We visited Borobudur today (Oct 2014), and what an impressive sight it is. I think it will get a well-deserved entry in my ‘Top Ten Temples’ list. When I write it.
We opted for the sunrise tour. Or at least I thought we did. We were being picked up at 5am, which I knew would be too late for sunrise here in Yogyakarta, but didn’t argue. Being so close to the equator, sunrise and sunset only takes about 30 mins. The call to prayer coming from the mosque RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO MY BED informed me that sunrise was well on it’s way, long before 5 am. The long lingering summer sunsets you get in England or Scotland are a distant memory now. It’s almost equal parts night and day here in Indonesia. Sunrise and sunset is done and dusted in not much more than 30 mins…but I digress.
It’s very civilised here. Entry included a cup of tea or coffee on arrival, as well as a loan of a sarong that everyone must wear. We entered the site around 6am and it was mercifully ‘cool’. Probably ‘only’ 23 degrees and there weren’t too many people here. All that was to change as the day wore on and not long before we left around 9am a large party of school children arrived, as well as more visitors.
We enjoyed walking around and up and down the huge, high temple. There are over 2500 reliefs and each one tells a story in its own right.
Like Prambanan it was built around the 9th Century, except it’s a Buddhist temple. When Indonesia moved to Islam it was left alone. Over the centuries it was damaged by natural, and some not so natural, disasters. Including being bombed in the 1980s. In August 2014 security was tightened due to specific threats by ISIS regarding the site. It’s a magnificent structure and in its heyday must have been quite a spectacle – it still is.
It has six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, this are where the stupor are.
Borobudur contains just over 500 buddha statues. Sadly some have lost their heads, broken or raided. I understand one is in a museum in Amsterdam.
There is a museum on site, but it lacked a bit in curation and items needed further information, but was interesting nonetheless. The Ship museum, also on site, was a bit confusing but we understood in the end what it was about. A replica of the ship that is carved in a bas relief was made and sailed, in order to prove that long distance trade could have taken occurred. The replica ship eventually found its way to the museum. And it’s quite a beauty. I emailed some photos to my dad later that evening and coincidently he was reading a chapter in a book that mentioned the ship. Spooky.