Borobudur Temple

Posted on January 6, 2018
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Today Borobudur is Indonesia’s number one tourist destination, and with that brings concern for the integrity of the complex. Since late 2014, wooden stairs have covered the stone surfaces to avoid erosion. In the past it was possible to reach through one of the latticed stupas to touch a “lucky Buddha”, but this practice has been stopped to avoid damage to the sculpture. As tempting as it may be, please don’t touch any of the reliefs or other sculptures when you visit.

This iconic and astounding site is rightly counted amongst the top destinations, not just on Java but in the whole of Southeast Asia. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and dates from the 9th Century. The mammoth construction rises from the beautiful, green rice fields like something from another world. It is the epicentre of Buddhist life on the island and several monasteries can also be found nearby. Borobudur is a popular tourist destination and yet it retains a mystery and spiritual aura that must be felt to be believed.

Entry fee for Indonesians is IDR 30,000, and kids aged four to ten is IDR 15,000. Sunrise entry at 04:30 is available for IDR 400,000 / IDR 200,000 kids and discounted for guests of Manohara Hotel for 250,000 rupiah / 125,000 rupiah for kids. Sunrise entry for Indonesians is 270,000 rupiah / 135,000 rupiah. Sunrise entry fees include hire of a torch, a snack and tea and coffee.

Entry fee for foreign tourists (over 10 years old) is US$20, while students with a valid international student card and kids under ten are US$10. A combo ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan, valid for two days, is an excellent deal if you plan to visit both temples. It costs US$32, or US$16 for students and kids under 10.

Daily open ( 7/7) Monday –Sunday : 06:00 – 17:00 local time

Photo: Sally Arnold

On first impressions, the rather squat grey mass of volcanic stone that makes up Borobudur may not seem as impressive as other towering structures—the temple has no chambers you can enter. Instead, the massive complex envelops a small hill, which when viewed from above follows the form of a giant mandala.The lower, almost-square-shaped base stretches approximately 120 metres each side, topped by six concentric square terraces decorated with 2,672 exquisitely carved relief panels and 504 Buddha sculptures, leading to an upper trio of circular-shaped levels topped with 72 bell-like stupas, culminating with a large dome at the centre. By walking the ancient pilgrims’ path, roughly five kilometres clockwise around each level, past the lower galleries with images of “desire” to the levels of the teachings and life of Buddha, and finally to the realm of “nothingness”, you can appreciate the sheer splendour of this antiquity, the world’s largest Buddhist monument.

Little is known of Borobudur’s ancient history, and some archaeologists speculate that the site may predate Buddhism and perhaps have had earlier Hindu or even early Javanese religious significance. It is believed construction of Borobudur began about 760 AD during the peak of the Shailendra dynasty, advocates of Mahayana Buddhism, and evolved through several phases over some 70 years. There is some confusion over the prevailing Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms ruling central Java at this time, as to whether they lived a peaceful coexistence or were rivals. Nearby Hindu Prambanan temple was constructed during a similar period, and significant Hindu and Buddhist influence can be seen in both.

Within a century of its completion, Borobodur was abandoned. While the reasons remain unclear, contributing factors may have been a series of volcanic eruptions and a shift of power towards East Java (with the former perhaps influencing the latter). For centuries, Borobudur lay almost forgotten, buried in volcanic ash and consumed by jungle, fading to the realm of folktale, until the early 19th century when those stories reached the ears of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of British Java, and more famously, later founder of Singapore.

With piqued interest, Raffles sent H.C. Cornelius, a Dutch engineer (along with a bunch of locals who knew of its whereabouts), and the monument was bought to world attention though Raffles’ book, The History of Java. The site became a source for treasure hunters, and many sculptures were looted or even used for local building materials. Notably in 1896, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam visited Java and removed a number of artefacts now on display in the National Museum in Bangkok.

