Borobudur Temple Compounds, Central Java

Borobudur is not a stranger to the world-traveling scene; being a unique Buddhist temple in Asia, it is also the largest Buddhist structure on earth. This 8th-century stupa and temple complex in Central Java, Indonesia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Many travelers came here to experience the wonders of this structure and note its unique differences from the other Buddhist temples in terms of architecture and the details of its construction and also the grandness of it. Borobudur is also set against a backdrop of volcanoes, enhancing the drama of the place.

Full view of Borobudur Temple Compounds

Full view of Borobudur Temple Compounds

History and Facts

There is no exact detailed written record of Borobudur in terms of who built it and why is it created. It is theorized to be made as a religious site in the 8th century during the Sailendra dynasty of central Java. For centuries, Borobudur had been lost to Indonesia until following an Anglo-Dutch Java War, the British governor at that time, Thomas Stamford Raffles, took an interest in the history and mystics of Java.

They therefore investigated and aided in unearthing this amazing monument once again. Raffles are also responsible for the re-discovery of Prambanan, another major religious structure, this one Hindu not far from Borobudur.

Statues and relief panels at Borobudur Temple

Statues and relief panels at Bormbudur Temple

Borobudur was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1991 after its fully restored. It had become a major international tourist attraction with its 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, and detailed wall carvings. Borobudur consists of six square platforms, and the highest point is 35 m from the ground.

Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with no less than 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues of various types. The main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The square base is 118 m (387 ft) long on each side, and the highest point is 35 m (114 ft) above ground level. Borobudur’s distinctive shape and structure is the dome and its three circular symmetrical terraces. There are also six different postures of Buddha as you ascend the platforms. The wall reliefs recount the life stories of Buddha, from the law of Karma to the birth of Buddha and his journey toward searching for the ultimate truth.

Relief panels / wall carvings of Borobudur Temple

Relief panels / wall carvings of Borobudur Temple

Where is it

It is located in the Magelang district of Central Java, about an hour’s drive from Yogyakarta.

Why visit

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist structure in the world, and it is unique and different from the rest of the Buddhist temples around Asia.

When is the best time to go

Lanterns at night during Waisak in Borobudur

Lanterns at night during Waisak in Borobudur

If you want to experience Waisak in Borobudur, you should go around May and check for the exact dates of the celebration for the year.

Else most of the time is good for visiting Borobudur, whether it is the dry season (April – October) or wet season (November – March) of the two seasoned Indonesia.

The dry season will have a peak of tourists and also can be hot, while the wet season will see rain later in the day, so go early for your visit.

Where to Stay at Borobudur Temple

The most recommended place to stay at Borobudur temple is the Manohara Resort *. Here you can catch the temple at the dawn of light (when you pay for the sunrise tour) or at least be the first to go in when it opens at 8 am. This is the best way to enjoy the temple when it is quiet, with just a trickle of travelers like you who appreciate the silence and marvel at the beauty with respect.

-> Check out Manohara Hotel’s latest prices at Booking.com * or Agoda.com *

Fees

The entry fee to Borobudur is 25 USD for non-Indonesian Adults and 15 USD for children under 6. It is 40,000 Rp for Indonesians or foreign holders of work permits.

Borobudur Sunrise tour with the Manohara Hotel * will get you in early to catch the sunrise and explore for an hour before the rest of the tourists flock to the place.

Hire a guide to explain reliefs will cost about 95,000 – 120,000 Rp per hour. Agree on the price with your guide before starting, and it is best to tour in the morning when it is not too busy.

Alternatively, catch the sunrise over Borobodur at Punthuk Setumbu Hill *.

Sunrise Tour at Borobudur Temple at Borobudur Temple

Sunrise Tour at Borobudur Temple

Opening Times

Open to the public from 6 am to 5 pm, but only those with sunrise tours can get in before 8 am. For walk-ins, you can get in at 8 am.

Get in and get around

Buddha statue against the sun, Borobudur

Buddha statue against the sun, Borobudur

From Yogyakarta to Borobudur, you can take the public bus or hire a car to get there.

From Wonosobo to Borobudur – catch a public bus heading towards Yogyakarta and drop off at Borobudur.

From Jakarta to Borobudur – take a train to Purwokerto and then connect with a bus to Wonosobo and onwards to Borobudur.

From Surabaya to Borobudur – hire a car to get there or take a bus/train to Yogyakarta before connecting to Borobudur.

Nearby tourist attractions

Prambanan – well known ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu), and also the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound lies just 18km east of Yogyakarta and would take 102 hours by car to get there.
Yogyakarta – head back or onwards to Yogyakarta as there are lots of things to do in Yogyakarta.
Mount Bromo – a volcano in East Java popular for the crater’s sunrise view. Many travelers attest to this one, don’t miss out!

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Borobudur Temple Compounds upclose

Travel Tips

Try to go in at the earliest hours open to the public to truly enjoy this massive and unique Buddhist temple. You will appreciate the serenity and peace and fully immerse in its significance without the hordes of tourists spoiling it. If you do not want to pay for the sunrise tour, get in at 8 am once it is open for walk-in; the effort is well worth it.

Photo credits from top: Prayudi Hartono, Rachel, Rachel, Imam Hartoyo, Thrillseekr, Rachel and Rachel

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2 Comments

  1. Hi my girlfriend and I have just arrived in Yogyakarta and have 3 full days to sight see here, we want to do the 2 main temple complexs Borobudur and prambanan, how long do you think we need to do each one in terms of hours ?

    1. For me, it would take at least comfortably 2 hours each to see a temple compound and with that, you should also factor in the time to travel between the temples too. Half day to a full day would be good for both temples.

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