Located on the island of Java, the magnificent Borobudur temple is the world's biggest Buddhist monument you must visit at least once in your lifetime. The area is surrounded by beautiful scenery of Central Java’s nature that you can only find there.
The temple sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Built between AD 780 and 840 during the reign of Syailendra dynasty, the temple's design in Gupta architecture reflects India's influence on the region. However, there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.
It covers a total surface area of around 2,500 m2 of Kedu Valley, the southern part of Central Java. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and originally 504 Buddha statues, surrounded by green area. The architecture and stonework of this temple have no equal. It was built without using any cement or mortar. The structure is like a set of massive interlocking Lego blocks held together without any glue. It is no wonder that Borobudur is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The temple has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1814 under the order of Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles. In the 1970s, the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty. The restoration took eight years to complete, making Borobudur one of Indonesia’s most valuable treasures. That is the reason why you will find a number of restrictions to touch or sit on the Borobudur site when you visit it. The locals really want to keep the beauty of this temple as it tells the story of their history.
The temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief, representing images from the life of Buddha. Commentators claim that this is the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit.
When you plan to visit Borobudur temple, it is recommended to explore the site on foot. You may choose to walk through Green Park from the entrance. Many vendors will offer you souvenirs and other knick-knacks as you walk through this area. You can also find some Indonesian traditional souvenirs such as batik, traditional clothes of Indonesia and other interesting small display statues. Although there are regulations to prevent them from disturbing visitors, it is recommended to buy some traditional souvenirs that they sell to remember the beauty of Borobudur temple.
As you climb to the top of this magnificent temple, you will marvel at the intricately detailed stone carvings displayed on its walls. You also need to pay attention to certain etiquettes when visiting this cultural site, such as dressing nicely, avoiding any kind of vandalism, keeping your attitude, respecting the religious activities that you may find when you are there and lastly, do not over-pose when taking pictures. If you happen to wear shorts during your visit, you may have to borrow sarong and wear it around your hips.
While you are at the site, make sure to learn about its history and importance, which are captured on its many reliefs. Guides are available to help you learn more about this monument with some language options, so you do not need to worry about deepening your historical understanding of Borobudur temple. They will be able to walk you around the site and explain the history of the temple, beginning with its construction during the Syailendra dynasty and explaining each detail of it. The stone carvings attached to the temple display legends and stories, which have great philosophical significance.
Borobudur is about an one hour’s drive from Yogyakarta. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour or renting a car. During your journey to Borobudur, you can enjoy the fresh cool air of Magelang city with its roads lined with big shady trees. Borobudur itself stands tall against the spectacular backdrop of the Menoreh mountain range that surrounds it. It is recommended to visit the site during April - October, which constitutes the dry season of the country. Also, it will be better to visit during the day instead of evening to get a clear view of the temple.
When you arrive at the parking site, usually you need to walk to get to the entrance gate. For international tourists, you need to prepare for 350,000 rupiahs or 25 USD to get the tickets. If you still need to buy some snacks, there are other street vendors that sell traditional cuisine of Central Java which you might have never tasted before. Entering the temple compound is easy, and most visitors choose to wander around on foot. Alternatively, you can chart a horse-drawn carriage at a reasonable price. Those cruise passengers who disembark at Semarang can also take a day tour driving through Wonosobo to Borobudur.