Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur

Venetia Stanley

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Borobudur Temple – A must see in Java

Whilst staying at Amanjiwo, I had the incredible experience of exploring the Borobudur Temple compound. The World Heritage UNESCO site is a 25-minute walk from Amanjiwo and is one of the world’s best preserved ancient monuments, a must during any holidays in Java.

Venetia's holidays in Java
Venetia in Borobudur Java

Accompanied by the most amazing guide, who has worked in Java for more than 30 years, I walked around the magnificent temple as I was informed about everything, from how the ruins were discovered to the ongoing challenges and conservation projects underway to preserve the history and fragile infrastructure. What was fascinating about the site is that it lay undiscovered for years, only to be found in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. My visit began with an in-depth description of its construction during the Sailendra dynasty and a look at the intricate stone carvings that display legends and stories, all of which have great philosophical and theological significance.

Guide at Borobudur in Java

I also learnt how the superstructure perfectly accords with the conception of the universe in Buddhist cosmology; it is believed that the universe is divided into three superimposing spheres, and the structure of the temple represents these three layers. My guide told me all about the different directions you can walk around the site, each representing its own unique meaning.

The best time to visit Borobudur is at dawn, when you can watch the sun rise over the 9th century Buddha, with sweeping views of the volcanic landscape beyond. Rich in history, it is a remarkable place, and I was fascinated by how the Indonesians have maintained Borobudur as part of their heritage.