The originally suggested time of departure for our group to Borobudur (near Yogyakarta, Indonesia) was 3.30 am. I groaned loudly when I read that WhatsApp message. And then the members of our group argued for an even earlier start at 3.00 am because they wanted nice pictures of the sunrise! Have you ever met a group of bloggers who were ready to get up earlier than what the hosts suggested? Well, that was my group on the Trip of Wonders organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia.
These days if I am too tired, I fear an injury. When I started climbing the steep steps of Borobudur with the help of a flashlight, I was extra cautious. Soon, I got my rhythm though. I quickly reached the top, gave one look at the crowd and decide not to chase the sunrise. There was mist too, and I was almost certain that the sunrise was going to give us a miss! It has happened to me so many times at so many places that I just shrug it off now! I didn’t expect Borobudur to be so crowded at sunrise too.
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is in the shape of mandala (the universe), it is a sight to behold. It is said to be built around 750 AD. The 29 meter high structure is built from more than 2000 stones. The temple is built on the interlocking system, no mortar has been used in its construction. Its construction is attributed to the Sailendra Dynasty with its roots in South India.
But this 29 meter high structure went out of the human memory around 1500 AD. The site got covered with volcanic ashes and Borobudur passed out of history! Mount Merapi is still an active volcano in the vicinity.
Borobudur was rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. However Dutch East India company who occupied Indonesia gave away a lot of material from the site in 1896. The mind boggles at such a thought.
We reached the Manohara Center of Borobudur Study before the gates were open to the public. The center also serves as a hotel. The hotel guests are allowed to proceed before the public. At the entrance they give you the flashlight and if you return it they give you a scarf as a souvenir. The nearest town to Borobudur is Yogyakarta which is 40 kilometers away. The foreigner entrance fee for the sunrise ticket is 40 US dollars and the normal ticket is 30 US Dollars.
My time at the top of the monument was largely spent in scouting for pictures! I would get awed at the timeless structure and then I would get engrossed in finding a decent photo opportunity again.
I walked around the mid level where the jataka panels are when I headed back to the base of the monument. I went back to the Manohara Center of Borobudur Study to have my breakfast. They had vegetarian options.
The sunrise At Borobudur was watery but the experience was magical. I will remember it for a long time to come!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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