At the time of its rediscovery, Borobudur was in a poor state, but has since been preserved through several restorations. During one of the renovation projects, a series of hidden reliefs was discovered buried below the visible base. These panels bear short inscriptions, possibly instructions for the sculptors, and depict “karmic law”. The sculptures were photographed before the renovation continued when they were rehidden by stones to support the structure. Today the photographs are on display in the Museum Karmawibhangga, within the complex. The largest reconstruction project, taking almost ten years, commenced in 1973 when UNESCO and the Indonesian government undertook a mammoth effort that involved totally dismantling Borobudur to stabilise the foundations, after which the monument was eventually granted World Heritage status.

Borobudur has faced threats from both terrorism and nature with bombings by an Islamic extremist group in the mid 1980s as well as more recent threats by ISIS in 2014. The latter incident has resulted in greater security at the monument. While the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake left Borobudur unscathed, a number the eruptions of Mount Merapi resulted in a potentially damaging coverage of a thick blanket of acidic volcanic ash, so the temple was closed for the ensuing cleanup.

Today Borobudur is Indonesia’s number one tourist destination, and with that brings concern for the integrity of the complex. Since late 2014, wooden stairs have covered the stone surfaces to avoid erosion. In the past it was possible to reach through one of the latticed stupas to touch a “lucky Buddha”, but this practice has been stopped to avoid damage to the sculpture. As tempting as it may be, please don’t touch any of the reliefs or other sculptures when you visit. ( source: https://www.travelfish.org/ )

PT. Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan & Ratu Boko
Jalan Raya Jogya – Solo Km 16 Prambanan Sleman,
Yogyakarta 55571, Indonesia
Phone: +62 274 496 402 / +62 274 496 406
Fax: +62 274 496 404
Email: info@borobudurpark.co.id

Branch Office
Gedung Sarinah, Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 11 Lt. 12 Jakarta 10350, Indonesia
Phone : +62 21 39832154
Email : jakarta@borobudurpark.co.id

Borobudur is in Magelang, 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta. The journey takes about one and a half hours by car, slightly longer by public bus.

Public buses (Cemera Tunggal and Ragil Kuning) from Jombor terminal in the north of the city leave regularly to Borobudur between 06:00 and 16:00, and cost 30,000 rupiah (1.5 hours). TransJogja buses will link you to Jombor terminal via routes 2A (sky blue) and 2B (green) (3,600 rupiah), you may have to connect to these routes via another TransJogja route. The last bus back from Borobudur leaves at 16:00. Borobudur terminal is a 10-minute walk from the temple complex, or becaks and taxis will be willing and waiting to transport you.

Alternatively you can catch a Cemera Tunggal bus from Giwangan terminal in the south of the city (2 hours), although these leave less regularly and only operate 08:00 to 15:00. TransJogja links to Giwangan terminal via routes 3A (yellow), 3B (red), 4A (purple) and 4B (orange).

Entry to the bus terminals is 500 rupiah (you wondered what those coins were for).

Travel agents in Yogyakarta offer a door-to-to minibus service leaving at set times (usually 05:00) starting at 75,000 rupiah return. A combo trip with Prambanan is 100,000 rupiah.

If you’d prefer a little more freedom, a car with driver (return) will set you back around 500,000 rupiah or a motorbike taxi around 200,000 rupiah.

Entry fee for Indonesians is IDR 30,000, and kids aged four to ten is IDR 15,000. Sunrise entry at 04:30 is available for IDR 400,000 / IDR 200,000 kids and discounted for guests of Manohara Hotel for 250,000 rupiah / 125,000 rupiah for kids. Sunrise entry for Indonesians is 270,000 rupiah / 135,000 rupiah. Sunrise entry fees include hire of a torch, a snack and tea and coffee.

Entry fee for foreign tourists (over 10 years old) is US$20, while students with a valid international student card and kids under ten are US$10. A combo ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan, valid for two days, is an excellent deal if you plan to visit both temples. It costs US$32, or US$16 for students and kids under 10.

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