The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall – JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press, September 2014 – international/publisher-direct ISBN 9789670138039
Here are some answers to frequent questions about The Golden Lands book – and please feel free to add comments on this post or contact us with further questions.
What is the book about?
This is a study of the architectural history of Buddhist stupas, temples, monasteries, and temple complexes, through the eyes of a professional architect, covering many famous historical (and living Buddhist) monuments in Southeast Asia, as well as documenting a series of lesser-known sites.
The book is in “coffee table” size and is extensively illustrated with beautiful colour photographs, as well as diagrams and maps.
Eventually the whole (planned six book) Architecture of the Buddhist World series will extend this survey to cover all regions of the world up to and including modern Buddhist architecture.
What’s significant about the book?
Firstly, there are very few books exclusively focusing on the architecture of Buddhist sites, as mostly studies focus on art, sculpture, history, or religious use. These aspects are not ignored in our book, but the author, Vikram Lall, being a professional architect as well as academic lecturer means that we have focused on the history and interpretation of the architecture as the main theme.
Secondly, significant fresh research is presented in the book through over 100 3D architectural diagrams, for which the editorial team undertook extensive travel and surveying work at many different sites. These diagrams offer new insights to the layout, symbolism, and structural design of the buildings and complexes.
What type of reader is the book aimed at?
Thanks to the beautiful presentation and lucid text, the book is suitable for an educated lay audience, as well as being authoritative and rigorous for academic consumption.
Knowledgeable architects and historians will enjoy the fresh look at the wide range of different sites, and newcomers to the subject will surely be inspired to plan their first (or more cultural) travels to these countries.
What’s included in the book?
The book starts with a general historical and architectural introduction, and then has 6 sections, one for each country in the following generally historical order: Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. In each country section there is a general survey and then several specific sites are analyzed. A full contents listing can be found here.
What was the inspiration for this book?
JF Publishing is an independent publisher and we have always been focused on books that bring amazing cultural and spiritual discoveries to our readers, with titles ranging from a best-selling guide to Qigong for busy executives, to a lavishly illustrated introduction to the world’s most beautiful gardens.
With this latest series, we wish to contribute a lasting reference for Buddhists to some of their wonders of the world, in particular from a rigorous historical and architectural point of view, which is so important when it comes to modern-day conservation and informing future generations of caretakers of these sacred places.
Meanwhile we aim to make these beautiful and inspiring places better known to non-Buddhists across the world, firstly to architects who may begin the study from a professional basis and be drawn into some of the wider wonders, and secondly to intellectually curious art and history lovers worldwide who might have missed out on so much of this crucial world culture in a mainly western-oriented education system.
What other materials are available?
We are publishing many general-interest articles on this site architectureofbuddhism.com around the topics of The Golden Lands, travel to Southeast Asia, and Buddhism generally. We will also release a series of free maps to complement the book.
What are the launch events?
The first launch events will be from 1st September 2014 in London, with a series of book signings in other cities internationally in the months after: please see the separate list of events on this site.
Can I get involved?
We would love to hear from you for–
Bookshops interested in hosting signings or wishing to sell the book
Media, writers and publications to review the book
Researchers and bloggers to contribute to our free online materials
There are so many options for tours around the countries featured in our Golden Lands Buddhist architecture book: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. All the big international companies offer readymade tours for a range of budgets, but for each country there are also more specialized and local tours available, if you search a bit deeper. There are also tour companies offering packages for adventure travel, culture, diving, pilgrimage, and rail journeys.
To help you discover some of the best options for SE Asia travel, we’ve researched and put together a mind map of the tour companies.
The following image is a preview of our mind map, and see the link below for the full web page.
Some of the tour companies have Twitter accounts, and we’ve gathered the ones which are more focused on these particular countries (not big generalists) into a Twitter list of Southeast Asia Tour Companies here, so you can subscribe to all their feeds with one click.
