Built around early ninth century ad, candi mendut is the oldest of the three temples including pawon and borobudur. According to the karangtengah inscription, the temple was built and finished during the reign of king indra of sailendra dynasty.
The still standing temple was originally merely one building in a large temple complex that was surrounded by a brick wall. However, only fragments of a few memorial stupas are left from all the other buildings. Candi mendut appears to have a flat rooftop, but this is merely the result of an incomplete restoration.
Originally the temple had two rooms, a small porch in the front, and the large main chamber in the center. The porch has only been partially rebuilt because exact layout of its original roof is disputed.
The eight great bodhisattvas are displayed at the eight corners of the building. Their names are the following: khagarbha, manjusri, avalokitesvara, vajrapani, maitreya, samantabhadra, ksitigarbha and sarvanirvana viskambhin.
The main chamber houses three beautifully carved large stone statues. Each of them was carved from a single block of stone on site, with the walls and the ceiling of the temple constructed around them afterwards. The centrally located 3m tall buddha is flanked either side by the statues of two bodhisattvas. To the left sits bodhisattva avalokitesvara, he is identified by the small figure of the amitabha that he wears in his hair. The bodhisattva to the right as vajrapani due to his slightly demonic, threatening expression. All six currently empty niches are decorated with the same kala-makara theme. Their emptyness indicates that they might have contained statues made out of highly prized materials such as bronze, silver or gold.