Borobudur: The Largest Buddhist monument in the World

Looming out of a patchwork of unbelievably green paddies and swaying palms in central Java, Indonesia, stands the largest Buddhist monument in the world. The colossal Borobudur temple, built in the 9th century, has survived through the ages and remain as enigmatic and beautiful as it must have been 1200 years ago. Such a gem in a neighboring country is not to be missed, so we at Tripeon took some time out to visit one of the most spectacular sights in ASEAN

Borobudur with Bros
Tripeon Brothers @ Borobudur

Getting there

Yogyakarta city is the main gateway to Borobudur temple, and buses leave Jombor bus terminal (in northern Yogyakarta) every 30mins to Borobudur temple. The fare will cost around 25000Rp (USD2) one-way, and the bus will arrive at Borobudur after a 75mins ride. Otherwise, a good way to reach the temple with minimal fuss is to join one of the many day tours that can be easily arranged in Yogyakarta

Hotel at Borobudur temple grounds

Yes you read it right, there’s a hotel located right on the grounds of Borobudur temple! Manohara hotel (website) boasts a unrivalled location and room-rates even includes unlimited back-gate entry into Borobudur. At around 1500000Rp (USD120) a night, rooms are generally comfortable and clean, although they are also smallish and slightly dated. This hotel is also the best bet if you are interested in visiting Borobudur during sunrise/sunset (starts 4.30am), as you can have the whole monument to yourself before it hits normal opening hours 6am~5.15pm

Borobudur temple

Indonesia’s signature Buddhist monument, Borobudur is built from two million stone blocks in the form of a massive symmetrical Stupa, literally wrapped around a small hill. Standing on a 118m by 118m base, its six square terraces are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading up through carved gateways to the top. Viewed from the air, the structure resembles a colossal three-dimensional tantric Mandala (wikipedia)

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Overview of Borobudur

The monument was conceived as a Buddhist vision of the cosmos in stone, starting in the everyday world and spiralling up to nirvana, or enlightenment. At the base of the monument is a series of reliefs representing a world dominated by passion and desire, where the good are rewarded by reincarnation as a higher form of life, while the evil are punished with a lower reincarnation

Starting at the main eastern gateway, go clockwise (as one should at all Buddhist monuments) around the galleries of the stupa. Although Borobudur is impressive for its sheer bulk, the delicate sculptural work is exquisite when viewed up close. The pilgrim’s walk is about 5km long and takes you along narrow corridors past richly decorated narrative panels where the sculptors have carved a virtual textbook of Buddhist doctrines as well as many aspects of Javanese life 1200 years ago

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A step closer to Nirvana

Some 432 serene-faced Buddha images stare out from open chambers above the galleries, while 72 more Buddha images (many now headless) sit only partly visible in latticed stupas on the top three terraces. The top platform is circular, signifying never-ending Nirvana

Admission to Borobudur temple costs 250000Rp (USD20), and includes entrance to Karmawibhangga archaeological museum, which is just east of the monument and contains a vast collection of original stones and carvings from Borobudur and some interesting photographs

In short, we at Tripeon recommend it’s well worth planning to spend a few days in the Borobudur region, which is a supremely beautiful landscape of impossibly green rice fields and traditional rice-growing kampung, all overlooked by soaring volcanic peaks; while also taking the chance to visit the crown jewel of Indonesia’s sights, the amazing Borobudur temple

*  Traveled 2016

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