Borobudur Temple

Prior to our departure we were told that we shouldn’t leave Indonesia without going to Yogyakarta and visiting the one of the world’s largest Buddhist and Hindu temples: Borobudur and Prambanan. After visiting and exploring Jakarta, we then took an 8 hour train ride east to see and marvel the two temples. The experience was truly amazing.


Mt. Merapi on the left and if you squint a little Borobudur’s pointed dome on the right

The first thing I read from blogs is that Borobudur should be experienced during the early hours of the morning, when the sun makes the temple glow. Taking advice from blogs we decided to do just that, leaving our homestay at 4am we made our way to the temple complex, a 1.5 hour drive away from Yogyakarta.


Astrological alignment of all things 

However, when we reached the gate of the temple complex it was still closed and our driver suggested we visit Setumbu Hill first and then make our way down to Borobudur at 6am. Groggily we agreed and drove a little further into the rice fields and woodland to the hill. From the parking lot we hiked up a 10 minute trail to catch our first glimpse of Borobudur and Mt. Merapi.


Early in the morning 

Atop the hill was a majestic view: a sea of clouds and patches of forest peeking every now and then. While the sun slowly rose, the clouds slowly dissipated and little by little Borobudur became more and more visible, it’s stupa clearly visible even from afar. But it wasn’t just the temple that made the morning majestic but also Mt. Merapi. Like Sauron’s Mt. Doom it loomed over the temple almost menacingly. The orange glow of the morning sun casting an eery sight.


It’s going to be a grand day in Borobudur


The path to enlightenment

At a little past 6am we finally made our way to the entrance of the temple complex and paid the student fee for a 2-in-1 ticket to visit both the Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes. Following the pathway I quickly noticed how well-maintained the complex is, the compound was absolutely alive with various shades of green and rows upon rows of trees. The temple sits atop a small and from a distance, its gold colored stones and complex sculptures were already a sight to behold. After climbing the stairs leading to the entrance of the temple my breathe was taken away by the immense and grand structure in front of me.


Anyone wearing shorts will be given a sarong…I look funny though

Once again I was amazed by human workmanship and the grandeur of ancient civilizations. With over three layers forming an Asian version of a pyramid eventually terminating with the glorious stupas. From the east entrance there were already beautiful sculptures of buddhas in various positions.


Just one of the many Buddha sculptures in the temple

Prior to entering the temple, there were specific instructions in navigating the temple, entering the east entrance, visitors should make their way clockwise until ending up in the east entrance. From there visitors move up to the next level and repeat the process three times until they reach the apex of the temple. This process is believed to be the path of enlightenment buddhists adhered to during their pilgrimage to the temple. Following the instructions we did the same and from one layer to the next.


There were thousands upon thousands of reliefs 

Inside the temple, its walls were adorned with reliefs, without a guide or a brochure these were incomprehensible to me. Nevertheless I marveled at the beauty of the reliefs, the intricate designs, and the painstaking artwork. From what I gleaned from some readings prior to the visit, the entire temple tells the story of Buddha and his path to enlightenment, think of it like a really ancient version of a Facebook timeline. The reliefs were really beautiful, in fact the whole temple was beautiful, my eyes were taking in every nook, cranny, inch, recess, sculpture and in the morning sun it was even more beautiful.


Enlightenment…so close yet so far


Finding solace and beauty

After exploring and winding our way from one section of the temple to the next we finally reached the apex with its rows of stupas converging at the center. From the top I saw the entire complex with its trees and the surrounding mountains. Up here it was peaceful and despite the crowds of schoolchildren, I basked in the history of the temple, and pondered about life’s greatest mysteries under the watchful eye of Buddha (I kid in that last part).


Inside the stupas are Buddha figures

Before we went down the temple, Ian told us to look for the buddha inside a stupa without a cover, with the vast number of stupas and buddhas inside it, the one without a cover was quite easy to spot. Placing a hand on Buddha Ian told us to make a wish, apart from wishing I also thanked him for the wonderful morning and the opportunity to visit such a beautiful and marvelous temple.


Early morning view

Visiting Borobudur was truly an eye-opening experience, seeing an ancient man-made structure, touching the relief panels carved by Buddhists centuries ago was an experience that cannot be repeated again. I am glad that I was able to visit and experience this temple.


Solitude and balance

Borobudur Park 

Ticket Price: US$32 for 2-in-1 ticket to Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple. 
Jl. Badrawati, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56553 Indonesia
Phone : +62 293 788 266 / +62 293 788 267
Fax. : +62 293 788 132
Email :


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