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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Borobodur. Ancient buddhist Kingdom of Java.

Taken from my journal.


We left Jakarta last week and headed first by train to the city of Yogyakarta. From there we took a bus to Borobudur, the site of an ancient Buddhist temple built in 750 AD. We arrived early in the morning off the bus and jumped in a small hand pulled cart to get to our guesthouse a few kilometers up the road.

The guest house turned out to be very nice. In the high season the majority of the people who stayed there were Buddhist pilgrims who had come to see the great monument. We set our late in the morning so that we would have lots of time to walk through the temple. About 100 feet from our guest house on the main road you could see the very top of the temple rising out of the jungle beyond. We made our way down the road in that direction. The whole area seemed better kept than the rest of Indonesia, likely because they make a lot of money off it. We reached the main gate where we waited to buy a ticket to enter. The entry cost ended up being 100 000 rupia, which at the time seemed like a lot of money but it was really only ten dollars.


After we got our ticket we headed up the stone walk way towards the ruins. One last flight of stone stairs and we find ourselves standing at the base of Borobudur. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist monument on the planet.  The temple was actually lost in the jungle for several centuries and was known only through the myths and legends of the local people.  Though in modern times Islam is the predominant religion in central Java a Buddhist kingdom once thrived there. The great monument depicts the life of the Buddha on the endless walls of detailed carvings. Each of the different levels of the Mandala shaped monument is smaller than the one below giving it a pyramid like shape. At the top stands a great Stupa surrounded by great stone bell shaped honeycomb structures. Within each of these bell shaped structure is a stone Buddha. We walked in the light of the setting sun marveling at the ancient wonder and tried  to imagine the enlightened people who created such an amazing piece of art.


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