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Borobudur

Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia dating from the 8th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of world's truly great ancient monuments, the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, and few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale of place, and the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Set as it is in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of mighty active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama.

History

There is no definite written record of who built Borobudur or why it was built. It was likely founded as a religious site in the 8th century at the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. The construction is thought to have taken a period of 75 years, and completed in about 825 A.D.

The haphazard jumble of Hinduism and Buddhism from this period in Java's history can be baffling for visitors. Together with the records of many royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were constructed in the region at this time. For example, Borobudur and the nearby Hindu Prambanan temple complex were more or less contemporaneous. This, together with many records of royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, has led academics to believe that there was little serious conflict concerning religion in central Java at this time.

Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned, although the popular theories are that the local population just became disinterested when there were mass conversions to Islam in the 15th century, or they were simply driven away by a large volcanic eruption. It was never forgotten entirely though, with local folklore ensuring that stories of the great monument lived on.

Rediscovery

Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The British governor was Thomas Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore), and he took a great practical and academic interest in the history of the mystical island of Java. On a tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a huge ‘lost’ monument deep in the jungles near Yogyakarta, and he sent a Dutch engineer to investigate. It took two months to clear the jungle and partially reveal the amazing monument, but it was not until 1885 that the complex was unearthed in its magnificent entirety. Raffles also presided over the re-discovery of nearby Prambanan, and it is somewhat ironic that the very brief British rule of Java led to the uncovering of both these ancient monuments.

Appreciation and protection was surprisingly slow to develop, and Borobudur became the domain of unscrupulous souvenir hunters. Modern-day archaeologists speculate that this was due to the European obsession with Ancient Egypt at the time — Borobudur was just too remote and too far away to get the attention it undoubtedly deserved. There was even a Dutch proposal to dismantle the monument and scatter it piece-by-piece to museums around the world. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and by the end of the 19th century the site was left largely intact, and a five year restoration programme was undertaken in 1907.

Modern day Borobudur

In 1956 UNESCO began an assessment process for the full scale restoration of the monument. Finally in 1968, a major plan to restore Borobudur was created, and this huge project involved a complete overhaul of the monument up until 1983. The unsteady foundations were stabilized, everything was meticulously cleaned and a major drainage system installed. After the works were finished, UNESCO formally listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Since then, the profile of Borobudur has increased enormously, and it is now a major international tourist attraction. Its statues, reliefs and stupas have spawned millions of replicas which adorn properties worldwide.

This huge popularity has its downsides. Both deliberate vandalism and general wear and tear are of great concern for the future integrity of the monument. Pleas for visitors not to touch anything are made in the form of signs, by broadcast warnings, and by the presence of guards, but this does not stop the problem. Many have called for the monument to be closed to casual visitors, and for access to be only via timed guided tours.

As well as being the single most popular tourist attraction in modern day Indonesia, Borobudur has resumed its role as an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Indonesian Buddhists. Visitors should be understanding and respectful of this, especially during major Buddhist holiday periods.

The 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which badly damaged nearby Prambanan, left Borobudur unscathed.

The 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi

Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 km (17.5 mi) west-southwest of the crater. During the strong eruption of 3-5 November for example, a layer of ash up to 2.5 cm (1 in) thick fell onto the temple. This also killed nearby vegetation. Experts feared that the acidic ash might severely damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5-9 November 2010 to clean up that ash-fall, and the upper levels remained closed to the public until late September 2011. Upon reopening the upper levels, the Borobudur Conservation Agency announced that visitor numbers to those levels were restricted to under 82 people.

UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of rehabilitation costs to rid the temple's stones of volcanic sediment, then to plant trees to stabilise temperatures, and finally to support the living conditions of local residents. More than 55,000 stone blocks from the temple structure had to be dismantled to enable restoration of the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after rains. This restoration programme is predicted to be finished in November 2011.

Orientation

Borobudur lies in the Kedu Plain - a very fertile volcanic plain between the twin volcanoes of Mount Sumbing and Mount Sundoro to the west, and Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi to the east.

Information office

  • PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko, Borobudur Temple Unit Office, Jl Badrawati, Borobudur,  +62 293 788266, e-mail: borobudur@borobudurpark.co.id. 6AM-6PM daily. The official government park authority for Borobudur.

Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia dating from the 8th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of world's truly great ancient monuments, the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, and few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale of place, and the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Set as it is in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of mighty active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama.

History

There is no definite written record of who built Borobudur or why it was built. It was likely founded as a religious site in the 8th century at the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. The construction is thought to have taken a period of 75 years, and completed in about 825 A.D.

The haphazard jumble of Hinduism and Buddhism from this period in Java's history can be baffling for visitors. Together with the records of many royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were constructed in the region at this time. For example, Borobudur and the nearby Hindu Prambanan temple complex were more or less contemporaneous. This, together with many records of royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, has led academics to believe that there was little serious conflict concerning religion in central Java at this time.

Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned, although the popular theories are that the local population just became disinterested when there were mass conversions to Islam in the 15th century, or they were simply driven away by a large volcanic eruption. It was never forgotten entirely though, with local folklore ensuring that stories of the great monument lived on.

Rediscovery

Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The British governor was Thomas Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore), and he took a great practical and academic interest in the history of the mystical island of Java. On a tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a huge ‘lost’ monument deep in the jungles near Yogyakarta, and he sent a Dutch engineer to investigate. It took two months to clear the jungle and partially reveal the amazing monument, but it was not until 1885 that the complex was unearthed in its magnificent entirety. Raffles also presided over the re-discovery of nearby Prambanan, and it is somewhat ironic that the very brief British rule of Java led to the uncovering of both these ancient monuments.

Appreciation and protection was surprisingly slow to develop, and Borobudur became the domain of unscrupulous souvenir hunters. Modern-day archaeologists speculate that this was due to the European obsession with Ancient Egypt at the time — Borobudur was just too remote and too far away to get the attention it undoubtedly deserved. There was even a Dutch proposal to dismantle the monument and scatter it piece-by-piece to museums around the world. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and by the end of the 19th century the site was left largely intact, and a five year restoration programme was undertaken in 1907.

Modern day Borobudur

In 1956 UNESCO began an assessment process for the full scale restoration of the monument. Finally in 1968, a major plan to restore Borobudur was created, and this huge project involved a complete overhaul of the monument up until 1983. The unsteady foundations were stabilized, everything was meticulously cleaned and a major drainage system installed. After the works were finished, UNESCO formally listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Since then, the profile of Borobudur has increased enormously, and it is now a major international tourist attraction. Its statues, reliefs and stupas have spawned millions of replicas which adorn properties worldwide.

This huge popularity has its downsides. Both deliberate vandalism and general wear and tear are of great concern for the future integrity of the monument. Pleas for visitors not to touch anything are made in the form of signs, by broadcast warnings, and by the presence of guards, but this does not stop the problem. Many have called for the monument to be closed to casual visitors, and for access to be only via timed guided tours.

As well as being the single most popular tourist attraction in modern day Indonesia, Borobudur has resumed its role as an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Indonesian Buddhists. Visitors should be understanding and respectful of this, especially during major Buddhist holiday periods.

The 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which badly damaged nearby Prambanan, left Borobudur unscathed.

The 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi

Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 km (17.5 mi) west-southwest of the crater. During the strong eruption of 3-5 November for example, a layer of ash up to 2.5 cm (1 in) thick fell onto the temple. This also killed nearby vegetation. Experts feared that the acidic ash might severely damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5-9 November 2010 to clean up that ash-fall, and the upper levels remained closed to the public until late September 2011. Upon reopening the upper levels, the Borobudur Conservation Agency announced that visitor numbers to those levels were restricted to under 82 people.

UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of rehabilitation costs to rid the temple's stones of volcanic sediment, then to plant trees to stabilise temperatures, and finally to support the living conditions of local residents. More than 55,000 stone blocks from the temple structure had to be dismantled to enable restoration of the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after rains. This restoration programme is predicted to be finished in November 2011.

Orientation

Borobudur lies in the Kedu Plain - a very fertile volcanic plain between the twin volcanoes of Mount Sumbing and Mount Sundoro to the west, and Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi to the east.

