The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Borobudur, Indonesia’s World Heritage Site in Central Java

Written By: herbrunbridge - May• 23•10

In our opinion, a visit to the ancient temple of Borobudur on the island of Java is worth a trip to Indonesia in itself.  It’s on a par with any temple complex in SE Asia, as compelling as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, or Burma’s Bagan.  Built between 700 and 800 ACE, it consists of some 60,000 cubic meters of stone, consisting of over 2,000,000 blocks. The temple boasts 3 circular terraces sitting on a base of 7 square terraces. On these terraces sit more than 500 Buddha images and over 1,600 bas relief panels. The beautiful, colorful sandstone reliefs on the third level are one of the highlights not to be missed. Because the hawkers begin around 10 am, it is recommended to get to the temple early, while you’ll still have some of the best of it to yourself. 

The small Museum Karmawibhangaa, on site at GPS S07°36.284’  E110°12.278′ ,  is filled with elements related to restoration efforts, including tools, photographs, and carvings.

We also found the Museum Kapal at GPS S07°36.303’  E110°12.981′ to be well worth a visit. It houses a seagoing vessel recreated from a relief at Borobudur (panel 6, gallery 1, northern side) that was reconstructed by a team led by As’ad Abdullah, Philip Beale, and Nick Burningham. It was eventually sailed to trace the Cinnamon Route from Indonesia, to Madagascar, to Cape Town, to Ghana. In Ghana, it was taken apart and shipped back to Borobudur, where it has been reassembled, and sits in the museum. 

To get there, we strongly recommend hiring a car and driver, who can also take you to other interesting sites in the area, including the Mendut Temple, a few km east of Borobudur. If you don’t hire a car, it’s 45 minutes by bus from Jogjakarta.

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