Borobudur & Prambanan - Buddhist and Hindi temples

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Thursday, June 10, 2010

We had a 5am start this morning for our trip to the local temples of West Java. It was decided to take the lazy route and sign up for a minibus tour rather than taking public transport. Also this meant we could see both Borobudur (a Buddhist temple) and Pramanan (a Hindu temple) in the one day.  

We used "Sosro Tours" and found them good to deal with. It worked out at about 6euro for the minibus each and then each temple was 12euro because we are foreigners (but they are world heritage sites). I believe there are cheaper ways of getting in, but as I already said, we were lazy!

Our first stop was Borobudur, the most visited attraction in Indonesia. This Buddhist temple is a “fat temple” and is made up of many levels or vistas. It is a huge square shaped structure with steps up each side, north, south, east and west.  It sits on a small hill with a sunken area around it. It is believed this temple once stood in a lake, like a lotus flower. It must have been absolutely amazing in it's hayday. At the topmost vista are the bell shapes, in each of which sits a deity. For all Buddhist temples the figures are shown in sitting poses, Hindu temples have figures in standing poses (except Vishnu). 

We were fortunate that we arrived so early in the morning as we had the place almost to ourselves. It also was not too hot at this stage, although climbing the steps was tiring. A dominant figure in the distance is the volcano Mount Merapi and alongside it Mount Merbabu which is either dormant/extinct. Mount Merapi is the most active volcano in Java. It is also visible from the skyline of Yogyakarta. In some of our pictures you can see it smoking (not covered in clouds!), this is because it had been raining. We enjoyed looking at the temple especially given the fantastic views of the mountainous surroundings covered in forest.

Outside the temple we had breakfast at one of the stall restaurants in the rather large market area near the parking lot. Black tea, toast and jam, a boiled egg and some fruit. It was great to put something into our hungry bellies. 

Weather-wise this was definitely the driest day we've seen so far. There was less cloud cover and the sun was out by the time we had finished breakfast and were on our way to the next destination.

We stopped at Mendut about 3km away from Borobudur next. This is another smaller Buddhist temple which was actually part of the original Borobudur complex. There are two sacred rivers between the temples which are significant in Buddhist culture. 

Also in this village we got to visit a Buddhist Monastery which was really lovely and very well maintained. There were some really pretty prayer houses there also.

Our final temple Pramanan was an hour drive away. Here I would like to mention the pandemonium of driving here. The lanes are guidelines only, the motorbike/scooter is most popular and after that minivans/people carriers. The problem is that everyone seems to drive their vehicles like they’re bikes... It’s nonstop weaving to and fro, and I’m not convinced anyone gets where they want any faster. The drive was entertainment in itself – except when we nearly knocked a scooter clean off the road, oh, and when a truck towing a truck swung out across the road into the oncoming traffic (us)!

Pramanan temple is a much better organised affair than Borobudur in terms of the facilities. At both major temples we were given a free welcome drink. But at Pramanan the entrance lobby was attended by pleasant servicemen and there were Western toilets – oh the novelty!! 

The Hindu temple complex differs from the Buddhist in one major way. A Hindu complex is made up of many tall narrow temples clustered together. Pramanan originally had 249 temples, most of these are ruined though it looks like they are planning reconstruction. The temples have been ruined over time due to earthquake and volcano. As recent as 2006 there was an earthquake which made some structures unsafe. In some pics there is scaffolding in place, particularly Candi (temple) Sewu. 

We really enjoyed Pramanan a lot. I liked the vibe of the place more than Borobudur. Also we got some walking in very hot sunshine. We left happy and returned to the city where the small group (nobody seemed to want to interact unfortunately) disbanded. 

Bryan and I took a nap before strolling to get something to eat, again in eF.M’s before walking Mariboro at night soaking the atmosphere of street sellers, bike parking, becak riders, and all sorts of food stalls before calling it a day.
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ann markham, co. limk on

the photos are great and those buildings are amazing , yer looking good too ! xoxo

aliandbryan on

Thanks, think I'm finally getting over the culture shock! We leave here tomorrow to go see some volcanos for 2 days... :-O

ann markham, co. limk on

woo hoo ! enjoy guys ! xoxo

Amanda on

Beautiful pictures Ali! It seems like you guys are seeing and learning a lot already. Take care and stay safe. I will be checking up on you. ;)

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