The magnificent Borobudur temple is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument, an ancient site widely considered to be one of the world’s seven wonders. 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, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. This awe inspiring monument is truly a marvel. After a visit here you will understand why it is Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction and a famous icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage.

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Located on the island of Java, the temple sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. It covers an enormous area, measuring 123 x 123 metres. The monument is a sensational design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The architecture and stonework of this temple has no equal. And it was built without using any kind of cement or mortar. The structure is like a set of massive interlocking Lego blocks held together without any glue.

This monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage.

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The ten levels of the temple symbolise the three divisions of the religion’s cosmic system. As visitors begin their journey at the base of the temple, they make their way to the top of the monument through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology: Kamadhatu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). As visitors walk to the top, the monument guides the pilgrims past 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.

Getting There
Borobudur is only one hour’s drive from Yogyakarta. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour or renting a car.

Entering the temple compound is easy and most visitors choose to wander around on foot. Alternatively you can charter a cart (pulled by a horse) at a reasonable price.

Cruise passengers who disembark at Semarang can take a day tour driving through Wonosobo to Borobudur.

Getting Around
The best way to explore this site is on foot.  You will certainly miss a great experience if you visit this enormous temple without learning about its history - guides are available for around Rp 50,000. This is a wise investment as a guide will be able to walk you around the site and explain the history of the temple, beginning with its construction during the Syailendra dynasty. The stone carvings attached to the temple display legends and stories which have great philosophical significance.

To Stay
Many visitors choose to stay in Yogyakarta (also known as Jogja or Jogjakarta) which is only a one-hour drive from Borobudur and offers a wide variety of hotels, from simple B&Bs to starred hotels.

For visitors who want to stay as close as possible to the magnificent Borobudur temple there are other accommodation options. Standing high amidst the Menoreh Hills with some truly stunning views of Borobudur, the Amanjiwo hotel is a majestic building and almost a tourist attraction in its own right.  Located only 3 km / 2 miles south of Borobudur, the Amanjiwo is a luxury property where guests can enjoy exclusive suites with private swimming pools.

Alternatively, there are hotels perched in the nearby beautiful highlands of Magelang located 20 km / 12 miles north of Borobudur Temple. One of the most impressive hotels in this area is the Losari Coffee Plantation, which offers villa-style accommodation where the verandahs overlook impressive views of the nearby volcanoes.

To Do
For a better understanding of the temple and its detailed stone displays, you can join a tour or hire a licensed tour guide.

When you reach the top of the temple, take some time to rest and admire the magnificent view. At the top of Borobudur you will find vacant space which is symbolic of the emptiness signifying completion.

Feel the wind gently blowing as you take in the view of the surrounding lush mountain landscape. You are free to take as many photos as you like to capture the moment.

Local superstition says that if you climb this temple thinking of a single wish, reach your hand inside the bell-like stupa at the top of the temple, and touch the Buddha's figure inside, your wish will then come true.

Take note of the stone carvings surrounding the temple. There are many stories in these stone displays. Make sure your guide recounts some of the stories reflected in these stones. If you're a writer or a poet, these stories might inspire you.

Another interesting feature of Borobudur is the Menorah hill on its north. If you look at it carefully, the hills contour is shaped like a sleeping person. That makes Borobudur appear to stand tall beside a “sleeping person”.

The museum of Samudera Raksa will teach you about the merchants who travelled Indonesia and Africa in ancient times plus modern attempts to recreate these voyages.

The Karmawibhangga Museum, situated on the grounds of the temple, is a great source of information for everything about this magnificent place.

Tips

  • Held once a year during a full moon in May, the Vesak (Waisak) festival attracts many pilgrims and visitors. This is a Buddhist festival celebrating the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha. If you’re interested in cultural festivals, this is an ideal time to visit Borobudur.
  • Dress respectfully in light, comfortable clothes.
  • Hire a licensed tour guide for a deeper insight.
  • During dry season, you should wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun or occasional shower. You can rent one for around Rp2,000 (about UK £0.10)