IFTravels: YOGYAKARTA 29 Jan - 2 Feb 2017 (DAY 2 - BOROBUDUR)



We departed from the hotel as early as 530 AM because we want to get to Borobudur at their opening time. Borobudur opens to public at 6 AM. Although there is a sunrise ticket, that costs 450k per person! And that is just for Borobudur entry alone. Unfortunately, in Borobudur park, you can't try be a local because they will detect you straight away and ask you to present a KTP, which is equivalent of our IC. And also, the ticket for International is seriously far expensive than local. Nearly ten times the difference.

Anyhow, we bought the combination ticket of Borobudur+Prambanan, USD 32 but they will charge you using rupiah. Here, you can use credit card. Once you pay, there is a voucher you can claim for drinks. Coffee, tea or mineral. I saw some people taking mineral bottle and still take the coffee. Not a problem. They also offer guided services but it's 50k rupiah per person. We decided not to take the guide because we want to have our own sweet time exploring the temple. We rushed our way and went straight into Borobudur.

We headed straight up to the stupas because I wanted to get the best pictures and views in the morning. The stairs going up is quite steep, for elders (especially Asian elderly) it could be quite a feat. As soon as we got up to the stupas, although I expected it would be beautiful, seeing the stupas in real life and the morning view...I was bewildered. One would wonder how did the people who built this did it? For Stamford Raffles, who founded this Borobudur, what must he have thought when he saw this temple?



And then, suddenly I saw it. The mountain opposite Borobudur had lenticular clouds perching on top of it. God is great! I was overwhelmed! My heart went to my throat. I am witnessing one of nature's most unique formation! (Wiki: Lenticular Cloud)

And so, we took tonnes of photos here. Up to the point that we felt that photos/videos won't do enough justice to what we are seeing. We decided to just enjoy the scenery, the ancient architecture, the history, etc.

Before coming to Yogyakarta, we watched a documentary about Borobudur. The story is intriguing whereby Stamford Raffles before becoming the founder of Singapore, resided in Indonesia and learned Bahasa from his teacher, Munsyi Abdullah. He was actually more interested in geography and history rather than politics. 

When Raffles found Borobudur (with the help from locals), he kept it to himself for some time. Studied the structure and the carvings and even started to do simple restoration with his loyal locals. Little did he know that he had founded the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and that it was unique in its architecture traits whereby it incorporates Javanese and Buddhist design in its structure. The name "Borobudur" also was perhaps given by Stamford Raffles, as it is found in his book on Javan history. Although historians has many opinions on where it derived from, ultimately it would mean "A buddhist temple on top of a hill".

Design of Borobudur structure is a complex Mandala but the meaning can be read from this excerpt here:

A clear state of mind

The Mandala is almost a symbolic representation of the cosmos itself. It mirrors the structure of the phenomenal world as understood by Buddhists at that time which consists on the basic level of the world of sensuality, and at Borobodur the base of the stupa represents the sensual world, the world of action, the world of trouble, the world of conflict.

As you rise up the various levels of this three-dimensional mandala you come to the next layer which is that of the realm of pure form, and the four main galleries around which you walk on the stupa at Borobodur represent this rather more purified formal realm where the life of the Buddha is depicted on the friezes.

But when you get to the upper level of the monument you suddenly find yourself without any forms at all, you just have the bare stonework and you have a dome, and then the central, uppermost crown of the monument has no image in it whatsoever. Whether that’s simply accidental, whether the image has been stolen, we just don’t know, but it conforms with the idea of moving as one rises in one’s spiritual practice from a kind of rooted-ness in the sensory confused world of passion and suffering and one rises through purer forms until one reaches a formless realm where one has somehow liberated one’s mind from all those things that have somehow caught it up in the messiness of life and has achieved a perspective. When you are at Borobodur you are standing on this great monument, you can see the entire world around you, beneath you, it’s an enormous experience of spaciousness, of freedom, and a far vaster perspective – a clear state of mind.

I wish I could write about Borobudur here, but I'm not an expert. I'm not even a Buddhist to understand thoroughly what the meanings of the carvings are; all I know is it talks about reincarnation.

I found that Borobudur's Wikipedia page is sufficient enough for you to read about it. If reading is not your thing, find a documentary about it. One thing to note, there is a Buddha in each stupas on Borobudur. And there is a reason for the mandala design, especially for Buddhist monks.

Why Borobudur was left abandoned despite it being an important place of worship during that time? Historians believe it was either because of Mount Merapi's eruption that drove people away from Borobudur or there was mass conversion to Islam after the era of Buddhism and Hinduism.