Borobudur. Indonesia.

I had been waiting for a chance to visit Borobudur ever since I moved to Singapore in 2010, and finally put together a crazy 5 day trip to Central Indonesia with a friend in the early summer of 2011.

Borobudur, located in Java, Indonesia, is the single largest Buddhist structure in the world, with over 500 Buddha statues adorning it. The monument lies in a fertile volcanic plain called the Kedu Plain, between the twin volcanoes of Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi to the east and Mount Sumbing and Mount Sundoro to the west. Although, there are no written records on the inception of Borobudur, it is believed to have been complete around 825 AD after taking over 75 years to build. 

We based ourselves in Yogyakarta, the cultural and administrative capital of Java because of its proximity to Borobudur and the international airport. It would take an entire day to visit Borobudur, so we left early with enough time to get there, walk around the temple grounds and climb to the top in time for sunset (opening hours are till 5 pm). We used the public bus system and took the Trans-Jogia service that runs from central Yogyakarta to Jombor Bus Terminal in the north from where we changed buses to get to Borobudur Bus Terminal.


Buddha on the top platform with Mount Merapi in the distance

Borobudur’s sheer grandeur, standing at 29 meters high, is overwhelming when you enter the complex gates. The structure consists of a pyramid base topped with 8 platforms, 5 square and 3 circular . There are 72 stupas at the highest level, shaped like bells with a statue of Buddha inside each. The various tiers take pilgrims through the 3 levels of Buddhist cosmology – Kamadhatu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). 



Nearly 2,670 individual bas relief panels furnish the facade, 1,460 narrative while the balance are decorative. To view the reliefs in their proper order, we started from the east gate, circulating clockwise to complete a circuit before climbing to the next level and repeating the same till the summit. The view on top is truly remarkable and well worth the climb up!

Bas relief panels

Bas relief panels

"Lucky Buddha"

“Lucky Buddha”


NOTE: My 5 day Java itinerary with 1 night in Cemoro Lawang and 3 in Yogyakarta
Singapore → Surabaya → Cemoro Lawang [Mount Bromo] → Probolinggo → Yogyakarta [Borobudur + Prambanan] → Singapore
Day #1: Surabaya + Cemoro Lawang
Day #2: Mount Bromo + Probolinggo | overnight bus from Probolinggo to Yogyakarta
Day #3: Yogyakarta City
Day #4: Yogyakarta City + Prambanan Temple complex
Day #5: Borodubur + the Ramayan ballet at the Prambanan Temples
Day #6: Morning flight out of Yogyakarta back to Singapore
{Local buses used throughout with the exception of the journey from Surabaya Airport to Cemoro Lawang}

6 thoughts on “Borobudur. Indonesia.

  1. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this place before now – those pictures are STUNNING!!! It sounds like it is relatively easy to reach by public transport too?

    • Its a wonderful place, I don’t think the photographs do it due justice.
      It is fairly easy to get to using public transport, thats what I did from Yogyakarta. I am yet to write about Yogyakarta (the city) and the rest of Java.

  2. Pingback: Prambanan. Indonesia’s spectacular Hindu temple complex. « why is a raven like a writing desk?

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