Treasures in Jogjakarta: Borobudur

A face in the Borobudur Wall_1280_for_WebYogyakarta, pronounced and often written as Jogjakarta, is a city of about 400,000 on the large Indonesian island of Java (the same as Jakarta).  When it comes to World Heritage sites, Jogjakarta is well endowed.  It boasts the largest Buddhist temple in the world in Borobudur as well as one of the largest Hindu temples, Prambanan. Both temples are about an hour drive from the center of the city, though in slightly different directions.  There are many tours offered that hit up both temples, as well as a few minor temples, in one day. Find out about the majesty of Borobudur below and then check out Prambanan in our upcoming post.

 

Borobudur

Mountain in the morning_1280_for_WebBorobudur is a place that I had wanted to go for quite a long time.  It just seemed a place steeped in mystery and culture, as well as being a place where it seemed impossible to take a bad picture (not actually the case).  This being the case, we decided to do a sunrise tour in order to take the most advantage of the light.  However, it is worth noting that during the time of year we visited (January), the temple does not actually open until after sunrise and the only way to get into the temple for actual sunrise is to stay at the one hotel located on the temple grounds.  Otherwise, the common tour path is to see sunrise from a hill overlooking the temple and then go down to the temple itself.

Borobudur fills the view_1280_for_WebGoing to the temple, you will see two signs leading to two different entrances, one for Indonesians, and one for money-stuffed foreigners.  The tourist price is about US$15, which is quite steep compared to other temple entrance feeds in the area.  Of course, who are you kidding?  You’re going to go anyways, because otherwise there isn’t much point in coming to Jogja.  So you proceed down the trail until you see the temple looming before you. From there, it is a climb up the stairs to enter.  You can then proceed up the steps to the main area at the top or tour around each level of the temple taking in the amazing stone carvings that completely cover the whole building.

Borobudur temple wall tile_1280_for_WebBorobudur wall relief_1280_for_Web

The top of the temple is covered in enclosures that look like bells, each of which contains a sculpture of Buddha.  They are arrayed in multiple levels and give an incredibly impactful impression as they encircle the main tower.  This is one of the unique elements of Borobudur and is what can be used to easily distinguish it in photos.

From the domes to the mountain_1280_for_Web

The whole collection of these shapes as well as the sheer enormity of the temple, given the fact that it is so old, is truly incredible.  One can’t help wonder how such a thing was actually built.  I guess we will never know as the people who built it are no longer around.  In fact, the temple was “lost” in the jungle until, like anything good, a European “discovered” it several hundred years ago.  Since then, great restoration efforts have brought it back to its former glory.

The one thing to mention about the temple is that it is extremely popular, and while I was lucky enough to take a few shots without any interference, most of the time the area is filled with visitors, including school groups on a field trip.  The upside of this is that you get to see the children playing, and though there is something odd about children using cell phones while sitting on the temple, it does make it a nice atmosphere.  Plus, chances are you will be asked to take a picture with the children so they can prove that they were practicing their English.

Exploring_1280_for_WebWith the kids_1280_for_Web

You can’t help leave Borobudur feeling impressed by the majesty of the architecture.  The great temple blends in with the lush, green surroundings as well as the nearby mountains to give it an otherworldly feel that you won’t soon forget.  If you can get to Jogjakarta, Borobudur is a must see.

Queen of the World_1280_for_Web

Posted on by Aaron in Aaron's Blog

One Response to Treasures in Jogjakarta: Borobudur

  1. Tanner

    Cool blog,looking to communicate

Reply to Tanner