Information office

  • PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko, Borobudur Temple Unit Office, Jl Badrawati, Borobudur,  +62 293 788266, e-mail: borobudur@borobudurpark.co.id. 6AM-6PM daily. The official government park authority for Borobudur.

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Buy

Persistent touts hassle tourists on the approaches to the temple but are usually kept away from the temple itself. Be firm and polite about your intentions and they will soon get the message. Be careful when you exit the temple as there are confusing signs pointing to exit gates which lead you through a maze of stalls. If you want to avoid the maze of handycraft stall, do not turn left and follow the nearest exit sign, just move straight forward to the exit located nearest to the entrance.

If you do intend to buy some souvenirs here then make sure your bargaining skills are at their best. Pedlars sell small statues that they claim are carved from lava stone, but most are cast coloured cement. Identifying genuine lava stone is easy enough as the stone is quite light for its size compared to the weightier concrete. Nonetheless, if a concrete Buddha head will suffice you should not pay more than Rp 20.000. Their first offer is around Rp 150.000. Just tell them, that you already bought for Rp 20.000 and they will give you this price. An authentic lava stone version carved by a skilled craftsman will cost, and be worth, considerably more.

Should you be in need of cash, there is a Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) ATM close to the main park entrance.

Muntilan

Muntilan is a market town on the main route from Yogyakarta to Borobudur, and it has developed as a leading manufacturing centre of carved stone Borobudur replicas. If you are thinking of buying a stone Buddha, stupa or wall relief, this should be your port of call.

Muntilan is 13-14 km (8.5 mi) back towards Yogyakarta from Borobudur on the main road (Jalan Magelang). You cannot fail to find it.

Buy

Persistent touts hassle tourists on the approaches to the temple but are usually kept away from the temple itself. Be firm and polite about your intentions and they will soon get the message. Be careful when you exit the temple as there are confusing signs pointing to exit gates which lead you through a maze of stalls. If you want to avoid the maze of handycraft stall, do not turn left and follow the nearest exit sign, just move straight forward to the exit located nearest to the entrance.

If you do intend to buy some souvenirs here then make sure your bargaining skills are at their best. Pedlars sell small statues that they claim are carved from lava stone, but most are cast coloured cement. Identifying genuine lava stone is easy enough as the stone is quite light for its size compared to the weightier concrete. Nonetheless, if a concrete Buddha head will suffice you should not pay more than Rp 20.000. Their first offer is around Rp 150.000. Just tell them, that you already bought for Rp 20.000 and they will give you this price. An authentic lava stone version carved by a skilled craftsman will cost, and be worth, considerably more.

Should you be in need of cash, there is a Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) ATM close to the main park entrance.

Muntilan

Muntilan is a market town on the main route from Yogyakarta to Borobudur, and it has developed as a leading manufacturing centre of carved stone Borobudur replicas. If you are thinking of buying a stone Buddha, stupa or wall relief, this should be your port of call.

Muntilan is 13-14 km (8.5 mi) back towards Yogyakarta from Borobudur on the main road (Jalan Magelang). You cannot fail to find it.

Do

If you are still at Borobudur in the late afternoon, return to the top level for sunset. It is often very quiet at this time, and the sunset behind the mountains to the west is scenic.

Festivals

  • On Waisak, Buddha's birthday (held on the night of the full moon in May), an elaborate and colourful multi-day Buddhist festival is held at Borobudur, culminating in a candle-lit procession from Candi Mendut to Borobudur. If you are lucky enough to be visiting at this time, the procession is magical event to witness. At other times, just walking the Waisak procession route from Borobudur to Candi Mendut (or vice versa) is an excellent experience.
  • Every June, the park authority arranges a performance of the Mahakarya Borobudur. This ballet uses traditional Javanese dance to tell the story of the conception and construction of the temple. The event takes place at the Aksobya open theatre against the backdrop of Borobudur, and is a lavish production. Tickets Rp 300,000-800,000.

Do

If you are still at Borobudur in the late afternoon, return to the top level for sunset. It is often very quiet at this time, and the sunset behind the mountains to the west is scenic.

Festivals

  • On Waisak, Buddha's birthday (held on the night of the full moon in May), an elaborate and colourful multi-day Buddhist festival is held at Borobudur, culminating in a candle-lit procession from Candi Mendut to Borobudur. If you are lucky enough to be visiting at this time, the procession is magical event to witness. At other times, just walking the Waisak procession route from Borobudur to Candi Mendut (or vice versa) is an excellent experience.
  • Every June, the park authority arranges a performance of the Mahakarya Borobudur. This ballet uses traditional Javanese dance to tell the story of the conception and construction of the temple. The event takes place at the Aksobya open theatre against the backdrop of Borobudur, and is a lavish production. Tickets Rp 300,000-800,000.

See

Entrance fees

Entry into Borobudur costs:

  • US$20/Rp 190,000 for adult non-Indonesians.
  • US$11/Rp 104,000 for non-Indonesian registered students (proof, e.g. ISIC, is required).
  • Rp 15,000 on weekdays and Rp 17,500 at weekends for Indonesian adults or foreign holders of an Indonesian work permit.

The site is open to public entrance from 6AM-5PM. However, the Manohara Hotel (see Sleep) runs a daily Borobudur Sunrise Tour for Rp 320,000 for foreigners (Rp 185,000 if you are a hotel guest) and Rp 220,000 for Indonesians, which gets you a flashlight and a lift up to the temple gate at 4:30AM. This is in time to see the sunrise, and to explore for an hour and a half before the hordes arrive. This is well worth the money. The sun rises in the same direction as the entrance you used to gain access to the temple. The top few levels offer a great view wherever you position yourself. If you're so inclined, grab a private spot facing East and enjoy your own precious few minutes of reflection (or photography).

Hiring a guide who can explain the reliefs in some detail costs Rp 75,000-100,000 per hour. Some guides may insist on a minimum time of two hours. You should ask for a guide in the evening before going to tour in the morning. It is also perfectly possible to roll up and find a guide available, it all depends on how busy the site is. Guides speaking European languages other than English may be available.

In April 2011 it was announced that to assist in the ongoing preservation of the temple, future visitors would be required to view the temple in groups of no more than 30 persons and must be accompanied by Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur (TWCB) staff members.

Visitors are required to wear a sarong whilst visiting the temple, although the rule doesn't appear to be strictly enforced. If you do not bring your own, then one is provided free with the entrance ticket. These are available at a post located at the bottom of the temple entrance stairs, and should be returned before leaving at an exit post.

The main site is approached through a large open and pleasant park inside the complex.

The monument

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with no less than 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues of various types. The main dome, located at the centre of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The square base is 118 m (387 ft) long on each side, and the highest point 35 m (114 ft) above ground level.

The whole monument is constructed from dark grey andesite stone, and so synonymous has this become with Borobudur and other temples on the Kedu Plain, that Indonesian for the material is simply batu candi (temple stone).

Climbing the structure takes a little bit of effort, and the dark stone absorbs the sun's heat rapidly to make walking and climbing quite hot work by early afternoon. If you have but modest stamina or heat tolerance, you should start as early in the day as possible, and take plenty of water with you. Some free bottled water and coffee usually comes with the ticket for international visitors.

The single stupendously large structure can be divided into layers as follows:

  • The platform or foot at the base of the structure, which was clearly post the original construction and hides some reliefs, is of uncertain provenance and function. The main theories are that the platform was added to censor reliefs depicting earthly desires or — rather more likely — to buttress the subsiding structure and prevent it from collapsing. A section of the platform has been excavated at the southeast corner, showcasing some of the hidden reliefs underneath.
  • The bulk of the structure consists of six square terraces connected by steep staircases. Each terrace has reliefs in two layers on both sides, recounting the story of the Buddha's past lives and his enlightenment. The correct way to view the reliefs is to start from the east gate (the main entrance) and circulate clockwise.
  • Above the square terraces, the structure suddenly opens up to reveal the final three circular terraces. Comparatively plain and unadorned, there are no more reliefs here just seventy two lattice work stupas — domes housing half-hidden Buddha statues (many headless, some lost entirely). A bombing some years ago destroyed nine of them, but they have been well restored.
  • The peak of the structure is a central stupa. The two chambers inside the stupa are empty, and it is unclear whether they were empty from the beginning as a representation of nirvana, or whether they originally contained statues which were looted or lost. The site museum contains what might be a missing statue.

