Indonesia is a country that is very rich in natural attractions and for that reason, there are many places you can visit during your stay in Indonesia. Besides its natural wonders such as the Komodo dragons on Komodo islands and the volcanic crater of Mount Bromo, the archipelagic country also stores cultural heritage in the form of a sacred Buddhist temple, named Borobudur temple (or candi Borobudur in local term).
A UNECSO world heritage site
Built in the 8th century, the Buddhist temple is the largest in the world, only after Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It has been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and has become one of the top places of worship for Buddhists around the world. Located near Yogyakarta, visiting Borobudur is also one of the many things to do in Yogyakarta.
Incredible facts about Borobudur
This 123-meter long and 123-meter wide Buddhist temple contains nine stacked platforms with a dome at the top. The first five platforms from the bottom are square and the rest of the sections to the top are rounded. Like a pyramid, each platform gets narrower as you climb to the top. The building structure is very complex, as the platforms symbolize different periods of human life according to Buddhist teachings, manifested through the reliefs found on the walls.
The base floor is the Kamadhatu section that symbolizes people who are still bound to “worldly desires” that lead them to do ugly things. The next four floors are the Rupadhatu sections that describe those who are successfully free from all desires but are still physically alive and the rest of the floors above are called Arupadhatu, which features people who have been completely freed from both the worldly desires and the physical world. The top floor (Arupa section) is described as the highest level, a place where the Buddha resides. In total, there are 1544 mini stupas (Buddhist shrines) and 504 sculptures of Buddha (some are inside the stupas) of different sizes on all floors with one biggest stupa at the top.
Gorgeous sunrise from the temple's top
The best time for a visit is early in the morning, before the sun rises. Not only will you enjoy the fresh morning air, but together with these Buddha statues, you will have the precious chance to view the morning sun slowly appears from its hiding place behind the mountains of Merbabu and Merapi! The sunrise view is magnificent and provides great photo opportunities for avid photographers.
The temple is normally open to visitors at 6 am and the ticket price is 10 USD (half price for children under 6), but to enter the site before 6 am for the sunrise viewing, you need to pay additional 15 USD for the early entrance.
Hundreds of flying lanterns on Vesak night
On Vesak day (middle of the fourth month in the lunar calendar), the day that marks the birth of Buddha, there are some interesting rituals. The rituals are for the Buddhists, but non-Buddhists can see or even join the rituals. Normally the site is closed for visitors at 5 pm, but on Vesak day, it is open till around midnight. The procession inside the complex starts at 4pm and you will see and hear hundreds of Buddhists and Buddhist monks doing their worship rituals in Sanskrit language (a local language in India). At 7 pm, the worshiping session will end and devotees will circle Borobudur temple while holding a candle. You will find someone distributing candles to visitors and you can join them too. The whole ritual ends at 11 pm, and is marked by the release of more than 1,000 white lanterns into the air. (These lanterns are lighted with esbit fuel and hydrogenated to make them fly).
Watch a traditional dance performance within Borobudur.
Besides the temple visit, there are other activities you can do in Borobudur and one of them is watching a dance performance “Sendratari Mahakarya Borobudur” (Borobudur’s Great Work of Art Dance) that describes how Borobudur’s construction was done more than a millennia ago. Located at Aksobla theater inside the Borobudur complex, the performance involves more than 150 men and women. With the gorgeous background settings of Borobudur temple, exotic dancers in costumes and Javanese traditional music, you will be brought back to the 8th century, the time when thousands of men and women were doing what their king had ordered; to build a great temple to worship Buddha.
To see the performance, you need to contact the management, as it is only held two or three times a year. The ticket price ranges from 300,000 IDR (23 USD) to 600,000 IDR (46 USD), depending on how close you are to the stage.
Elephant ride during your tour
Besides the temple visit and dance performances, how about riding an elephant? You need not travel to Thailand or India for the ride, as you can have that at Borobudur too. With 39 USD, you can have a one-hour ride circling Borobudur temple. Although these elephants have been domesticated, you will need a pawang gajah (elephant handler) to follow you during your ride.
Just 40 minutes from the international airport in Jogjakarta, Borobudur can easily be reached by land transportation. It is also close to other surrounding attractions (Prambanan temple, night market at downtown Jogjakarta and Parangtritis beach). Simply book a hotel in Borobudur area that can arrange an airport pickup for you and enjoy your tour!
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