can be found in Mathura in India in the 1st & 2nd C AD. Ngawen has beautiful ornament.
Description of reliefs and statues
Standing lion statues in the temple's corner are unique to this temple. The five structures suggest the five Dhyani buddha but only one statue has been found on the site (Van Erp suggested this might be Buddha Sakyamuni in meditation), while another was relocated in the early 20th C from a neighbouring village as it was believed to have come from Ngawen (and its size and style seem to confirm this).
Rediscovery and restoration
Rediscovered in 1864 by Hoepermans. At the time a damaged buddha statue suggested that more might be hidden under the 2-3m tall hill. Tentative research started in 1899, Brandes visited in 1903, and Van Erp in 1909. Vink sent for a week of research shortly after. Van Erp identified particular architectural and design traits. In 1920, the sawah where the temple was located was drained and excavations started. Restored are Ngawen I (North) of which the lower basement remains and Ngawen II that could be rebuilt to the first roof plinth. Many stones in the facade had to be remade, not normally desired in a reconstruction, but it was done in order to show the special shape the building had. Work done under Perquin, report in Oudheidkundig Verslag for 1927. .