Few people passing through Jogjakarta would turn down the opportunity to visit one of the oldest and most spectacular Buddhist monuments in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Situated near the unassuming village of Magelang, Central Java and nestled between two twin volcanoes, Borobodur was built in the ninth century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, and is modern-day Indonesia’s most popular tourist attraction.
There is no record of who built Borobodur, or why. Adding to its mysterious charm is the fact that it lay abandoned, hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle until it was discovered under British administration in the early 19th century. Having undergone a full-scale, 30 year restoration process before being declared a World Heritage Site in 1991, its popularity has increased enormously and you can expect to find a throng of both local and international tourists scaling it’s magnificent steps.
Starting at the base of the temple, you can work your way up three levels of cosmology, from Kamadhatu, the world of desire, through Rupadhatu, the world of forms, finally emerging at Arupadhatu, the world of formlessness. It is here you can find the resting place of 72 Buddha’s enclosed within their stupa (burial mounds), serenely watching the horizon.
The view from Borobodur is nothing less than stunning, and if you can handle the early wake up call, a sunrise visit is definitely recommended. No matter what time of day, however, this amazing monument is one of the few, massively popular tourists attractions that despite crawling with visitors, manages to retain all of its original beauty, charm and awe.