15:00: Visit the Tugu, Jogja’s most famous landmark:
For some people the Tugu might look familiar, as there is a bigger version in Jakarta. It has quite some stories to tell with an age of almost 300 years. The legend goes, that when students graduate from any university in Yogyakarta, they will come over to hug the Tugu and being thankful for passing all exams and for future success in life and on work.
Motor scooter rental: IDR 50.000 for 24 hours
Taxi: ca. IDR 25000 for 15 minutes
15:30: Visit the Vredeburg Fortress:
Leave the Tugu via Jalan Malioboro, the hub of Yogyakarta. Have a short glimpse of bicycle-rickshaw drivers, shops in various sizes, fast food chains next to Warungs (small local restaurants).
The Vredeburg Fortress was a former Dutch fortress, but serves now as museum. Learn about the Dutch colonization of Indonesia until 1949.
Entry fee: IDR 3000 per person (US$ 0.30) Opening times: Tue-Thu: 08.30-13.30, Fri: 08.30-11.00, Sat&Sun: 08.30-12.00 Tel.: +62 274 586934 and +62 274 510996 Web: / Address: Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani 6
17:30: See colonial Dutch architecture:
Now it is time to explore the surroundings by walking. Leave the Vredeburg Fortress and stroll around its neighbourhood; visit the nearby ‘Bank Indonesia’ or ‘POS Indonesia’ and see the colonial buildings which are in fantastic shape. On the opposite you can find lots of hawkers, selling silver jewellery at affordable prices.
19:00: Indulge into Indonesia’s cuisine:
It’s time for an early dinner, since we have to leave early for Borobudur in the morning. Yogyakarta boasts all kinds of restaurants, from street food to splurge.
Recommendation: Start with Indonesia’s national dish, “Nasi Goreng” (fried rice), caution: It might be spicy! Tell the waiter: “Sedikit panas” (slightly spicy).
Price: start: IDR 10.000 (US$ 1) per meal
DAY 2: Borobudur Temple, Pawon & Mendut
04:00: Leave Yogyakarta in the early morning by a pre-booked bus or via private driver towards Borobudur, the single largest Buddhist structure on earth. Arrive right before sunset and climb up the top to see the sun rising.
Location: approx. 40km from Yogyakarta Entry: IDR230.000, ca. US$ 20 per person Transport: private car-with-driver rental recommended; Prices for full day (8-10 hours): Web: www.borobudurpark.com
12:00: Only located 2 kilometres away from Borubudur, lays the Pawon Temple, the midpoint of the Three Buddha Temples. It is located right on the axis lines connecting Mendut and Borobudur.
Location: 1.75 km northeast of Borobudur Entry: IDR 3300 per person for Mendut and Pawon Temple Opening Hours: Mon-Sun from 07.00 – 18.00
13:30: Visit the third important Buddhist temple, the Mendut Temple. Different from Borobudur, which faces the rising sun, Mendut is faced westwards.
Location: 1.15 km to the southwest of Pawon Entry: IDR 3300 per person for Mendut and Pawon Temple Opening Hours: Mon-Sun from 07.00 – 18.00
16:00: Back to your hotel
DAY 3: Candi Prambanan Complex
09:00: Start your day by exploring Yogyakarta’s famous road Jalan Malioboro by trishaw, the tricycle-/ rickshaw combination.
You will find them all over. Don’t forget to haggle down the price you first get offered, it should cost not more than IDR 10.000-15.000 per ride.
12:00: Check out from your hotel in Yogyakarta and leave towards the impressive Prambanan temple complex. Check-in new hotel.
15:00: Start with yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hindu Temple of Prambanan, built in honor of Lord Shiva and explore its compound of more than 200 temples. See the very interesting similarities between the previous visited Buddhist temple Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan. Once finished exploring the grounds, book a ticket for the Prambanan ballet at night.
