On the final day of our Borobudur region trip, we were taken to the Prambanan Park area, a sacred area where Hinduism and Buddhism thrived. Here, we were treated to not only the biggest and grandest Hindu temple complex in S.E Asia, known as Prambanan, but also some of the oldest and most interesting Buddhist temples which were located in the same park.
The Prambanan Temple complex is Hindu and was built in 850 CE to 856 CE (after Borobodur and before Angkor), and by the Sanjaya Dynasty after the Shailendras were driven out of Java and back to Palembang in Sumatra. But the Sanjayites did not destroy the Buddhist temples already built nearby (Candi Sari, Kalasan, Lumbang, Plaosan and Sewu) but kept them, out of deference perhaps to the wife of the Hindu king, who was Buddhist and a member of the previous Buddhist Shailendra dynasty. It was also interesting to note that Hinduism in Java was not exactly the same as in India. When Hinduism took hold in Java, just as in the case of Buddhism, it incorporated part of the Javanese customs and traditions.
The Prambanan complex of temples consist of the biggest one in the centre dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, the destroyer with Vishnu (the preserver) and Brahma (the creator) on either side and their vehicles in front. These are the Hindu trinity or Makti. Just as in the case of India, the temple to Shiva dominates here. In fact, in India, there are very few temples dedicated to Brahma. Most are dedicated to Shiva and in northern India to Vishnu.
The consort of Shiva is Durga and there is a temple dedicated to Durga in the grounds and to Ganesha, Shiva’s son, half elephant, half man. The main shrine has a huge 3 meter high statue of Shiva and of Durga on the side as well as Ganesha. In all the balsutrades and walls, there are some very exquisite carvings showing a very level of Sri Vijayan art.
This post covers Day 2 of 3 from the travel diary by Joan Foo Mahony, publisher of Architecture of the Buddhist World book series. Part One can be found here.
DAY TWO – BOROBODUR
3 am! It would be an early start, but I was too excited to sleep anyway. I jumped out of bed even before the alarm went at 2 am. Off we went in the dark towards one of the wonders of the world – for me it IS the wonder of the Buddhist world.
That day was also the day of the full moon so it was such an auspicious day to view Borobodur.
This was the highlight of the trip and we would be spending half a day at Borobodur itself. After a longish drive at 3 am in the morning, we arrived at the Borobodur Park and the Manohara Hotel on the ground to begin the morning hike to the temples to be there for the sunrise at 5:45 am. With flashlights, hiking shoes and stick in tow, we headed off in pitch black of the early morning climbing over the precarious stones. In spite of the darkness, I could see the magnificent silhouettes of the Buddhas and stupas looming in the distance and I had to hold my breath in anticipation. Then, after climbing over all the 10 terraces to the very top, we sat quietly, facing east – the mountains ( and the volcanoes of Merapi and Merbabu ) and the sunrise in the distance. We began our morning puja with Brother Tan and meditated, the ancient stones resonating with our Pali prayers. Borobodur – seeing the monuments at sunrise – sings and thrills the heart. Continue reading Temples of the Borobudur Region – Travel Diary, Day Two (Borobudur Temple Visit)→
This post covers Day 1 of 3 from the travel diary by Joan Foo Mahony, publisher of Architecture of the Buddhist World book series. Part 2 here.
TEMPLES OF THE BOROBODUR REGION, Jogjakarta, Indonesia
18th to 22nd September 2013
Through the kindness of Brother Dr. H.S Tan, the founder of the Nalanda Institute in Kuala Lumpur, I was one of his fortunate forty-five students who were invited on this trip to Borobodur to see one of the wonders of the Buddhist world.
These are my notes of a remarkable dharmic journey.
DAY ONE – CANDI MENDUT
Candi Mendut, located 3 km from the Borobodur temple complex was built in 760 CE, at the height of the Shailendra dynasty during the Sri Vijaya period, about 10 years before the huge temple complex of Borobodur itself was actually built. However, it is believed that when Candi Mendut was built, this was done specifically with Borobodur in mind. It was part of the builders’ grand design.
Candi Mendut faces west towards Borobodur and is located 3 km eastwards from it The smaller Candi Pawon lies in between in a straight line. Candi Pawon is about 1 km away from Borobodur. A pilgrim in those days who travelled to see the wonders of Borobodur would thus be travelling along this straight line in this area now called the Kedu Plains, arriving first at Candi Mendut; then to the next temple, Candi Pawon; and then finally reaching Borobodur.
As they journey, the pilgrims would cross the two rivers of Elo and Progo, the waters of the rivers symbolically purifying them.