The monument's three divisions (the square terraces and central stupa at the peak are regarded as one division) symbolise the three realms of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and finally Arupadhatu (the formless world).

There are six different postures of Buddha's statue from the bottom level to the top. These are contact with earth, giving and helping, meditation, fearlesness, teach and learn, and finally turning the wheel of dharma.

The wall reliefs

You can think of Borobudur as a very large teaching graphic recounting the life story of the Buddha, his teachings and his progress towards Nirvana. If you want to truly understand the reliefs, it is best to employ a guide to explain the stories to you.

In summary, the 2,760 reliefs tell four key sets of stories in the form of carved illustrations and Sanskrit inscriptions:

  • The law of karma or Karmavibhangga. These are mostly hidden by the post-original construction masking at the foot of the monument. The reliefs tell stories and give examples of the nature of karma with depictions of both praiseworthy (including co-operative working practices and planned parenthood) and blameworthy (including torture, rape and theft) activities. The masking was disassembled in 1890 before being painstakingly rebuilt, and photographs were taken of the reliefs at this time. These photographs are displayed in the Borobudur Museum.
  • The birth of Buddha or Lalitavistara. Before the story starts, there are 27 panels showing preparations for the final earthly incarnation. The story then begins with the descent of the Lord Buddha from heaven, and continues until his first earthly sermon as Prince Siddhartha.
  • The Jatakas and avadanas. Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha. Avadanas are similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not Buddha himself. Both are depicted in the same series of reliefs.
  • The journeys of Sudhana searching for ultimate truth or Gandavyuha. This is the story told in the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra about Sudhana's tireless wandering in search of the highest perfect wisdom.

The Borobudur Museum

There are two museums located within Borobudur Archaeological Park, the Karmawibhanga Museum and the Samudraraksa Museum. These museums are housed inside the park just a few hundred metres to the north of the temple. These museum ticket are already included within the Borobudur entrance ticket, so visitor are free to enter the museum.

The Samudraraksa Museum display the actual size replica of Borobudur Ship. It also display the maritime technology and trade network of 8th century Asia and Africa, especially the maritime trade of Indian Ocean. In 1982 a British naval history scholar called Philip Beale was visiting Borobudur when he noticed 10 panels depicting ocean-going ships. He surmised that these ships may have been a part of a famous shipping route — the Cinnamon Route — that linked Indonesia to Africa many centuries earlier. This led Beale to build a model ship based on those depictions, and that is now housed in its own dedicated space within the museum.

The Karmawibhanga Museum display archaeological findings around Borobudur, the restoration process, as well as the photographs of Karmawibhanga relief on hidden foot of Borobudur. It does a sometimes haphazard job of presenting the restoration process. Perhaps the most interesting exhibitions about this are those of the law of karma reliefs, with explanatory comments, and the photo gallery of late 19th-century shots of the complex before it was restored.

The museum is open daily 6AM-6PM and entry is included with the main Borobudur ticket.

Around Borobudur

Between Yogyakarta and Magelang lies the volcanic Kedu Plain. This was clearly an important area in pre-10th century Javanese history as it contains a whole host of ruins (both Buddhist and Hindu) dating from the same era as Borobudur, and easily reached from there. If you have a car, the most accessible of these together make an interesting use of the late part of the day on the way back to Yogyakarta after you have seen Borobudur. Alternatively, if you are staying in the Borobudur area, rent a bicycle and explore these temples together with the verdant local countryside.

A combined ticket for entrance to both Candi Mendut and Candi Pawon costs Rp 3500. You should be able to visit any of these in the hours of daylight.

  • Candi Mendut — a Buddhist temple that is thought to have acted as a way-point on the road to Borobudur. It was first discovered in 1834 and holds the distinction of being the first ancient monument in the whole of Indonesia to be restored (from 1897). Some of the statues and reliefs here are of the highest quality, and it is well worth a visit. Mendut is notable as the start of the modern day Waisak procession. From Borobudur head back towards Muntilan on the main road for 3 km (1.8 mi), and Candi Mendut is signposted off a small left hand turn off the main road.
  • Candi Pawon (Branjalan) — is only 2 km (1.25 mi) from Borobudur and you cannot miss driving past it when heading back towards Muntilan and Yogyakarta. It is on a direct line with Borobudur and Mendut and is again thought to have been am ancient way-point. Both Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut are on a perfect straight line with Borobudur. This temple was restored in the early 20th century.
  • Candi Ngawen — is in Ngawen village just to the south of Muntilan on the main road heading towards Yogyakarta, about 15 km (9 mi) from Borobudur. This Buddhist temple dates from 824 AD, and has some interesting wall reliefs.
  • Candi Canggal — dates from the 8th century, and is at Gunung Wukir on the main road heading back towards Yogyakarta from Muntilan. The best landmark is the Chinese cemetery which you should look for on the right after leaving Muntilan. A road leads west (right) just after you pass this cemetery. Follow this until the end and walk the last few minutes to Candi Canggal.

See

Entrance fees

Entry into Borobudur costs:

  • US$20/Rp 190,000 for adult non-Indonesians.
  • US$11/Rp 104,000 for non-Indonesian registered students (proof, e.g. ISIC, is required).
  • Rp 15,000 on weekdays and Rp 17,500 at weekends for Indonesian adults or foreign holders of an Indonesian work permit.

The site is open to public entrance from 6AM-5PM. However, the Manohara Hotel (see Sleep) runs a daily Borobudur Sunrise Tour for Rp 320,000 for foreigners (Rp 185,000 if you are a hotel guest) and Rp 220,000 for Indonesians, which gets you a flashlight and a lift up to the temple gate at 4:30AM. This is in time to see the sunrise, and to explore for an hour and a half before the hordes arrive. This is well worth the money. The sun rises in the same direction as the entrance you used to gain access to the temple. The top few levels offer a great view wherever you position yourself. If you're so inclined, grab a private spot facing East and enjoy your own precious few minutes of reflection (or photography).

Hiring a guide who can explain the reliefs in some detail costs Rp 75,000-100,000 per hour. Some guides may insist on a minimum time of two hours. You should ask for a guide in the evening before going to tour in the morning. It is also perfectly possible to roll up and find a guide available, it all depends on how busy the site is. Guides speaking European languages other than English may be available.

In April 2011 it was announced that to assist in the ongoing preservation of the temple, future visitors would be required to view the temple in groups of no more than 30 persons and must be accompanied by Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur (TWCB) staff members.

Visitors are required to wear a sarong whilst visiting the temple, although the rule doesn't appear to be strictly enforced. If you do not bring your own, then one is provided free with the entrance ticket. These are available at a post located at the bottom of the temple entrance stairs, and should be returned before leaving at an exit post.

The main site is approached through a large open and pleasant park inside the complex.

The monument

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with no less than 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues of various types. The main dome, located at the centre of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The square base is 118 m (387 ft) long on each side, and the highest point 35 m (114 ft) above ground level.

The whole monument is constructed from dark grey andesite stone, and so synonymous has this become with Borobudur and other temples on the Kedu Plain, that Indonesian for the material is simply batu candi (temple stone).

Climbing the structure takes a little bit of effort, and the dark stone absorbs the sun's heat rapidly to make walking and climbing quite hot work by early afternoon. If you have but modest stamina or heat tolerance, you should start as early in the day as possible, and take plenty of water with you. Some free bottled water and coffee usually comes with the ticket for international visitors.

