Entrancing Borobudur!

When I was in school, Borobudur Temple was considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. Some say this ancient site is no longer in the new 7 wonders of the world’s list. As a child learning history of Southeast Asia back then, I was awed but never thought that one day, I would have the chance to walk this holy grounds.

I ran into “problems” countless times during this overseas outing but the kindness shown by those I travelled with made it a humbling and grateful experience. I would like to take the opportunity to say THANK YOU to everyone in this trip!

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

Indonesian Classical Period – The magnificent Borobudur temple is the world’s largest Buddhist monument.
Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region.
However, there are sufficient indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

Borobudur itself stands tall against the spectacular backdrop of the Menoreh mountain range that surrounds it.
At the top of Borobudur you will find vacant space which is symbolic of the fact that emptiness signifies completion.

“Borobudur is built on a natural hill and is built as a single large stupa and, when viewed from above, takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. The original foundation is a square, approximately 118 metres (387 ft) on each side. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square and the upper three are circular. The upper platform features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.” – Wikipedia

We arrived Borobudur compound at about 4.30am and spread out to “chope” (reserve) our locations in anticipation for and hopefully an epic sunrise to appear. I had trouble focusing in the dark. Those around came to my help. Later that afternoon, I hurt my knee. Everyone showed their care and concern – helping to carry my gears, holding me to lighten the weight off my leg and getting caught in the rain as I had to walk slowly because of the strain, offered oinment, bringing me to a clinic, etc… etc… Simple gestures but genuine kindness! I felt like I am traveling with family members. Indeed, these awesome unselfish bunch of people are my photography family, if not forever, at least for this trip!

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
When I had trouble focusing in the dark pre-dawn hour, my friends lit up for me. Thank you, my dear friends 😀

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

This photo was titled: “I’ve Got Your Back” on my Facebook account.
Definition: When someone gets in trouble or has issues they can always count on the person who will defend and stand by their side no matter what.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

The anticipated epic sunrise did not happen at Borobudur but still, we had a good time 😀
 The pointy things with bell shape bottoms, in the photos here and below, are stupas.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

“A stupa is intended as a shrine for the Buddha. Sometimes stupas were built only as devotional symbols of Buddhism. A temple, on the other hand, is used as a house of worship. The meticulous complexity of the monument’s design suggests that Borobudur is in fact a temple.” – Wikipedia

Jogya Borobudur

Buddha – the one that I have been taking his back.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

“If you have inner peace, nobody can force you to be a slave to the outer reality.” – Sri Chinmoy
A buddha housed inside one of the pierced enclosures (stupa) which I captured through one of the holes – “Inner Reflections”.

One of the terrace walls showcasing bas-relief sculptures etched on the lower outer wall relating the history of the Sailendra dynasty.

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

Bas-relief sculptures.

Jogya Borobudur

Bas-relief sculptures.

Jogya Borobudur

Bas-relief sculptures.

“Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Borobudur attracted attention in 1885, when Yzerman, the Chairman of the Archaeological Society in Yogyakarta, made a discovery about the hidden foot. In 1885, a hidden structure under the base was accidentally discovered. The “hidden footing” contains reliefs, 160 of which are narratives describing the real Kāmadhātu. The remaining reliefs are panels with short inscriptions that apparently provide instructions for the sculptors, illustrating the scenes to be carved. The real base is hidden by an encasement base, the purpose of which remains a mystery. It was first thought that the real base had to be covered to prevent a disastrous subsidence of the monument into the hill. There is another theory that the encasement base was added because the original hidden footing was incorrectly designed, according to Vastu Shastra, the Indian ancient book about architecture and town planning. Regardless of why it was commissioned, the encasement base was built with detailed and meticulous design and with aesthetic and religious consideration.” – Wikipedia


I was all packed to go.
Alaric, captured with my Samsung Note 4.

Jogya Alaric

Lion Gate Guardian by Alaric (in the photo above).

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

I was looking for the exit but instead walked a full circle.
Saw these local students and the boys called, “Miss… Miss…”
They were happy to post for me and in return asked me to post for them.
Of course, I did. With a peace sign, too! 😀

Yogyakarta Borobudur Temple

Indeed I was and am honoured to have walked the sacred gorunds.

The whole trip was plagued with bad weather but our spirits were not dampened! We had a great time eating, shooting and mingling.

Happy traveling and bonding 😀

Date of visit: 7th March 2015 (second day of trip)

Read detailed information of Borobudur here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur

4 Responses to “Entrancing Borobudur!”
  1. Is this just a pile of rocks or is there a room or two
    inside the structure for whatever purpose ???
    Indonesia is mostly Muslim, do they respect the Buddhist temples ???
    Hope the knee is getting better.
    ME PS … thanks or the vicarious journey.

    • Sam Han says:

      Sorry Mike, we did not hire a guide so not too sure about the whole story, only know what’s on wikipedia. You’ll be surprised how accommodative and friendly Indonesians are. Most of them are ordinary folks minding their own business, making ends meet. Indonesia, mainland and Bali are some of my favourite food and holiday destinations. 😀

  2. Sofia says:

    I went there when I was a teenager, I remember it’s so impressive and beautiful! Thanks for the lovely photos Sam xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.