Indonesia :: Borobudur Temple

Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.
– Buddha

Yet another bucket list item (getting tired of them yet?). In the beginning the temple of Borobudur kept propping up in pictures and I wondered what this marvelous thing was. Then I read up about it and realized that if I ever had the chance I had to go see it for myself.

“Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in the Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of 9 stacked platforms, 6 square and 3 circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.”

It’s exactly as cool as it sounds though, even with all the people milling about sitting on the stupas (right next to the “please don’t sit on the stupa”-signs…)

I remember sitting on Google Maps back in my planning days trying to figure out how to get to the temple, if it was doable, could I live close to it? Laughable now, I spent three nights at a guesthouse within walking distance of the temple. Of course it was easy, it’s incredibly popular and the locals will find a way to make a paycheck out of that (as they should). I took the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, super easy, direct train – and from there you can easily find the white minivan “buses” that drive you directly to Borobudur from Yogyakarta Train Station (they’re right outside) – Yogyakarta to Borobudur with minibus (van) took about 1,5 hrs and cost me $4.

My guesthouse was average, but great location and more than good enough for the price ($15 per night) and my hosts were lovely. I didn’t really need three nights in Borobudur though. I didn’t want to have to rush and I left a day extra in case something happened to prevent me seeing the temple on day 2 (since this was my only reason to visit Borobudur), but I arrived at night, went to the temple the next day and then had a long day of sweet nothings on Day 3. There are other temples to visit etc, but I was “templed out” at this point and didn’t really find anything else to do there, so I went for a walk to a highly rated café a bit of a way away from my guesthouse and found a very nice restaurant for dinner where I spent a couple of hours chatting to some locals. Borobudur was just nice. Not spectacular, but I was happy with my visit.

The best part was the temple though. After (finally!) finding my way in I got up to the top and wandered around it on my way back down. I found a nice, quiet spot where I sat down (not on a stupa) and just enjoyed the sun going down, the quiet and the solitude… That’s when I can feel the “breath of history” (I know that sounds incredibly pretentious, but that’s how I feel about it), I start thinking of the people who carved out the reliefs in the rocks, their thoughts, beliefs, worries… they probably wondered if they were getting paid or if their wife would be happy with the salary they brought home… who knows. Maybe they were men of faith.

Either way, it is a beautiful place. Well worth visiting.

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