The single stupendously large structure can be divided into layers as follows:

  • The platform or foot at the base of the structure, which was clearly post the original construction and hides some reliefs, is of uncertain provenance and function. The main theories are that the platform was added to censor reliefs depicting earthly desires or — rather more likely — to buttress the subsiding structure and prevent it from collapsing. A section of the platform has been excavated at the southeast corner, showcasing some of the hidden reliefs underneath.
  • The bulk of the structure consists of six square terraces connected by steep staircases. Each terrace has reliefs in two layers on both sides, recounting the story of the Buddha's past lives and his enlightenment. The correct way to view the reliefs is to start from the east gate (the main entrance) and circulate clockwise.
  • Above the square terraces, the structure suddenly opens up to reveal the final three circular terraces. Comparatively plain and unadorned, there are no more reliefs here just seventy two lattice work stupas — domes housing half-hidden Buddha statues (many headless, some lost entirely). A bombing some years ago destroyed nine of them, but they have been well restored.
  • The peak of the structure is a central stupa. The two chambers inside the stupa are empty, and it is unclear whether they were empty from the beginning as a representation of nirvana, or whether they originally contained statues which were looted or lost. The site museum contains what might be a missing statue.

The monument's three divisions (the square terraces and central stupa at the peak are regarded as one division) symbolise the three realms of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and finally Arupadhatu (the formless world).

There are six different postures of Buddha's statue from the bottom level to the top. These are contact with earth, giving and helping, meditation, fearlesness, teach and learn, and finally turning the wheel of dharma.

The wall reliefs

You can think of Borobudur as a very large teaching graphic recounting the life story of the Buddha, his teachings and his progress towards Nirvana. If you want to truly understand the reliefs, it is best to employ a guide to explain the stories to you.

In summary, the 2,760 reliefs tell four key sets of stories in the form of carved illustrations and Sanskrit inscriptions:

  • The law of karma or Karmavibhangga. These are mostly hidden by the post-original construction masking at the foot of the monument. The reliefs tell stories and give examples of the nature of karma with depictions of both praiseworthy (including co-operative working practices and planned parenthood) and blameworthy (including torture, rape and theft) activities. The masking was disassembled in 1890 before being painstakingly rebuilt, and photographs were taken of the reliefs at this time. These photographs are displayed in the Borobudur Museum.
  • The birth of Buddha or Lalitavistara. Before the story starts, there are 27 panels showing preparations for the final earthly incarnation. The story then begins with the descent of the Lord Buddha from heaven, and continues until his first earthly sermon as Prince Siddhartha.
  • The Jatakas and avadanas. Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha. Avadanas are similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not Buddha himself. Both are depicted in the same series of reliefs.
  • The journeys of Sudhana searching for ultimate truth or Gandavyuha. This is the story told in the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra about Sudhana's tireless wandering in search of the highest perfect wisdom.

The Borobudur Museum

There are two museums located within Borobudur Archaeological Park, the Karmawibhanga Museum and the Samudraraksa Museum. These museums are housed inside the park just a few hundred metres to the north of the temple. These museum ticket are already included within the Borobudur entrance ticket, so visitor are free to enter the museum.

The Samudraraksa Museum display the actual size replica of Borobudur Ship. It also display the maritime technology and trade network of 8th century Asia and Africa, especially the maritime trade of Indian Ocean. In 1982 a British naval history scholar called Philip Beale was visiting Borobudur when he noticed 10 panels depicting ocean-going ships. He surmised that these ships may have been a part of a famous shipping route — the Cinnamon Route — that linked Indonesia to Africa many centuries earlier. This led Beale to build a model ship based on those depictions, and that is now housed in its own dedicated space within the museum.

The Karmawibhanga Museum display archaeological findings around Borobudur, the restoration process, as well as the photographs of Karmawibhanga relief on hidden foot of Borobudur. It does a sometimes haphazard job of presenting the restoration process. Perhaps the most interesting exhibitions about this are those of the law of karma reliefs, with explanatory comments, and the photo gallery of late 19th-century shots of the complex before it was restored.

The museum is open daily 6AM-6PM and entry is included with the main Borobudur ticket.

Around Borobudur

Between Yogyakarta and Magelang lies the volcanic Kedu Plain. This was clearly an important area in pre-10th century Javanese history as it contains a whole host of ruins (both Buddhist and Hindu) dating from the same era as Borobudur, and easily reached from there. If you have a car, the most accessible of these together make an interesting use of the late part of the day on the way back to Yogyakarta after you have seen Borobudur. Alternatively, if you are staying in the Borobudur area, rent a bicycle and explore these temples together with the verdant local countryside.

A combined ticket for entrance to both Candi Mendut and Candi Pawon costs Rp 3500. You should be able to visit any of these in the hours of daylight.

  • Candi Mendut — a Buddhist temple that is thought to have acted as a way-point on the road to Borobudur. It was first discovered in 1834 and holds the distinction of being the first ancient monument in the whole of Indonesia to be restored (from 1897). Some of the statues and reliefs here are of the highest quality, and it is well worth a visit. Mendut is notable as the start of the modern day Waisak procession. From Borobudur head back towards Muntilan on the main road for 3 km (1.8 mi), and Candi Mendut is signposted off a small left hand turn off the main road.
  • Candi Pawon (Branjalan) — is only 2 km (1.25 mi) from Borobudur and you cannot miss driving past it when heading back towards Muntilan and Yogyakarta. It is on a direct line with Borobudur and Mendut and is again thought to have been am ancient way-point. Both Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut are on a perfect straight line with Borobudur. This temple was restored in the early 20th century.
  • Candi Ngawen — is in Ngawen village just to the south of Muntilan on the main road heading towards Yogyakarta, about 15 km (9 mi) from Borobudur. This Buddhist temple dates from 824 AD, and has some interesting wall reliefs.
  • Candi Canggal — dates from the 8th century, and is at Gunung Wukir on the main road heading back towards Yogyakarta from Muntilan. The best landmark is the Chinese cemetery which you should look for on the right after leaving Muntilan. A road leads west (right) just after you pass this cemetery. Follow this until the end and walk the last few minutes to Candi Canggal.

Understand

History

There is no definite written record of who built Borobudur or why it was built. It was likely founded as a religious site in the 8th century at the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. The construction is thought to have taken a period of 75 years, and completed in about 825 A.D.

The haphazard jumble of Hinduism and Buddhism from this period in Java's history can be baffling for visitors. Together with the records of many royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were constructed in the region at this time. For example, Borobudur and the nearby Hindu Prambanan temple complex were more or less contemporaneous. This, together with many records of royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, has led academics to believe that there was little serious conflict concerning religion in central Java at this time.

Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned, although the popular theories are that the local population just became disinterested when there were mass conversions to Islam in the 15th century, or they were simply driven away by a large volcanic eruption. It was never forgotten entirely though, with local folklore ensuring that stories of the great monument lived on.

Rediscovery

Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The British governor was Thomas Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore), and he took a great practical and academic interest in the history of the mystical island of Java. On a tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a huge ‘lost’ monument deep in the jungles near Yogyakarta, and he sent a Dutch engineer to investigate. It took two months to clear the jungle and partially reveal the amazing monument, but it was not until 1885 that the complex was unearthed in its magnificent entirety. Raffles also presided over the re-discovery of nearby Prambanan, and it is somewhat ironic that the very brief British rule of Java led to the uncovering of both these ancient monuments.

Appreciation and protection was surprisingly slow to develop, and Borobudur became the domain of unscrupulous souvenir hunters. Modern-day archaeologists speculate that this was due to the European obsession with Ancient Egypt at the time — Borobudur was just too remote and too far away to get the attention it undoubtedly deserved. There was even a Dutch proposal to dismantle the monument and scatter it piece-by-piece to museums around the world. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and by the end of the 19th century the site was left largely intact, and a five year restoration programme was undertaken in 1907.

Modern day Borobudur

In 1956 UNESCO began an assessment process for the full scale restoration of the monument. Finally in 1968, a major plan to restore Borobudur was created, and this huge project involved a complete overhaul of the monument up until 1983. The unsteady foundations were stabilized, everything was meticulously cleaned and a major drainage system installed. After the works were finished, UNESCO formally listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Since then, the profile of Borobudur has increased enormously, and it is now a major international tourist attraction. Its statues, reliefs and stupas have spawned millions of replicas which adorn properties worldwide.

This huge popularity has its downsides. Both deliberate vandalism and general wear and tear are of great concern for the future integrity of the monument. Pleas for visitors not to touch anything are made in the form of signs, by broadcast warnings, and by the presence of guards, but this does not stop the problem. Many have called for the monument to be closed to casual visitors, and for access to be only via timed guided tours.

