Borobudur: For Buddah
Buddah overlooks the green rolling hills in Central Java. The Buddhist Borobudur temple is the most visited tourist site in all of Indonesia and I was in awe of the size of the temple and the amount of reliefs. The Merapi volcano explosion in 2010 damaged Borobudur so tourism went down a bit which explains Richard Gere’s recent visit. Borobudur, like Prambanan, fell into disrepair and it was Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, colonial overlord, who found out about the temple’s location and then conservation efforts began.
In case you were wondering about how big this temple really is, this should give you an idea and also show you the layer design:
As a sign of respect, visitors wear sarongs – both men and women, although not everyone opts to do this. There were a lot of visitors on the day that I went and I imagine that Borobudur is crowed on most days.
According to Wikipedia, the temple features 504 Buddah statues and 2,672 relief panels that tell the life story of Buddah.
The panels are incredibly beautiful and intricate and I imagine that people who study these kinds of things could spend years at the temple examining each one.
Some have started to fade, but I find something oddly beautiful about that too:
This panel tells part of the story of Buddah’s education, note the trees symbolizing wisdom:
At the top of the temple are stupas. Inside each one, except for the main one from what I gathered, are Buddahs sitting in the lotus position. My teacher told me that before the area was closed off, people would reach their hands inside and if they could touch the Buddah then they would have good luck.
A few of the stupas have been left uncovered:
The steps at this temple were incredibly steep, which made me wonder if the restoration math was a bit off?
Ash from the volcano damaged the temple and workers today are still restoring and cleaning parts. And on a side note, yes, people do wear these kinds of hats in Asia. With the ridiculously hot sun, they make total sense. Driving in the country side I could see the hats poking out of rice fields.
On the drive back, we spotted other temples that were built close by. Temples dot the landscape here.
The ash from Merapi is still being removed in some areas, although it was left in certain areas and tour buses pull over for people to see:
There are statue stores all along the road to the temple because the volcanic stone is used to carve with:
And on this hill sits a Chinese cemetery. The Chinese were (difficult to say if they still are) a discriminated minority group in Indonesia. Today, from what people have told me, the stereotypical and in some cases true view is that Chinese are very wealthy and own many businesses.
It’s my second full day in Jakarta today and my God is it different from Jogja. It makes Jogja seem more like a town even though about 1 million people live there.