Here’s the best way to see Borobudur in all its glory
NOT far from the town of Muntilan in Central Java is Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple and Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.
Constructed in the ninth century, the Unesco World Heritage-listed Mahayana Buddhist temple consists of nine stacked platforms (six square and three circular) topped by a central dome which is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues each seated inside a perforated stupa. Home to a total of 504 Buddha statues, Borobudur is truly a sight to behold, one that often ends up on the social media feeds of travelers from around the globe.
The best time to visit Borobudur is at sunrise while the air is still cool and the crowds have yet to arrive. Gates open at 6am and it gives just enough leeway for you to catch the sunrise. And as dawn breaks, it will provide the perfect setting for visitors to capture stunning pictures.
In particular, the western side of Borobudur is where you can snap dream-like shots of the soft, purple-hued valleys beyond the iconic stupas, covered in the early morning mist.
Visiting the popular monument, however, will require a bit of an energetic walk. For pilgrims, the journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness).
Borobudur guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades. Here, the faithful would climb from one level of the temple to the next and the trek can be challenging for some, especially if you are particularly unfit.
Fortunately, the attraction is planning to open a special route to accommodate foreign tourists. According to Borobudur Temple Tourist Park general manager I Gusti Putu Ngurah Sedana, plans are currently underway for the temple’s management to provide foreign tourists with the best services possible with the new route.
Borobudur Temple Tourist Park in Magelang, Central Java, is planning to open a special route to accommodate foreign tourists.
“Foreign tourists do not want to encounter any obstacles or disturbances on their way to the temple. They want a safe and convenient route to and from the temple,” Sedana was quoted by kompas.com as saying.
“The special route will allow foreign tourists to immediately head toward the temple from the main gate. They will also be shuttled by electric cars to the parking lot on their way back,” Sendana said, adding that it is also aimed at attracting more international tourists.
The temple management is expecting the new route to be finished prior to the peak of the tourist period between July and October.