Sunrise at the Borobudur Temple

Sunrise at the Borobudur Temple

It was 3am when I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes, and stumbled onto the hostel’s patio to wait for the van to pick me up. The agenda? Watch the sunrise over Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Built in the 8th or 9th century, the temple was a place of worship until it was abandoned some time between the 10th and 15th centuries. The Dutch rediscovered Borobudur in the 19th century, buried under volcanic ash and jungle growth.

Getting to Borobudur

The temple is about an hour away from Yogyakarta and is accessible by bus. However, if you’re planning to go for the sunrise, public transportation doesn’t run that early, so your only options are to go by cab or hired van.

I arranged a trip through my hostel to take a shared van up to Borobudur. The van picked me up from the hostel at 3:30am, and we arrived at the Manohara Hotel entrance to Borobudur by 5:00am. They distributed flashlights and maps, and we were on our way up the temple.

Touring Borobudur

To be honest, the top of the temple was crowded with people wanting to watch from the same area, so I ended up walking down to the third level to snag a more secluded spot.

After the sun rose, the main entrance to the temple opened, and it got significantly more crowded. Two Indonesian students stopped me while I was roaming around the top level and asked if they could give me a tour.

They walked me through the temple and explained the three levels of Borobudur, representing Buddhist cosmology—  Kamadhatu (desire), Rupadhatu (physical being), and Arupadhatu (nirvana).

After walking me through Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu, and Arupadhatu, they gave me  suggestions of foods to try (by the way, Indonesian food is AMAZING), asked to follow me on Facebook, and sent me along my merry way.

The sunrise tour at Borobudur was well worth the 450,000 IDR fee.



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