Treacherous winds, temples and traffic, describes my 2 days driving around the worlds most populated island. My goal, to see Indonesia’s largest Hindu and Buddhist temples and the chance to spend the night on top of its most active volcano!
After watching the Merapi sunrise, I packed up camp and began to descend the mountain back to my scooter. It was time to continue my on my journey to Indonesia’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur. The first half of the drive was slow going with traffic and horrible road construction, but the scenery was still great as I passed through mountains and farm fields.
Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and it is one of the world’s largest Buddhist temples. Borobudur is a stunning monument of traditional Javanese architecture, built in three tiers, each level represents the three realms of Buddhism and each platform represents a different state of enlightenment.
For an unknown reason Borobudur was abandoned and it laid hidden throughout the centuries. During its abandonment, Borobudur was buried under ash from a massive eruption of Mount Merapi. It stayed hidden until its re-discovery by the Dutch in the 1800’s! Now Borobudur is a protected UNESCO world heritage site and Indonesia’s most visited attraction.
The walls of Borobudur are covered in painted murals and reliefs, depicting Buddhist traditions, stories, history and laws. These reliefs and associated stupas are full of hidden meaning. Even the shape of Borobudur is meaningful! If viewed from the sky Borobudur is shaped exactly like a giant mandala, symbolizing Buddhist teachings of the universe. As you ascend each tier you are supposed to do so from the east entrance and circle the monument in a clockwise direction looking at each section of reliefs in a very specific order.
Most people visit Borobudur as part of a tour from Yogyakarta but Borobudur is very accessible if you want to try and visit it on your own. The foreigner entry fee for Borobudur is 325k Rupiah for adults and 195k for children and students (with ID). The fee for foreigners has increased 100k as of May 2017. You can get a combine ticket of Borobudur and Prambanan for 520k Rupiah.
Borobudur technically opens at 6 am but for those who purchase a special sunrise ticket are allowed entry at 4 am. The sunrise ticket is 450k Rupiah for adults and 225k for children (no student discount). The sunrise ticket is not valid with the combination ticket. With Indonesia’s heat Borobudur is someplace you would want to visit in the mornings or evenings. I arrived midday, at 2 pm, and it was way beyond hot outside, but despite the heat Borobudur was still busy.
For those backpacking or visiting on your own, Borobudur has a free luggage storage. I was able to drop off my backpack with my camping gear, instead of lugging it around like I did at Prambanan.
Borobudur is interesting. If you do some research before visiting, you can find a lot of meaning in it’s construction. With the heat and amount of visitors make sure to go earlier in the day, I was too exhausted from the last few days to deal with either and did not stay as long as I should have.
Have you been to Borobudur before, or are you planning a trip? Let me know you thoughts in the comments below! If you want to find out more about my Java adventure check out the Destination Indonesia page.
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