As well as being the single most popular tourist attraction in modern day Indonesia, Borobudur has resumed its role as an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Indonesian Buddhists. Visitors should be understanding and respectful of this, especially during major Buddhist holiday periods.

The 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which badly damaged nearby Prambanan, left Borobudur unscathed.

The 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi

Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 km (17.5 mi) west-southwest of the crater. During the strong eruption of 3-5 November for example, a layer of ash up to 2.5 cm (1 in) thick fell onto the temple. This also killed nearby vegetation. Experts feared that the acidic ash might severely damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5-9 November 2010 to clean up that ash-fall, and the upper levels remained closed to the public until late September 2011. Upon reopening the upper levels, the Borobudur Conservation Agency announced that visitor numbers to those levels were restricted to under 82 people.

UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of rehabilitation costs to rid the temple's stones of volcanic sediment, then to plant trees to stabilise temperatures, and finally to support the living conditions of local residents. More than 55,000 stone blocks from the temple structure had to be dismantled to enable restoration of the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after rains. This restoration programme is predicted to be finished in November 2011.

Orientation

Borobudur lies in the Kedu Plain - a very fertile volcanic plain between the twin volcanoes of Mount Sumbing and Mount Sundoro to the west, and Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi to the east.

Information office

  • PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko, Borobudur Temple Unit Office, Jl Badrawati, Borobudur,  +62 293 788266, e-mail: borobudur@borobudurpark.co.id. 6AM-6PM daily. The official government park authority for Borobudur.

Understand

History

There is no definite written record of who built Borobudur or why it was built. It was likely founded as a religious site in the 8th century at the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. The construction is thought to have taken a period of 75 years, and completed in about 825 A.D.

The haphazard jumble of Hinduism and Buddhism from this period in Java's history can be baffling for visitors. Together with the records of many royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were constructed in the region at this time. For example, Borobudur and the nearby Hindu Prambanan temple complex were more or less contemporaneous. This, together with many records of royal marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles, has led academics to believe that there was little serious conflict concerning religion in central Java at this time.

Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned, although the popular theories are that the local population just became disinterested when there were mass conversions to Islam in the 15th century, or they were simply driven away by a large volcanic eruption. It was never forgotten entirely though, with local folklore ensuring that stories of the great monument lived on.

Rediscovery

Following the Anglo-Dutch Java War, Java was briefly under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The British governor was Thomas Stamford Raffles (the founder of Singapore), and he took a great practical and academic interest in the history of the mystical island of Java. On a tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a huge ‘lost’ monument deep in the jungles near Yogyakarta, and he sent a Dutch engineer to investigate. It took two months to clear the jungle and partially reveal the amazing monument, but it was not until 1885 that the complex was unearthed in its magnificent entirety. Raffles also presided over the re-discovery of nearby Prambanan, and it is somewhat ironic that the very brief British rule of Java led to the uncovering of both these ancient monuments.

Appreciation and protection was surprisingly slow to develop, and Borobudur became the domain of unscrupulous souvenir hunters. Modern-day archaeologists speculate that this was due to the European obsession with Ancient Egypt at the time — Borobudur was just too remote and too far away to get the attention it undoubtedly deserved. There was even a Dutch proposal to dismantle the monument and scatter it piece-by-piece to museums around the world. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and by the end of the 19th century the site was left largely intact, and a five year restoration programme was undertaken in 1907.

Modern day Borobudur

In 1956 UNESCO began an assessment process for the full scale restoration of the monument. Finally in 1968, a major plan to restore Borobudur was created, and this huge project involved a complete overhaul of the monument up until 1983. The unsteady foundations were stabilized, everything was meticulously cleaned and a major drainage system installed. After the works were finished, UNESCO formally listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991. Since then, the profile of Borobudur has increased enormously, and it is now a major international tourist attraction. Its statues, reliefs and stupas have spawned millions of replicas which adorn properties worldwide.

This huge popularity has its downsides. Both deliberate vandalism and general wear and tear are of great concern for the future integrity of the monument. Pleas for visitors not to touch anything are made in the form of signs, by broadcast warnings, and by the presence of guards, but this does not stop the problem. Many have called for the monument to be closed to casual visitors, and for access to be only via timed guided tours.

As well as being the single most popular tourist attraction in modern day Indonesia, Borobudur has resumed its role as an important place of worship and pilgrimage for Indonesian Buddhists. Visitors should be understanding and respectful of this, especially during major Buddhist holiday periods.

The 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which badly damaged nearby Prambanan, left Borobudur unscathed.

The 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi

Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 km (17.5 mi) west-southwest of the crater. During the strong eruption of 3-5 November for example, a layer of ash up to 2.5 cm (1 in) thick fell onto the temple. This also killed nearby vegetation. Experts feared that the acidic ash might severely damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5-9 November 2010 to clean up that ash-fall, and the upper levels remained closed to the public until late September 2011. Upon reopening the upper levels, the Borobudur Conservation Agency announced that visitor numbers to those levels were restricted to under 82 people.

UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of rehabilitation costs to rid the temple's stones of volcanic sediment, then to plant trees to stabilise temperatures, and finally to support the living conditions of local residents. More than 55,000 stone blocks from the temple structure had to be dismantled to enable restoration of the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after rains. This restoration programme is predicted to be finished in November 2011.

Orientation

Borobudur lies in the Kedu Plain - a very fertile volcanic plain between the twin volcanoes of Mount Sumbing and Mount Sundoro to the west, and Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi to the east.

Information office

  • PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko, Borobudur Temple Unit Office, Jl Badrawati, Borobudur,  +62 293 788266, e-mail: borobudur@borobudurpark.co.id. 6AM-6PM daily. The official government park authority for Borobudur.

Get around

The only practical means of getting around Borobudur is on foot. A toy train of limited practical use shuttles around the temple, and between the museum and entrance gate for Rp 5,000 a throw.

If you are staying in the area, most local hotels and guesthouses will rent bicycles for about Rp 30,000-50,000 per day. This is a good way of exploring the other sights and local villages around Borobudur.

Get around

The only practical means of getting around Borobudur is on foot. A toy train of limited practical use shuttles around the temple, and between the museum and entrance gate for Rp 5,000 a throw.

If you are staying in the area, most local hotels and guesthouses will rent bicycles for about Rp 30,000-50,000 per day. This is a good way of exploring the other sights and local villages around Borobudur.

Go next

  • The Hindu temples of Prambanan, about an hour away by car, make the perfect complement to Borobudur.
  • The cultural splendour of Yogyakarta is about 90 minutes by bus.
  • The Dieng Plateau is a volcanic area in the highlands of Central Java with the oldest standing temples in Indonesia, pre-dating Borobudur by some 100 years. About a 90 minute drive to the northwest.
  • If you want to see a serious volcano, Mount Merapi is about a 2 hour drive to the east.



Go next

  • The Hindu temples of Prambanan, about an hour away by car, make the perfect complement to Borobudur.
  • The cultural splendour of Yogyakarta is about 90 minutes by bus.
  • The Dieng Plateau is a volcanic area in the highlands of Central Java with the oldest standing temples in Indonesia, pre-dating Borobudur by some 100 years. About a 90 minute drive to the northwest.
  • If you want to see a serious volcano, Mount Merapi is about a 2 hour drive to the east.



Get in

By plane

The nearest larger airports are Yogyakarta's Adisucipto International Airport (IATA: JOG) and Solo's Adisumarmo International Airport (IATA: SOC). Both are well connected domestically, and also offer some international connections to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia for example flies from Singapore to Yogyakarta daily.

It is possible, if one rushes oneself a bit, to visit Borobudur on a day trip from Bali or Jakarta. One can also fly direct to Semarang's Achmad Yani International Airport (IATA: SRG) with Batavia Air from Singapore and with Air Asia from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and make your way to Borobudur from there (2-3 hours by road).

By bus

The public buses to Borobudur from Yogyakarta are aimed mostly at Indonesian visitors, and only a few tourists venture aboard. If you are adventurous though, the Trans-Jogya service runs from central Yogyakarta to Jombor bus terminal in northern Yogyakarta, bus 2B/2A (Rp 3,000), where you can change to another bus to get to Borobudur. It takes about 60-90 minutes, and should cost around Rp 10,000-15,000 one way, but bargain with the bus staff to get a good price.