Location: about 17km south west of Yogyakarta Entry: IDR 210.000 per person Transport: Taxi: ca. IDR 50.000, around 20 minutes Opening Hours: 06.00 to 18.00, ticket sell closes at 17:15. Ballet at Prambanan: Tickets range between IDR 100.000 – 350.000, depending on seat location Food: – Local food hawkers selling traditional Indonesian everywhere around the temple – Abhayagiri Restaurant: Address: Dusun Sumberwatu, Sambirejo, Prambanan; Tel.: +62 446 9277 and +62 821 3453 5000 – Kali Opak Restaurant: Address: Bokoharjo village, Ngablak, Prambanan; Tel.: +62 274 652 2976
DAY 4: Candi Sewu Complex
09:00: Start the day by visiting Candi Bubrah a Buddhist temple now in ruins and Candi Lumbung (Javanese: “Rice Barn Temple”), a temple which dates back to the 9th century.
The main temple is surrounded by 16 smaller temples. Both temples are located just a few hundred meters away from Prambanan.
Then head over to Candi Sewu, located only 800m north of Prambanan and easily reached by walking. Candi Sewu means 1000 temples, but has in fact 253 buildings. It is the second largest Buddhist temple in Java, Borobudur being the largest.
13:30: Get energized! Have lunch at the ‘Abhayagiri Restaurant’ which offers casual dining with stunning views towards the Prabanan Temple and Mount Merapi.
Entry fee Candi Sewu, Bubrah, Lumbung: Included in Prambanan ticket.
*Note: No up to date information about whether Prambanan offers multiple day passes like Angkor in Cambodia does. The guests might purchase every day a new ticket or ask for information in advance at [email protected] Opening times: Mon-Sun 06.00-17.30
Lunch: as per consumption
15:30: Take a short drive towards Banyunibo – The temple in the middle of the field. The complex consists of one main temple and six supplementary temples. Banyunibo is situated in Cepit Hamlet, Bokoharjo Village.
Entry fee: FREE
18:30: Back to your hotel
DAY 5: Candi Kalasan, Candi Sari and King Boko Palace:
09:00: Now it’s time to visit Candi Kalasan, also known as Tara Temple. Though not considered as the most famous temple around Yogyakarta, Borobudur, it is the oldest Buddhism heritage site in Yogyakarta.
The building also inspired Atisha, a Buddhist from India who once visited Borobudur and spread Buddhism to Tibet. Candi Kalasan is located approx. 2km from the Prambanan Temple and reachable by walking.
Opening times: Mon-Sun 06.00-18.00 Entry fees: IDR 2000 per person
11:30: Visit Candi Sari, an interesting temple from the 8th century, which also served as dormitory for Buddhist monks. It is only 130 metres northeast from Kalasan Temple.
Opening times: 09.00 to 17.00 Entry fees: IDR 2000
15:00: King Boko Palace was a luxurious building which is now a large archaeological site located almost 200m above the sea level and covers almost 15 ha. Its distance to Prambanan is about 3km. You are further able to see and visit Candi Batu Putih and Candi Pembakaran and the Pendopo (audience hall), which also features a number of small temples / shrines in its surrounding.
Opening times: Entry fees: IDR 150.000 per person, special package prices available Web: www.borobudurpark.com and [email protected]
18:30: Back to your hotel
DAY 6: Candi Plaosan
09:00: Check out from your hotel. (Option 1)
09:30-15:30: Today you will visit yet another impressive complex: Candi Plaosan. Located 1km north of Prambanan, the complex is divided into north -and south temple. Since both temples look very similar to each other, they are often called ‘twin temples’.
Candi Plaosan is surrounded by rice paddies, offering a picturesque landscape. It is made up of 116 stupas and 58 shrines. Take your time to discover the temple.
16:00: Back to Yogyakarta and hotel check-in (Option 1) or remain at the hotel near Prambanan until tomorrow (Option 2) >> This option is best if you would like to see/experience/buy anything from Yogyakarta.
19:30: Dinner in Prambanan (Opt.1) or time for a special cup of coffee in Yogyakarta (Opt.2)
Visit Angkringan Malioboro, next to the famous road Jalan Malioboro for a so called Kopi Jos. Sidewalks with carpets spread on are turned into coffee shops at night and you can see locals from all walks of life sipping coffee and eating Gorengan (tasty small fried snacks, e.g. fried tofu or banana). Tip: try Tape, a fermented rice drink!
