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"Borobudur - one of the seven wonders of the world!" Yogyakarta Things to Do Tip by bellatrix

Yogyakarta Things to Do: 321 reviews and 730 photos

  Borobudur, Java, Indonesia
by bellatrix

For a spectacular experience, don't miss the sunrise at Borobudur, an 8th century Buddhist temple in central Java. The temple has five levels, which diminish in size as they go up. The walls are covered in reliefs illustrating everyday life and how one can easily be caught in samsara (the repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma) if not devoted to the path of awareness. Many of the panels have been covered up because they're considered "pornographic" by the conservative Muslims of Indonesia. (Sexually explicit material is often found on ancient Buddhist, and especially Hindu, temples.)
Seventy-two hollow stupas, each housing an image of a seated Buddha, are arranged in three concentric circles surrounding the central stupa on the top three levels of the temple. The stupas look like bells, with little pillars on the top of each one. This shape can also be seen at Hindu temples, and is symbolic of the unity of the male and female elements in nature. The bell part of the stupa is feminine, and the pillar is masculine. There are a total of seventy-three stupas if you count the gigantic one at the very top of the temple, and seven plus three equals ten, ten being a number sacred to Buddhists. Ten symbolizes the completion of a full cycle, and a surpassing of the earthly plane. The Buddhist term for this is Nibbana.

Surrounding the temple are dense stands of coconut palms and forested hills. In the distance the volcano Mirapa is visible; Mirapa destroyed Borobudur twice with its eruptions, as well as the nearby Hindu temple Prambanan.

This temple is truly majestic and was one of my favorite experiences in Indonesia. Tours to the temple are easy to arrange through any tour guide on Malioboro Street; if you like, you can also arrange to see Prambanan on the same day.

Address: 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta
Directions: The easiest way to get there is to arrange a tour through a travel guide in Yogya.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 29, 2003
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