Borobudur is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. Borobudur Archaeological Park is cited as UNESCO World Heritage and is the largest Buddhist archaeological site in the world. The object has attracted many tourists for having sophisticated construction, high historical values, and incredible stories.
How to Get There
Take a flight to Adi-Sucipto International Airport on Yogyakarta. And then, take a public bus named TransJogja to Giwangan Terminal or Jombor Terminal. The ticket is only $0.2. On the terminal, find a minibus with the straight route of Jogja-Borobudur. This minibus departs every hour and will take you straight to the temple. This bus will cost you about $0.4.
There are many hotels around Borobudur with ranging rates and qualities. If you wish a luxury resort with a direct view to Borobudur, have a stay at Amanjiwo Hotel which is located very close to the temple. Mostly, tourists choose to stay in Yogyakarta as there are more choices of hotels and other tourism objects there. It only takes one hour or less to go to Borobudur from Yogyakarta.
There is no certain document stated about when and by whom it was built. But according to the estimation by scientists and archaeologist, it is strongly believed that the temple was built around 8th or 9th century, under the order of Syailendra dynasty. The temple was speculated to be abandoned around the year of 928 to 1006 for unknown reason. As years went by, the temple was gradually covered in ashes and the trees started to grow on it. The temple was rediscovered on 1814.
The Dutch colonial wanted to do the restoration not long after it is discovered. But due to Japan’s take over, World War II, and Indonesian Revolution, the plan never went well. After the independence of Indonesia, the government collaborated with UNESCO to do the total restoration for this majestic shrine. The project started in 1970 and took eight years to complete it.
Borobudur temple is highly influenced by Indian, Buddhist, and Javanese architecture. If viewed from above, the temple has similar shape to tantric Mandala, a Buddhist symbol that represents cosmology and the nature of mind. The temple’s perspective has the structure of step pyramid with nine levels. Those levels are categorized into three divisions; Kamadhatu, Arupadatu, and Rupadatu. Each division represents a realm of Buddhist cosmology. The base level is Kamadhatu which represents the world of desire. The next five levels represent Rupadhatu, the world of forms. Meanwhile, from the seventh level to the top one is Arupadathu which represents the formless world. Kamadhatu and Arupadathu have almost square shape in the layout. But Arupadhatu has circular layout as it represent the formless world.
Borobudur consists of hundred stupas spread thorough the Arupadhatu and Rupadhatu level. Every stupa is decorated with sophisticated carvings and holes. There is a Buddha statue inside each stupa. There is a myth says that if you can touch the statue by reaching out your hands through the stupa hole and say your wish, then your wish would come true.
Borobudur is intended to be the shrine to Lord Buddha as well as a religious object. Even until today, the Buddha people still uses the temple for praying and celebrating their religious days. Vesak Day is the greatest day in Buddha theology. It is the day of birth, death, and the enlightenment of Buddha. On this day, Buddhist people would gather on Borobudur to worship their God, pray, and celebrate the holy day. Vesak Day ceremony has unique ritual and is very much attractive to tourists.
The walls on each level of Borobudur are decorated with reliefs carved in stones. These reliefs tell a lot of story including the birth of Buddha (Lalitavistara), the story of Prince Sidharta Gautama, the story of Sudhana, the story of Manohara, and other historical stories about Buddha or Sriwijaya Kingdom. There are about 2,627 panels of relief carved in the stone walls of Borobudur. With this amount, experts believe that there is no greater or more complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the whole world than on Borobudur temple.
Another unique fact about Borobudur is that the construction did not use any kind of cement or mortar at all. The structure is just blocks of rock assembled directly to each other like Lego. Even so, the structure is very strong. Even if the building has been abandoned and forgotten for almost ten centuries, it still stand tall and strong.
Still within the area of Borobudur Archaeological Park, there is a museum named Karmawibhangga Museum. It is an archaeological museum where most collections are from Borobudur. There are artifacts, disassembled stones and stupa parts, decorative panels, and more. From the museum, you can also learn more about the history of Borobudur.
Borobudur Archaeological Park is surrounded by traditional villages that are quite unique to visit. Try coming to Wanarejo Village on the eastern side of Borobudur. At this village, you can learn to make handicrafts from plaited bamboo, clay, and young coconut leaves. Camping area is also available at this village.
There is also Bumisegoro Village where the environment is still natural. You can see a lot of paddy fields and huge trees. The wind is so refreshing here. The view of Borobudur stupas is beautifully visible from this village.
Do not forget to also visit Punthuk Setumbu. It is a small hill located about 2.5 kilometers away from Borobudur. This is the best place to view the sun rise at the background of Borobudur temple. This spot is mostly favored by the photographers as it is the best spot to catch the most breath-taking view of Borobudur.
Borobudur Archaeological Park is best to explore on foot. But because the area is very wide, some people might get tired to walk this much. Therefore, they offer several kinds of transportation such as:
- Single bike is rented for $0.75 if you wish to ride by yourself.
- Tandem bike is rented for $1.2. It is perfect for couples.
- Andong (traditional horse cart) with the capacity of four people is available for $2.25. It is the perfect option if you wish to enhance the atmosphere and avoid spending too much energy as you can just sit and enjoy the view.
- Trackless train (Kereta Kelinci) is also available with the ticket of $0.4 per person. It is mostly loved by children or visitor with children.
That was the transportation you can use if you are just exploring inside the area of Borobudur Archaeological Park. If you wish to explore the surrounding villages as well, then walking is clearly impossible. So here is the list of transportation options that you can really use:
- Motorcycle is able to be rented for$3.75 to $5.25 per 12 hours
- Onthel bike (old-school bike) is rented for $1.5 per 10 hours
- Federal bike (modern bike) is rented for $2 per 10 hours
- Andong ride for Tour de Villages package is available for $6.
- Tour guide is a significant investment for touring around Borobudur because it has plenty reliefs that tell incredible stories, myths, and histories. To understand them all, you would need a licensed tour guide which is available on the management office nearby the entrance gate of Borobudur. The rates started from $3.75 for one tour.
- During dry season, the sun might shine so brightly and rather hot. You might want to bring an umbrella or a sunhat. Umbrellas are available for rent in the area for only $0.1. You can also buy a sunhat at this park for about $2 to $5.
- The ticket to enter Borobudur Archaeological Park is $14.25 for adult and $7 for kids under the age of six.
- The Park is opened at 06.00 in the morning and will close at 17.00
- About half hour from Borobudur Temple, there is another majestic temple named Prambanan. Prambanan Temple is also popular amongst tourists. Most tourists who visited Borobudur would visit Prambanan Temple as well. So do not miss it.
The majestic temple of Borobudur is not just about an old building with sacred aura. It also keeps many incredible stories and lesson that you might enjoy, just like many tourists do. In fact, Borobudur is the most visited single attraction in Indonesia. So, why not give it a try?