Afterwards you can stroll on Jalan Malioboro for some last impressions and to buy souvenirs for family and loved ones.
Entry fee Plaosan: IDR 3000 Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 06.00-17.30 Prices Kopi Jus: Around IDR 25000 for 2 persons.
DAY 7: Candi Sambisari & transfer to airport
08:00: Check-out from your hotel >> if you are still in Prambanan, it would be best to check out by 07.30.
08:30: Before flying out of Yogyakarta, you will visit the Sambisari temple, located close to the airport. Actually a Hindu temple, it was buried about five meters underground and only accidentally discovered by a farmer in 1966. It took an impressive 21 years to reconstruct the temple piece by piece.
The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta –Mgallery Collection***** www.mgallery.com Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9, 55233 Yogyakarta Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856; email: [email protected]
Jambuluwuk Malioboro Boutique Hotel**** www.jambuluwuk.co.id Jalan Gajah Mada No 67, 55112 Yogyakarta Tel.: +62 274 58 56 55; Fax: +62 274 58 56 15
Recommended Hotels near Prambanan: Hotel Tentrem****, 1.2km from Prambanan www.hoteltentrem.com Jalan AM Sangaji No 72a, 55233 Yogyakarta Tel.: +62 274 641 5555, Fax: +62 274 641 5588; email: [email protected]
Driver + private vehicle:
ADAM Jogja Transport, standby at the airport Tel.: +62 823 2389 7555, +62 858 7834 6106, +62 877 3936 5095 Example: Toyota Avanza 1.3 M/T, 7 seater, 12 hours = IDR 325.000 Excluding: Fuel, entry fees Fuel: IDR 6500 per litre
Honda Vario or similar: IDR 50.000 per 24 hours Note: There are many shops renting motorbikes, best to ask the concierge / front desk staff (who might put commission on top).
Article research and text: Kian
Photo selection via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – please contact us for amendments and attribution improvements.
Myanmar (Burma) is one of the best places in Asia to see Buddhist architecture and monuments. All over the country are countless iconic sights and pagodas. Here are three of the top Buddhist monuments to see on a visit to the country.
Shwedagon is the major Buddhist monument in Burma and is a landmark in Yangon. There has been a religious site here for over 2500 years and the golden stupa has been rebuilt several times; the latest in 1769.
Gilding the stupa began in the 15th century and today the golden zedi has thousands of tons of gold around its structure. At the very top are thousands of diamonds with a single 76 carat gem at the tip of the orb.
All around the zedi are smaller shrines for worship and a constant movement of people walking around the religious site, many in prayer.
In Mandalay the huge Buddha at Mahamuni Paya is a famous Buddhist monument. Believed by many to be over 2000 years old the site is of major religious significance with followers visiting each day.
The massive statue was seized from Mrauk U in 1784 and housed in Mandalay ever since. A frieze of paintings in the pagoda highlights this story.
So much gold has been applied over the years that Mahamuni Paya is covered in 6 inches of the metal!
Each evening Buddha is put to sleep in a ceremony when a cloth covers his face.
Ananda Pahto, Bagan
There are over 4000 Buddhist temples in Bagan and one of the most famous is Ananda Pahto. The distinctive temple architecture is renowned in itself but this paya is famed for its four wooden statues of Buddha. These depict Buddha’s life in the various forms such as the hand position depicting teaching.
The temple is also renowned for its gold glimmering hti and is thought to be a style typical of the early Bagan period.
In Myanmar there are thousands of examples of Buddhist architecture to see from renowned monuments to simple stupas, and even undiscovered structures in jungle areas. Follow us on Twitter or Subscribe to this blog to get more travel and history information about Buddhist sites in Burma and other “Golden Lands”.
The first ever art historical survey focusing comprehensively on the Architecture of the Buddhist World