Monday, 25 November 2013

Yogyakarta - Breathtaking Borobudur

40km north of Yogyakarta city is the renown UNESCO world heritage site - Borobudur. It is one of those places that you must experience in person- no amount of photos (instagrams), panoramas or videos will be able to capture the awe and beauty of the largest Buddhist monument.

Galen and I opted for the car and driver package available at Tigalima Homestay. We had the car and driver all to ourselves for IDR 400,000. It was all worth while for we did not have to worry about being lost and not being able to communicate, plus the roads in Yogyakarta is nothing like Singapore. Really. There are no major flyovers or expressway- the entire 45 minutes drive to Borobudur were via small roads that brought us through houses, markets, vast fields. The terrain up the mountain overlooking Borobudur was borderline life-threatening; I was amazed at how Galen remained sound asleep when the driver negotiated the steep slopes. We arrived just as the sky was lighting up, and we had to climb for about 10 minutes before reaching the viewing plateau.

Borobudur Sunrise

Borobudur Sunrise Upclose

There, there. View from afar. Can you spot the highest and main dome of the Borobudur?

Borobudur Sunrise Sky

The sunrise was creating candy floss in the sky. Whimsical and light, the clouds instantly perked me up although it was barely 5am in the morning. We stayed on the viewing plateau for 15 minutes before the descend down followed by a short 10 minute drive to the Borobudur temple itself.

Borobudur Tickets

The entrance fee to Borobudur is IDR190,000 for foreigners; an astronomical amount compared to the mere IDR30,000 for Indonesians. Well, the Indonesian government played their cards right, of course we would pay (whatever it takes) to see the Borobudur right? It's precisely the reason why all of us flew to Yogyakarta! And as if to sweeten the deal, we were given mineral water and free flow hot coffee and tea at the visitor center. I did not pay IDR190,000 to drink watered down beverages so I whisked Galen into the compound after putting on our sarongs. Lovely, lovely design of the Borobudur on the sarong, I was this close to, umm, owning an extra souvenir.

Borobudur How-to

Galen loves to read signs. Signboards, posters, bulletins and whatnots. Thanks to him, we entered Borobudur in the right manner- through the East entrance, and then clockwise around each level of stupa. It irked him terribly when we saw people walking in the opposite direction and coming straight at us. "Why don't they know/ why didn't they read the signboard?" Hmm Galen, most people usually don't read signs. Really.

Borobudur temple

We decided to climb all the way up and make our way down from the main dome. There are 9 levels in total- 6 squares platforms followed by 3 circular platforms.

Borobudur Main Dome

Borobudur Stupas

The main dome is surrounded by 72 stupas that house a buddha statue each. Many of these buddha statues have been stolen, lest a few.

Borobudur Buddha Statues

Borobudur Buddha

Borobudur Stupas

Borobodur took my breath away. And my spirit. And my soul. I could stay there forever-weaving through the stupas, enjoying the crisp and cooling morning, immersing in the tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. Time stood still and for once I could feel- eternity.

Borobudur Buddha

Borobudur Buddha

Borobudur Buddha

We descended level by level, walking in a clockwise direction. The entire route took us around 2 hours- we walked slowly, examining the carved wall reliefs and having a little creative exercise as we thought and talked about the teachings behind them.

The stone carvings recount the life story and teaching of Buddha, and also daily happening and observations. This included a ship full of caucasians. It was like a 2D history textbook. The creativity and workmanship of the artisans were really admirable.

Candi Borobudur

Borobudur is magnificent and majestic, yet simple and serene. The steps up to the main dome signify Buddha's journey and attainment of Nirvana. In this current era, it still promises us our Nirvana.


  1. love this post. your prose and photos capture something essential. thank you

    1. Hi Susan, thanks for your lovely encouragement! I'm really glad you've been enjoying my photos and writing. Cheers!

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