Indonesia Series Part 3: Step back in time in Borobudur
"This temple is considered as the world largest Buddhist temple and was built in 9th century during the reign of Sailendra dynasty. It has more than 2,000 relief panels all over and 504 Buddha statues. Around the circular platforms are 72 stupas each containing a statue of the Buddha" - our guide narrates with enthusiasm as we walk the beaten path towards the first platform. It consist of 9 (six square and three circular) platforms narrowing up forming a pyramid. "It was abandoned following the decline of Hindu religion and the conversion of Javanese to Islam" our guide continue narrating with so much conviction. He also mention a tragic story about Hindu and Buddhist people around that time which I will not discuss in this post.
The temple is located in Central Java, specifically in the city of Magelang, where we stayed for a couple of days. As our local guide suggested, the temple is best visited early in the morning, while the sun rises in the east side
between the mountains of Merapi and Merbabu, casting a rays of amber over the horizon, slowly dissipating the fog, and creating a magical backdrop of the temple that is covered in mystery. And as much as we would love to experience it, ufortunately, we did not make it to the temple's marvelous hour. But we still manage to experience the beauty and the details of the structure and its carvings that was intricately built by the old world. Also, the sun is not that hot in the morning and the crowd is not in full so you get to enjoy the place without being disturbed by other tourists.
This is to give you an idea as to how magical the temple is during sunrise. image source
On our way to our destination, were small 'Buddhist' temples and rice paddies with intersections going elsewhere. So it is best if you get a local guide/driver as self-driving may not be a good idea unless you want to get lost in a new city. The temple can be reached by bus, taxi, and even motorcycle. We were lucky that our tour guide slash driver is knowledgeable of the area and we arrived just in time.
The temple complex is located on a hilltop overlooking the Kedu Valley with lush vegetation and green forest. It was built without using any cement with set of blocks like lego interlocking together to form a structure. For several centuries, the temple was hidden in a mound of volcanic ash prior to its discovery in 1814. For additional reading please visit here
It has a total area of 2,500 square meters which means that there will be plenty of walking if you want to explore the park. In fact, we have to walk a couple of minutes to reach the main entrance from the parking area. And on your way to the entrance where the ticket booth is located were plenty of souvenir shops and food stalls. The ticket price for international tourists were priced differently from the locals at the time. As of this posting, the ticke price is around $25.
Borobudur Temple is decorated with thousands of relief panels which depicts the daily life of ancient Java (8th Century), story of the birth of Buddha, and many more.
The headless Buddha
As we reached the top and marvel at the beauty of the entire complex is a saddening reality of headless bodies of Buddhas' that were looted back in the day.
Our visit with the magnificent Borobudur Temple was a bittersweet feeling of indulging the ancient wonder in its glory and saddened at how human greediness disrespects religious sacred monument.
Thank you Indonesia for the effort at meticulously restoring Borobudur, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
All photos are owned by the author unless otherwise stated. If you find any inaccuracy in this post, please comment down below.
Thank you for reading and please upvote and share with your friends.