‘Candi’ refers to ancient structures based on the Indian type of single-celled shrine, with a pyramidal tower above it, and a portico. The term Candi is given as a prefix to the many Hindu and Buddhist temples which are pre-Islamic in origin in Indonesia, built as a representation of the Cosmic Mount Meru.
Candi Mendut is a small but absolutely exquisite temple ; a stand-alone single structure set in a small peaceful garden by a great big tree.
As a single structure, Candi Mendut differs from the other temples of Borobodur and the Jogjakarta region as they are all a complex of temples. It is as a single structure that accounts for its beauty; its stunning simplicity and form built more than 1,000 years ago. It is perfectly balanced and symmetrical and although the top of the Candi is no longer visible, one can imagine how beautiful it once must have been. Even without the topmost part, Candi Mendut reflects a quiet dignity. To be able to be there up close and seeing this exquisite jewel of a temple is such a pleasure and a privilege.
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What are the highlights of this tour, and who is it for?
The main theme of this tour is to help travellers learn about history of Buddhism and Hinduism with their rich history of ceremonies, monuments, temples and arts. This is a favourite tour for those who love historical travel and want to find out about the centuries of Indonesian history before Muslim and Christian religions arrived.
Aside from history and architecture, action highlights include white water rafting and hiking to Merapi Volcano sites.
The tour starts from Yogyakarta: is this the base for day visits?
Not for everything. In order to avoid spending long hours driving, we do 2 nights in Yogyakarta and 3 nights in Borobudur and we visit sites on the drive from Jogja to Borobudur or vice versa.
We have carefully selected a number of well-established travel agencies in Indonesia, as we understand the importance of professional travel planning. All operators below have years, some even decades, of travel planning experience in Indonesia, are among the top experts and awarded with numerous travel awards as well accredited by leading travel associations like IATA or PATA.
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Tel.: +62 274 484 674, +62 484 685 Certifications:
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Pacto was founded in 1967 and is recognized as one of the pioneers of tourism in Indonesia.
Located in the heart of Siem Reap, in the Old French Quarter only 8 kilometres from the extraordinary Angkor Wat temple complex, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is the ideal place to explore the spiritual and archaeological masterwork. Relax and revitalise beside a magnificent pool inspired by Angkorian architecture or take a short stroll along the riverside to discover the vibrant local markets.
Located steps from the Opera House in Hanoi’s French Quarter this legendary property brings guests into intimate contact with the opulence of another era. Surround yourself in heritage as you stroll stately corridors and explore a dramatic past. Behind its classical white façade green shutters original wrought iron details and stately wood panelling reside over a century of stories. Stand on the walkways that grace its lush courtyard lawn and immerse yourself in the hotels rich traditions.
Temple sites nearby:
Tran Quoc Pagaoda – 4km
Chua Dau Pagoda – 30km outside of Hanoi, Thuan Thanh district
Temple of Literature – 2.5km
In the heart of bustling Vientiane stands a remarkable hotel. Built in the early part of the last century, circa 1932, and painstakingly restored to its former imperial glory, the Settha Palace Hotel serves as testament to the long lost era of classical elegance, gracious service and French colonial charm.
Temple sites nearby:
Pha That Luang – 3.5km
Wat Sisaket – 800m
Wat Mixai – 1km
Declared “the finest hostelry East of Suez” by John Murray in his Handbook for Travellers written in the early 20th century, the 1901-built three storey 5 star hotel in Yangon remains one of Southeast Asia’s few grand hotels and one of its most awe inspiring.
The Siam is the newest addition to, and crown jewel of, the growing portfolio of independently owned and operated properties that make up Sukosol Hotels. The Siam spirit is to create a luxury experience embracing every moment and every individual with sincerity and integrity and a passion for service.
Temple sites nearby:
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing – 11km
Wat Arun – 8km
Wat Pho – 6km
Located in the heart of Yogyakarta, near the popular Malioboro district, the historic Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, a member of theMgallery Collection, is a colonial landmark dating back to 1918. With 144 elegant rooms and suites, each boasting a balcony and a fusion of Asian and European décor, The Phoenix Hotel features a restaurant, wine bar and terrace bar overlooking an open courtyard. An inviting swimming pool, indulgent day spa and modern conferencing facilities complete the exclusive experience.
Yogyakarta is blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. Generally speaking, the days are hot and humid, with only two seasons per year: the rainy season and the dry season. November to March is dominated by strong rainfall, therefore it is recommended to visit Yogyakarta during the dry season from April to October.
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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
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):
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Entry fees: IDR 150.000 per person, special package prices available
Web: www.borobudurpark.com and email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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@example.com
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).
Article research and text: Kian
Photo selection via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 – please contact us for amendments and attribution improvements.
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