Buses run regularly from Magelang to Borobudur via Muntilan and are widely advertised there. The journey time is about 1 hour.

To get from or to the Hindu temples at Prambanan, take a Yogyakarta bus and get down at Jombor Terminal (90 min, Rp 15,000 for visitors, Rp 7,000 for Indonesians). From Jombor take TransJogya route 2B to Prambanan (45-60 min, Rp 3,000). It will require 3 bus changes: 2B from Jombor to Terminal Condong, 3B from Terminal Condong to Maguwo (Jl. Solo) and 1A/B from Maguwo to Prambanan.

By minibus

Travel agents in Yogyakarta sell door-to-door minibus tour packages for around Rp 75,000. This is a good deal and a straightforward way to reach the monument, although some operators may stop off at batik and silver factories along the route.

By car

Borobudur is about 40 minutes north of Yogyakarta by car. Most of the route is on a well-maintained (for Indonesia) four-lane (in many places) highway, and there are frequent bus services (see above). A taxi from central Yogyakarta to Borobudur costs around Rp 200,000, and from Yogyakarta airport about Rp 225,000.

By train

The nearest stations are in Yogyakarta which is the major rail hub of Central Java. Connections are frequent from major cities in the west such as Jakarta and Bandung, and in the east such as Surabaya. From the main Tugu station it is easy to arrange taxi or bus transfers to Borobudur.

Get in

By plane

The nearest larger airports are Yogyakarta's Adisucipto International Airport (IATA: JOG) and Solo's Adisumarmo International Airport (IATA: SOC). Both are well connected domestically, and also offer some international connections to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia for example flies from Singapore to Yogyakarta daily.

It is possible, if one rushes oneself a bit, to visit Borobudur on a day trip from Bali or Jakarta. One can also fly direct to Semarang's Achmad Yani International Airport (IATA: SRG) with Batavia Air from Singapore and with Air Asia from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and make your way to Borobudur from there (2-3 hours by road).

By bus

The public buses to Borobudur from Yogyakarta are aimed mostly at Indonesian visitors, and only a few tourists venture aboard. If you are adventurous though, the Trans-Jogya service runs from central Yogyakarta to Jombor bus terminal in northern Yogyakarta, bus 2B/2A (Rp 3,000), where you can change to another bus to get to Borobudur. It takes about 60-90 minutes, and should cost around Rp 10,000-15,000 one way, but bargain with the bus staff to get a good price.

Buses run regularly from Magelang to Borobudur via Muntilan and are widely advertised there. The journey time is about 1 hour.

To get from or to the Hindu temples at Prambanan, take a Yogyakarta bus and get down at Jombor Terminal (90 min, Rp 15,000 for visitors, Rp 7,000 for Indonesians). From Jombor take TransJogya route 2B to Prambanan (45-60 min, Rp 3,000). It will require 3 bus changes: 2B from Jombor to Terminal Condong, 3B from Terminal Condong to Maguwo (Jl. Solo) and 1A/B from Maguwo to Prambanan.

By minibus

Travel agents in Yogyakarta sell door-to-door minibus tour packages for around Rp 75,000. This is a good deal and a straightforward way to reach the monument, although some operators may stop off at batik and silver factories along the route.

By car

Borobudur is about 40 minutes north of Yogyakarta by car. Most of the route is on a well-maintained (for Indonesia) four-lane (in many places) highway, and there are frequent bus services (see above). A taxi from central Yogyakarta to Borobudur costs around Rp 200,000, and from Yogyakarta airport about Rp 225,000.

By train

The nearest stations are in Yogyakarta which is the major rail hub of Central Java. Connections are frequent from major cities in the west such as Jakarta and Bandung, and in the east such as Surabaya. From the main Tugu station it is easy to arrange taxi or bus transfers to Borobudur.

Sleep

The vast majority of visitors stay in Yogyakarta and a few in Magelang. It is though well worth spending the night at Borobudur as this will give you a chance the following morning to get to the temples before the crowds arrive. Indeed, if you really want to explore and understand this magnificent monument, over-nighting in the immediate area is vital.

Budget

There are a few losmen (guesthouses) and basic hotels in the village of Borobudur just south of the park entrance. Owing to the site's popularity with tourists prices are, by Indonesian standards, somewhat inflated for what you get.

  • Lotus Guest House, Jl Medang Kamulan 2 (on northern road near Borobudur),  +62 293 788281. Popular with backpackers and offers the usual Indonesian budget set-up. About Rp 150,000-200,000.
  • Pondok Tinggal, Jl Balaputradewa 32, Brojonalan (on the eastern road entry, between Borobudur and Candi Pawon),  +62 293 788145, e-mail: info@pondoktingal.com. Good value option less than 1 km from the entrance to Borobudur. From Rp 200,000.
  • Rajasa Hotel, Jl Badrawati No2,  +62 293 788276. Only about 200 m from the main entrance. Very popular with Indonesian families and the walls are thin, so it can get noisy. Good service and good food for the price. From about Rp 300,000.

Mid-range

  • Manohara Hotel, Jl Badrawati,  +62 293 788680, e-mail: manohara@borobudurpark.co.id. Formerly Taman Borobudur Guest House, this friendly resort-style hotel is located inside the Borobudur Park, run by the park authority, and is 200 m from the temple entrance. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the views are great, but the rooms are little more than functional with air conditioning, hot water and passable bathrooms. Still, a room booked here is only Rp 690,000, which is excellent value as the price includes breakfast and entry to Borobudur for two. Food is excellent. This is the best option for visitors wanting to overnight at Borobudur and gain entry the next morning before the masses arrive. You can also rent a bike here which will cost Rp 10,000/hr. From Rp 625,000.
  • Ning Tidar Hotel, Jl Purworejo-Magelang KM 5, Magelang (about 6 km (3.7 mi) from Borobudur),  +62 293 314316, e-mail: info@ningtidar.com. In the middle of nowhere apart from a smoky internet cafe nearby, so it is not the most convenient location. However, it is a good option when the closer hotels are booked out, as they frequently are. It is a nice property for the price, and they can organise taxis to Borobudur. 24 hr restaurant service. From Rp 350,000.
  • Saraswati Borobudur, Jl Balaputradewa 10,  +62 293 788843, e-mail: marketing@saraswatiborobudur.com. This is a beautiful hotel with views of Borobudur, a swimming pool, and gracious staff. The rooms are large with the full range of amenities. Room rates are often deeply discounted (up to 60%) so be sure to ask before you go. Breakfast is included in the rate as is transportation to Borobudur. The cost of a guide is an optional extra. Rooms from US$100.

Splurge

  • Amanjiwo (3 km (1.7 mi) from Borobudur on the temple's south side),  +62 293 78833, e-mail: amanjiwo@amanresorts.com. Resort run by the Aman Group. If you can't afford to stay here, try to find the money to have lunch or dinner which are worth it for the awe-inspiring vista alone. From US$650.
  • Plataran Borobudur (Plataran Borobudur Resort and Spa in Borobudur), Dusun Tanjungan, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java 56553, Indonesia (1.5 km from Borobudur area (You can reach the temple area in less then 5 minutes)),  +62 293 788 888, fax: +62 293 788 699, e-mail: info@plataranborobudur.com. The resort offers an outstanding view of the Borobudur Temple, Mt Merapi, Menoreh Hill and surrounded by lush teak forests. From US$137.

Sleep

The vast majority of visitors stay in Yogyakarta and a few in Magelang. It is though well worth spending the night at Borobudur as this will give you a chance the following morning to get to the temples before the crowds arrive. Indeed, if you really want to explore and understand this magnificent monument, over-nighting in the immediate area is vital.

Budget

There are a few losmen (guesthouses) and basic hotels in the village of Borobudur just south of the park entrance. Owing to the site's popularity with tourists prices are, by Indonesian standards, somewhat inflated for what you get.

