Borobudur - July 2014
Central Java, Indonesia
Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What I found most amazing about this temple is that is has been standing longer than Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which most people are familiar, but very few people know of Borobudur.
Historians say Borobudur Temple was created in the 9th-century in Central Java, Indonesia. There is no written record of what the purpose of the Temple was for or who built it. Today, Borobudur is used for pilgrimages; once a year, Buddhists celebrate Vesak at the monument.
The structure of the monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms. There are 504 Buddha statues, 72 of these are seated inside their own perforated stupa. They surround the main dome, located at the center of the top platform. The Buddha below is missing his stupa. Many of the Buddhas are badly damaged.
They say you need to see the temple at sunrise, during the day, at sunset, and at night. We did, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for the brief time we were there. However, often when I see photos of this spectacular temple there are clouds.
... day view
Borobudur was hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (also a key player in the history of Singapore) rediscovered the temple in 1814. The facts behind its abandonment remain a mystery.
The temple is built from two million stone blocks that were fitted together with no cement. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels. The stones were not meant to be seen, as the entire monument was originally coated with white plaster and painted.
Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.
We were up at 4 am to meet at the front desk of our hotel at 4:30 for our "pilgrimage" to the temple. Luckily, our hotel was on the temple grounds. It was pitch black and created a very eerie feeling. You can see twin volcanoes, Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi in the background.
Local legend says that if you climb this temple with one wish in your thoughts, reach your hand inside the bell-like stupa at the top of the temple, and successfully touch the Buddha's figure inside, your wish will come true.
Sunrise was a calming and peaceful experience.
Built in the 10th century, this temple is the largest Hindu Temple in SE Asia. It is dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) with three temples dedicated to the animals that served them.
You can walk around the first tier and enter each temple.
Prambanan Temple collapsed due to an earthquake in the early 11th century, and was rediscovered in the 17th century. In its original form, the temple complex contained over 250 large and small temples.
It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since 1918 they have been restoring the temples using both the traditional method of interlocking the stones and modern methods using concrete to strengthen the temple structure.
Candi Sewu Temple (below) is a 9th century Buddhist temple complex very near Prambanan. Historians say the proximity of the two temples tells us that in Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another. It is the second largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia after Borobudur.
The temple was severely damaged during an earthquake (6.4) in Java in 2006. They are slowly repairing the structure, but crumbling stones can be seen everywhere.
After watching the sunrise, we had a lovely breakfast ad then took a 2-hour horse buggy ride to a neighboring village.
We stopped to play on this massive tree.
The parasite plant that took over the main tree was amazing.
D had to swing on the vines.
There are many small temples sprinkled around the village. I could not find the English names, so I can't provide any information.
Our driver took us to see little rice cakes being made. It was actually quite interesting and the ladies were so friendly. They had me sit and form one - they were all laughing at my technique (or lack of!). It was all in fun.
They bake the rice cakes over an open fire and sell them.
The final product - some savory and some sweet.
We enjoyed our visit to Borobudur Temple. We wished we would had stayed two nights instead of one. Next stop - Yogyakarta, Indonesia.