Borobudur – an otherworldly site
A photo story
Let me just start by telling you that the idea of a this series of favourite places in the world was born with Borobudur in mind. I was so awed by this place that I thought it deserves its own post. But then, I realised that there are so many places in the world which also deserve to be showcased separately. You know, something along the lines of “500 places to see before you die”. Et voila!
Now, Borobudur. This place has certainly put a spell on me. I don’t know if it is the grandeur of it, the location, the story or simply the energy of the place but there is something about this temple that completely draws me to it.
The temple is situated in the lush Kedu plain in Central Java, with 4 active volcanos as its backdrop and surrounded by the idyllic landscape of the emerald rice terraces.
About Borobudur temple
Dating from the eight century (around 300 years before Angkor Wat), Borobudur is the largest buddhist temple in the world and it belongs to Mahayana school of buddhism. You can read a bit about the two main schools here.
Seen from the air, Borobudur looks like a mandala, a representation of the cosmos. Viewed from he ground but from afar, the temple has the shape of a stupa. However, when your are getting close, you can notice 2 styles of architecture. The top (also the centre piece) is in the shape of a stupa and it sits on three circular layers containing smaller stupas. There are 72 stupas in total and each of them contains a buddha statue inside. However, what is really interesting is that most of these statues have no head anymore. There are 2 open stupas with full body buddhas sitting in meditation somehow giving the impression that they are in fact contemplating the exquisite view surrounding the temple. And it is exactly what you would want to do to there!
Borobudur temple is both a shrine and a pilgrimage place. You cannot go inside the temple as there is no “inside”, no room. You can only walking around on each floor . This walking action is called “Pradaksina” and it is meant to honour the spirits.
Today, Borobudur temple is a UNESCO World heritage site and of of the greatest monuments in Asia and in the world.
Location of Borobudur temple
Borobudur is situated about 40km from Yogyakarta, in the Borobudur park. There is a hotel on the park premises where I highly recommend you to stay in order to be able to really take your time and take in the beauty of this place. I arrived there early afternoon and left next day at noon. So that gave me the chance to catch not only the sunrise but also the sunset there! Plus if you stay at the hotel, you don’t need to pay the entrance fee anymore. Obviously the rooms are not very cheap but to me it was 100% worthwhile.
The best time to visit the temple is at sunrise. No words can explain the beauty of the temple at dawn! But you have to get there really early to beat the crowds. Even though I stayed on the premises (probably less than 100m from the temple) I had to wake up at 4AM and go there. It was completely out of this world as it was still pitch dark at that hour and you can hear the calls to prayers everywhere. But it was all worth it!!!
Sunrise at Borobudur
Stormy Sunset at Borobudur
There was no actual sunset to be witnessed the day I was there due to the heavy clouds and the approaching storm.
But the atmosphere and the mood created by the imminent storm was completely surreal!