  • Lotus Guest House, Jl Medang Kamulan 2 (on northern road near Borobudur),  +62 293 788281. Popular with backpackers and offers the usual Indonesian budget set-up. About Rp 150,000-200,000.
  • Pondok Tinggal, Jl Balaputradewa 32, Brojonalan (on the eastern road entry, between Borobudur and Candi Pawon),  +62 293 788145, e-mail: info@pondoktingal.com. Good value option less than 1 km from the entrance to Borobudur. From Rp 200,000.
  • Rajasa Hotel, Jl Badrawati No2,  +62 293 788276. Only about 200 m from the main entrance. Very popular with Indonesian families and the walls are thin, so it can get noisy. Good service and good food for the price. From about Rp 300,000.

Mid-range

  • Manohara Hotel, Jl Badrawati,  +62 293 788680, e-mail: manohara@borobudurpark.co.id. Formerly Taman Borobudur Guest House, this friendly resort-style hotel is located inside the Borobudur Park, run by the park authority, and is 200 m from the temple entrance. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the views are great, but the rooms are little more than functional with air conditioning, hot water and passable bathrooms. Still, a room booked here is only Rp 690,000, which is excellent value as the price includes breakfast and entry to Borobudur for two. Food is excellent. This is the best option for visitors wanting to overnight at Borobudur and gain entry the next morning before the masses arrive. You can also rent a bike here which will cost Rp 10,000/hr. From Rp 625,000.
  • Ning Tidar Hotel, Jl Purworejo-Magelang KM 5, Magelang (about 6 km (3.7 mi) from Borobudur),  +62 293 314316, e-mail: info@ningtidar.com. In the middle of nowhere apart from a smoky internet cafe nearby, so it is not the most convenient location. However, it is a good option when the closer hotels are booked out, as they frequently are. It is a nice property for the price, and they can organise taxis to Borobudur. 24 hr restaurant service. From Rp 350,000.
  • Saraswati Borobudur, Jl Balaputradewa 10,  +62 293 788843, e-mail: marketing@saraswatiborobudur.com. This is a beautiful hotel with views of Borobudur, a swimming pool, and gracious staff. The rooms are large with the full range of amenities. Room rates are often deeply discounted (up to 60%) so be sure to ask before you go. Breakfast is included in the rate as is transportation to Borobudur. The cost of a guide is an optional extra. Rooms from US$100.

Splurge

  • Amanjiwo (3 km (1.7 mi) from Borobudur on the temple's south side),  +62 293 78833, e-mail: amanjiwo@amanresorts.com. Resort run by the Aman Group. If you can't afford to stay here, try to find the money to have lunch or dinner which are worth it for the awe-inspiring vista alone. From US$650.
  • Plataran Borobudur (Plataran Borobudur Resort and Spa in Borobudur), Dusun Tanjungan, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java 56553, Indonesia (1.5 km from Borobudur area (You can reach the temple area in less then 5 minutes)),  +62 293 788 888, fax: +62 293 788 699, e-mail: info@plataranborobudur.com. The resort offers an outstanding view of the Borobudur Temple, Mt Merapi, Menoreh Hill and surrounded by lush teak forests. From US$137.

Connect

There is a public telephone office (Wartel) on Jl Pramudyawardani opposite the main market, and also a post office adjacent.

The telephone area code for Borobudur is the same as Yogyakarta - 0274

  • Ambulance: 118.
  • Police: 110.

Connect

There is a public telephone office (Wartel) on Jl Pramudyawardani opposite the main market, and also a post office adjacent.

The telephone area code for Borobudur is the same as Yogyakarta - 0274

  • Ambulance: 118.
  • Police: 110.

Curated Travel Blogs

Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • Borobudur is the reason I packed my bags for Yogyakarta
  • This 8th Century temple is the largest Buddhist monument in the world, and one of the most breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia
  • Turns out there’s only one direct flight from Singapore to Yogyakarta: AirAsia
Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • Borobudur is an 8th-century Buddhist monument in Indonesia
  • There’s nothing “unusual” about this place (at least, not like the Island of Dolls) except that it is unique in the world for the type of temple it is
  • When I was in university, I became a Buddhist
Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • Follow Amber and Tim as we depart on our third winter of traveling the world
  • Country count: 23
Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • Sunrise over Borobudur, Indonesia is without doubt one of the travel world’s most spectacular experiences
  • But, how do you get prime-time sunrise viewing, without being surrounded by swarms of other tourists? Damn tourists getting in the way of all your Nat-Geo styled money-shots!
Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • Here are my initial notes on how to plan your awesome Borobudur Experience
  • Some groups prefer to go on a day trip just to see the Temple
  • PRIVATE DINING MENU: Breakfast | Western All Day Dining | Indonesian All Day Dining | Western All Day Vegetarian Dining | Indonesian All Day Vegetarian Dining | Desserts | Picnic Menu: Breakfast  | Picnic Menu: Lunch | Picnic Menu: Vegetarian Lunch, Menoreh Sunset Martini, Volcano Climbing | Special Dining: Selamatan Dinner, Romantic Dinner, Private BBQ | Special Dining: Gubuk Sawah Dinner, Pak Bilal | Tea Leaves, TWG Sachet | Drinks | Minibar | Wine by the glass You can fully customize your private dining experience with a wide array of dining options
Borobudur Travel Guide | Travyde

  • BOROBUDUR is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, located in the Borobudur village, Magelang Regency, Central Java Province, Indonesia
  • BOROBUDUR is an ancient temple inherited by Buddhism after the fall of the Hindu Kingdoms in Java in the 14th century and the Javanese conversion to Islam
  • Its name means Monastery on a High Place -- was derived from two words: Boro means temple from the Sanskrit word "Byara" and budur means above the hill from the Balinese word "Beduhur"

Curated Video Guides

TRAVEL VLOG | Borobudur Temple Java Indonesia
TRAVEL VLOG | Borobudur Temple Java Indonesia
Borobudur, or Barabudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, as well as the world's largest Buddhist temple, and also one of the greatest Buddhist...

BOROBUDUR TEMPLE I BACKPACKING INDONESIA I THE WORLD’S LARGEST BUDDHIST TEMPLE
BOROBUDUR TEMPLE I BACKPACKING INDONESIA I THE WORLD’S LARGEST BUDDHIST TEMPLE
Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia. The world's largest Buddhist temple. Up early to catch the sunrise over the famous Borobudur temple. Located about an hour drive from Yogyakarta, this...

Borobudur Temple, Central Java, Indonesia - Best Travel Destination
Borobudur Temple, Central Java, Indonesia - Best Travel Destination
Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.

Bali (Jogja), Indonesia Travel Vlog Day 6.1 - Borobudur Sunrise and Prambanan Temple
Bali (Jogja), Indonesia Travel Vlog Day 6.1 - Borobudur Sunrise and Prambanan Temple
2nd day at Yogyakarta, well Java! Alex and Joanna wake up before 4:30 am to do the sunrise at Borobudur Temple, followed by Prambanan Temple, and some great meals at Yogya. Videos will be...

YOGYAKARTA - BOROBUDUR TEMPLE - FIRST WORLD TRAVELLER
YOGYAKARTA - BOROBUDUR TEMPLE - FIRST WORLD TRAVELLER
Are you planning an Indonesia Trip in 2017? Yogyakarta (or Yogya, Jogya) in Central Java, Indonesia offers some awesome sights! One of the most popular things to do in Yogyakarta is a visit...

◄ Borobudur, Indonesia [HD] ►
◄ Borobudur, Indonesia [HD] ►
Borobudur - HD footage, information and facts on one of the most interesting sites on Java; Borobudur Temple. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. Many rate it as one of...

Borobudur, Indonesia Travel Video
Borobudur, Indonesia Travel Video
Borobudur, Indonesia Travel Video - Like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar, Java's Borobudur makes the rest of Southeast Asia's spectacular sites seem almost incidental. Looming...

BOROBUDUR TEMPLE & PRAMBANAN INDONESIA - World travel Vlog#83 - Yogyakarta Java Adventure Weltreise
BOROBUDUR TEMPLE & PRAMBANAN INDONESIA - World travel Vlog#83 - Yogyakarta Java Adventure Weltreise
Backpacking Indonesia 2017. Travel vlog borobudur temple & Prambanan. Our Java travel diary, Indonesien - Java travel guide Worldtravel video 83! To QUIT our jobs and flat in Germany to travel...

