Everyone has to answer this question for him or herself. When I visited the Buddhist Borobudur temple near Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia, I didn’t even really notice all those other tourists any more. I became calm, concentrated and studied with fascination the many little details a temple like this has to offer. The Borobudur temple is part of a beautiful landscape, which makes taking really good photographs possible.
Which ancient Asian temple do you think is the most beautiful? I appreciate your comments either here or on Don’t Worry Just Travel’s Facebook page, where I’d also welcome your “Likes”!
When you visit the temple, make sure to walk around one of the many terraces and pay attention to the detailed frescos. To your surprise you’ll find yourself almost by yourself again. Most people don’t look at the many little works of art properly. The visitor enters the temple on the east side and leaves it on the north side. There are five terraces on the way up the highest platform, all of which can be scaled on foot.
Borobudur’s history: The temple was erected in five phases from 780 to 833 A.D. Its construction was initiated by the contemporary ruler Samaratungga. The temple was built for the worship of Mahayana Buddhism. Apart from that, not much else is known about the purpose of the temple, since only little written evidence exists. Borobudur was covered by ash and vegetation for a long time, and was only uncovered in 1835, and it was last renovated extensively in the seventies and eighties. A further description of the temple, its architecture with all its statues, shapes and their respective purposes can be found on Wikipedia.
Borobudur seen from the north exit.
One of the temple’s five terraces
Fresco from one of the temple terraces
Following are four images of the top platform. The combination of the temple’s beauty and the beauty of the surroundings is impressive:
In one case the ravages of time have provided the answer to the question, what might be below the little mesh-like pagodas. In the background you can see the main pagoda.
Here I picture the following dialogue among the restorers of the early eighties: “Boss, what are we supposed to do with all the stones where we don’t know where they belong?” Answer: “Find a few interns, have them aligned in the garden and make sure to number them.”
In Borobudur’s vicinity there are two further temples worth seeing:
The Pawon temple was built during the same period as Borobudur. Its name means “place for the keeping of the ashes”.
The Mendut temple was also built at the same time as the Borobudur. Three well-preserved Buddha statues are kept inside its inner room.
For your travel planning
There are buses that go to Borobudur from Yogyakarta. Every hostel or hotel can give you directions to the bus station.
I had settled on a car with driver from Yogyakarta for the day again, since I also wanted to see the Gunung Merapi. A car also offers the advantage of being able to see the Pawon and Mendut temple without much extra effort.
In this article I have outlined near the bottom why one should go for a car with driver in Java.
The admission fee for the Borobudur temple for foreigners is very expensive for Java and comes to about 20 USD. For the other two temples, the entrance fee is about 2 USD each.