Category Archives: The Golden Lands Book

The Golden Lands Book – Frequently Asked Questions

The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall - JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press, September 2014 - international/publisher-direct ISBN 9789670138039

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.

Golden Lands pages about the Dau Pagoda in Vietnam
Golden Lands pages about the Dau Pagoda in Vietnam

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.

The Golden Lands book cover front and rear.
The Golden Lands book cover front and rear.

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 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.

Vikram Lall Borobudur diagram from The Golden Lands book
Vikram Lall Borobudur diagram from The Golden Lands 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
  • Travellers to send in photos and reflections to share with our online community in Facebook 
  • Buddhists, Buddhist Studies experts, Asia historians, and Architects to feed back on the topics of the book
  • Would-be writers and editors with book ideas
  • Museums, galleries for author lectures and exhibitions
  • Book clubs and societies for discount book offers for members


[email protected] or click here for our contact form

The Buddhist Society (London), September 2014 – January 2015 Events / Public Lectures

Logo of the Buddhist Society

The Buddhist Society

EVENTS, PUBLIC LECTURES & Art History and Culture Talks

FREE admission; 58 Ecclestone Square, London SW1V 1PH

Book Event: Architecture of The Buddhist World – The Golden Lands by Vikram Lall
Wednesday 3rd September 2014 at 6.30 pm

The Prisoner of Kathmandu: Brian Hodgson and the beginnings of Buddhist Studies by Charles Allen.
Wednesday 10th September 2014

The Miraculous 16th Karmapa – talk and book event by Norma Levine
Wednesday 17th September 2014 at 6.30 pm

‘Kindfulness’ by Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (Ajahn Brahm)
Wednesday 15th October 2014 from 6:30-7:30pm

Yoga and Buddhism: How are they related? by Professor Karel Werner
Wednesday 22nd October 2014 at 6.30 pm

Tales from Vimalakirti by Martin Goodson
Wednesday 19th November 2014 at 6.30 pm

The Colours of Heaven Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) Artist and Visionary by Alexander Maitland
Wednesday 10th December 2014 at 6.30 pm

A 49 day Chan (Zen) retreat by Eric Johns (Yan Li)
Wednesday 28th January 2015 at 6.30 pm

For more information please see the Buddhist Society website and/or The Middle Way.

Join us for a lecture on Buddhist Architecture at The Buddhist Society, 58 Eccleston Square on 3rd September 2014 - Image credit Kevin Gordon
Join us for a lecture on Buddhist Architecture at The Buddhist Society, 58 Eccleston Square on 3rd September 2014 – Image credit Kevin Gordon

The Buddhist Society

58 Eccleston Square , London SW1V 1PH (Victoria Station 5 mins. Walk) 020 7834 5858

There are also talks and courses on Zen, Tibetan, Pureland and Theravada Buddhism as well as practice and meditation classes.

Southeast Asia Tour Companies List

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.

Over 100 Tour Companies listed by country and type!
Over 100 Tour Companies listed by country and type!

Please click here to visit the full mind map including text and clickable links.

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.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta, and nearby: a 7-Day Itinerary

Borobudur temple - photo by thrillseekr
Borobudur temple – photo by thrillseekr

DAY 1 – Introducing Yogyakarta

1200-1500: Hotel Check-In; freshen up

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.

Price: FREE

Motor scooter rental: IDR 50.000 for 24 hours

Taxi: ca. IDR 25000 for 15 minutes

Vredeburg Fortress in Yogyakarta - photo by  Landhes Bregas Manuhara
Vredeburg Fortress in Yogyakarta – photo by Landhes Bregas Manuhara

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

Bank Indonesia, Yogyakarta - photo by Orangescale Studio
Bank Indonesia, Yogyakarta – photo by Orangescale Studio

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.

Price: FREE


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.

Borobudur - photo by Peter Jackson
Borobudur – photo by Peter Jackson

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):


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.

Pawon Temple - photo by  Pandu Adnyana
Pawon Temple – photo by Pandu Adnyana

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.

Inside Candi Mendut - photo by  Prayudi Hartono
Inside Candi Mendut – photo by Prayudi Hartono

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.

Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta - photo by  Bryn Pinzgauer
Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta – photo by Bryn Pinzgauer

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.

Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta - photo by Suanie
Ramayana Ballet, Prambanan, Yogyakarta – photo by Suanie

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

Candi Lumbung - photo by Flip Nomad
Candi Lumbung – photo by Flip Nomad

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.

Candi Sewu - photo by Marie
Candi Sewu – photo by Marie

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

Candi Banyunibo – By 井上 光 (プランバナン、インドネシア) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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

Candi Kalasan - photo by  Photo Dharma
Candi Kalasan – photo by Photo Dharma

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

Candi Sari - photo by Photo Dharma
Candi Sari – photo by Photo Dharma

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

13:00: Lunch

King Boko Palace - photo by Chauromano
King Boko Palace – photo by Chauromano

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: and [email protected]

18:30: Back to your hotel

Candi Plaosan - photo by  Doni Ismanto
Candi Plaosan – photo by
Doni Ismanto

 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.

Entry fee: FREE
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 09.00 – 16.00

10:00: Departure towards the airport

Recommended Hotels in Yogyakarta:

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta –Mgallery Collection*****
Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9, 55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856; email: [email protected]

Jambuluwuk Malioboro Boutique Hotel****
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
Jalan AM Sangaji No 72a, 55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 641 5555, Fax: +62 274 641 5588; email: [email protected]

Recommended Transport:

Driver + private vehicle:

ADAM Jogja Transport, standby at the airport
Tel.: +62 823 2389 7555, +62 858 7834 6106, +62 877 3936 5095
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).

Good morning Borobudur - photo by Dennis Stauffer
Good morning Borobudur – photo by Dennis Stauffer

Article research and text: Kian

Photo selection via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – please contact us for amendments and attribution improvements.

Visiting Myanmar? Don’t Miss These Most Famous Buddhist Monuments

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 Pagoda - photo by Paul Arps
Shwedagon Pagoda – photo by Paul Arps

Shwedagon Pagoda

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.

Mahamuni Paya - Photo by Glenn Forbes
Mahamuni Paya – Photo by Glenn Forbes

Mahamuni Paya

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 - photo by Glenn Forbes
Ananda Pahto – photo by Glenn Forbes

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”.