Borobudur sunrise, Prambanan Temple and travel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Borobudur sunrise, Prambanan Temple and travel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Sunrise at Borobudur, a few adventures in Yogyakarta, followed by an afternoon exploring Prambanan Temple in Indonesia. What an amazing way to spend a few days in Yogyakarta, Indonesia! ...

DAY 2 IN JOGJA/YOGYAKARTA - CANDI BOROBUDUR + PRAMBANAN | GUDEG YUDJUM || irwancorner
DAY 2 IN JOGJA/YOGYAKARTA - CANDI BOROBUDUR + PRAMBANAN | GUDEG YUDJUM || irwancorner
Click Here To Subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/irwancorner HI GUYS !! how are you all doing? On that day I decided to go to 2 different famous tourist spots, Candi Borobudur and Candi...

Why Borobudur is Magnificent? | Wonderful Indonesia
Why Borobudur is Magnificent? | Wonderful Indonesia
More about Borobudur temple http://indonesia.travel/sites/site/233/borobudur Check our Website: http://www.indonesia.travel Follow us on Facebook: http://goo.gl/2MMliV Follow us on Google...

Borobudur, Java - Indonesia Travel Channel
Borobudur, Java - Indonesia Travel Channel
Borobodur, Java - Indonesia please read more: https://blog.myvideomedia.com English see below [dt.] Borobudur, ca. 40 km nordwestlich von Yogyakarta im Kedu Tal im Zentrum von Java, ist eine...

Yogyakarta & Borobudur, Indonesia Solo Trip - GoPro Hero 4 Session 1080p HD
Yogyakarta & Borobudur, Indonesia Solo Trip - GoPro Hero 4 Session 1080p HD
Yogyakarta, Indonesia Solo Trip 21-25 July 2016 Recorded with GoPro Hero 4 Session Visited places in Yogyakarta: Yogyakarta City, Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta Monument, Fort Vredeburg, Kraton,...

Borobudur Buddhist Temple | Traveling with Mark #8
Borobudur Buddhist Temple | Traveling with Mark #8
Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and...

KATEI & Chris - Borobudur Indonesia Travel Vlog 3 Feb 2017
KATEI & Chris - Borobudur Indonesia Travel Vlog 3 Feb 2017
This episode KATEI & Chris takes us to... 3 Feb 2017, Borobudur Temple, Indonesia! KATEI & Chris explores a World Heritage Site, Borobudur Temple in Indonesia! Last Episode on KATEI &...

why i didn't like the world's largest Buddhist temple (Borobudur)
why i didn't like the world's largest Buddhist temple (Borobudur)
Went to check out Borobudur which is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and even though it looked gorgeous, the whole experience wasn't the best. Watch the video to find out why! To follow...

TRAVEL REPORT : Borobudur, Indonesia
TRAVEL REPORT : Borobudur, Indonesia

Obamas tour Borobudur temple during their trip to Indonesia
Obamas tour Borobudur temple during their trip to Indonesia
Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama tour the Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta, where Barack lived as a child, during their trip to Indonesia. Read More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-46...

Travel Log "Visiting Borobudur Temple The World's Largest Buddhist Temple" | #indonesia
Travel Log "Visiting Borobudur Temple The World's Largest Buddhist Temple" | #indonesia
Thanks God, finally We arrived at Borobudur Temple around 10 am. We must buy a ticket entrance to get in. The price of entrance ticket for International tourist 260.000 IDR or approx 25 USD...

Travel Magelang, Indonesia - Tour of Borobudur Temple
Travel Magelang, Indonesia - Tour of Borobudur Temple
Take a tour of Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Indonesia, the World's largest Buddhist temple -- part of the World's Greatest Attractions series by GeoBeats. Hi, I'm Naomi and I'm very excited...

Travel VLog - Exploring Merapi, and Borobudur Temple [Wonderful Indonesia] [Trip of Wonders]
Travel VLog - Exploring Merapi, and Borobudur Temple [Wonderful Indonesia] [Trip of Wonders]
This episode shows you how fun the time I had when I explore some special spots around Jogjakarta. Don't blink! :p Kamera yg gue pake: Canon G7X & DJI Phantom 3. Voice recorder: iphone 6s...

Borobudur Indonesia destination video | Indonesai Borobudur Travel tour
Borobudur Indonesia destination video | Indonesai Borobudur Travel tour
Borobudur Indonesia destination video, Indonesia Borobudur Travel tour Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument...

BOROBUDUR SUNRISE - TRAVEL VLOG #5
BOROBUDUR SUNRISE - TRAVEL VLOG #5
Travelling through Yogyakarta, Indonesia! Borobudur sunrise, Prambanan temple and Kopi Luwak (poop coffee).

TRIP TO INDONESIA - YOGJAKARTA "JOGJA" - TRAVEL VLOG
TRIP TO INDONESIA - YOGJAKARTA "JOGJA" - TRAVEL VLOG
Welcome to Yogjakarta Indonesia! In this tour we visit central Java in the city of Yogyakarta (often called “Jogja”) to see Borobudur and Prambanan, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. ...

Borobudur Vacation Travel Video Guide
Borobudur Vacation Travel Video Guide
Travel video about destination Botobudur in Indonesia. Dating from the 8th century and located in today's Indonesia, stands the largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur, a mountainous...

Places, Sights, and Attractions

View Map
Manohara Restaurant
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Afif A.
Access and starting point to enjoy Sun Rise at Borobudur. Mystically beautiful. For photography, a lot of people said that there're only 10 days (in a year) that provide best view for sunrisibg photo
Distance: 0.34 km
Pasar Borobudur
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Burcu Bayrak
mugo mugo kudanan
Distance: 1.04 km
Camera House
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Unggul Brahmanto
pingenn kesana....
Distance: 1.85 km
Ryan Mac
Даешь в каждый номер по бассейну
Distance: 1.42 km
Museum Borobudur
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pengguna kertas
Not much to it. Pretty badly lit inside but it’s kinda cool to see the architectural archeologists notes and stuff
Distance: 0.39 km
Patio Lounge & Resto
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Maxim Vansteenbeeck
Nice lounge for dinner
Distance: 1.41 km
Taman Relokasi Candi Borobudur
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guzfy sary
beautiful and historical, easy to get here from Jogja by Trans Jogja. try to have guide when you visit this temple,so you will take some photos while in here also know the history bout this temple.
Distance: 0.55 km
Ady Lee
The monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
Distance: 0.01 km
Pondok Tingal
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diah rani paramita
Great food,great landscape
Distance: 1.39 km
Pawon Temple (Candi Pawon)
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Gilbert C
Ayo ke Magelang 2015 #wisata #liburan #mudik 😁
Distance: 1.74 km
Museum Kapal Samudraraksa
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Banyak foto2 yg masuk rekor muri disini
Distance: 0.31 km
Manohara | Centre of Borobudur Study
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Iwan Widyatmoko
Belajar budaya dn sejarah
Distance: 0.38 km
Rani Jaya Borobudur
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Dadank LaIintrépido DeManchaster
Welcome to the Travyde travel guide to Borobudur! Find out what to see, do, explore, buy, eat, and sleep in Borobudur, as well as suggested itineraries, feedback from other traveller's, travel blog entries, video guides, relevant social media content and much more. Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia dating from the 8th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of world's truly great ancient monuments, the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth, and few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale of place, and the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Set as it is in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of mighty active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama.
Distance: 0.89 km
Sentra Kerajinan & Makanan Borobudur
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Makannya gda yg enak... Satu lagi!!! Tukang ngamen nya maksa semua!!!
Distance: 0.44 km
Borobudur Nirwana Sunrise
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Abu Bakar Ahmad
istimewa sekali
Distance: 0.05 km
Indomaret
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beli es krim dulu...
Distance: 0.89 km
Angkringan Mul
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Febri Kurniawan
Teh angetnya bikin nagih! #mantab
Distance: 0.8 km
BakMie Pak Parno
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Noki Sukamoto
come early, food here finishes fast
Distance: 0.89 km
Located in the heritage park. You can join the sunrise tour on Borubodur temple.
Distance: 0.38 km

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