In September 2015, Fann and I traveled to the city of Yogyakarta for a short trip. The trip was a spontaneous one and it came about when we accidentally stumbled upon a couple of super cheap air tickets from Airasia. So, we had no choice but to go. One of our most memorable places we visited was the Borobudur. Standing proud and majestic, the gigantic rock structure looks like fantasy monument from a Tomb Raider scene. The Borobudur is a 9th century Mahayana Buddhist Temple. It is located deep in the jungles of Magelang, Central Java. The structure consists of 9 stacked platforms, 6 square and 3 circular, topped by an enormous central dome. The temple is decorated with more than 2,500 relief panels and up to 500 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and also one of the greatest monuments in the world. Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.
The Borobudur sits overlooking the sacred volcano called Mount Merapi and the place boasts one of the best places to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. Fann and I decided to go for the sunrise because we figured that it would definitely be quieter to enjoy the sunrise assuming that most people can’t wake up that early. The normal rates for Borobudur is USD20, so that is why more people prefer to go for the sunset instead. However, an extra USD10 is required to enter Borobudur at sunrise hours. By being there early, it gives me more privilege to find a good spot and enjoy the serenity Borobudur has to offer. It would also be easier to concentrate solely on the photography as compared to the crowded sunset.
If you visit Borobudur for sunrise, you will have to get yourself to the Manohara Hotel. It is the only access for the sunrise entrance. The hotel is located right next to the temple. When you’re there, they would provide you with a flashlight and you can walk to the temple when the sky is still dark. With the only flashlight, you’ll have to navigate your way to the temple grounds, climb up the temple’s steep staircases and find your sunrise spot. However, when we were there, it began to drizzle. I was a little disappointed because I thought I would miss the sunrise because of this. We stayed still at our spot and after about 15 minutes, the rain stopped and the sun began to rise right in front of us. That was when the entire Borobudur scene turned magical. Aside from the serenity, there was a series of camera shutters clicking away. Fortunately, we managed to capture a few gorgeous shots of the sunrise. After it was bright enough, Fann and I went for a stroll around the temple. I was so amazed by the size of this structure and wondered how the ancient people could construct such a monument without our modern technology. The bas reliefs were amazing and so life like. Also, we shouldn’t forget the efforts that the Indonesian government has made to restore it to its former glory and got it listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
For an alternative view of the sunrise of Borobudur, you can also visit Setumbu Hill. The fee to enter is Rp. 30.000 for foreigners which is rather cheap. Getting up to the peak requires a 20 minute trek. It’s not a hard trek if you’re reasonably fit. When you’re there, you can see Mount Merapi, Mount Merbabu and Borobudur at one glance. The view point allows everyone to find the sunrise direction rather easily as it only has one direction. I got my camera equipment all set up at 5am and waited for the sunrise to begin. If you look up, you would notice that the sky is filled with stars. It was an amazing sight. As the sun begins to rise, you will be able to see the thick fog that surrounds the Borobudur Temple.
Here are a list of shots of Borobudur during my trip there. Enjoy.
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