We started out super early today leaving our hotel, the Garuda Inna at 3.30am. We headed for Candi Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, which was built between 750 and 842 ADAD. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been undergoing restoration since the 1970’s.
Candi Borobudur is simply magnificent and we approached the lit-up temple while it was still dark gaining access via Manohara Hotel. Eager to catch views of the sunrise our group header straight to the top. However, Buddhist followers usually enter the temple complex starting at the bottom layer and walking around each layer and learning about the stories of Buddha and teachings about a way of life depicted in the 2,672 reliefs. Unfortunately thick clouds didn’t allow for a spectacular sunrise and because the visibility was limited we could not even catch a glimpse of Gunung Merapi. However, the chance to be able to explore this amazing place at such an hour with so few tourists around made the early rise worth it.
During the middle of the day we had free time to explore Yogyakarta. After three days in this city everyone had already found a favorite place to shop, to eat or relax with a massage or creambath.
In the afternoon we went out to Candi Prambanan, Indonesia’s largest Hindu temple and second in the world to Angkor Wat. Unlike Borobudur which had taken generations to complete, Prambanan was built in the 9th century in a relatively short period of time and was built to honour the god Shiva. The tallest and most central shine is thus dedicated to this god.
Visiting the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan there is a constant reminder of humankind’s link with the natural world and attitudes and beliefs held by the local people towards the nearby volcanoes. While they bring life, creating fertile soil from which to grow crops they have caused a great deal of destruction, which was evident at both sites. When Gunung Merapi erupted in 2010, 2.5 cm of ash fell on the nearby temples. During the devastating 2006 earthquake that shook Yogyakarta and outlying areas it also caused damage at Prambanan the temple and the shrine to Shiva was very badly damaged. Consequently visitors to the site have to wear hard hats when entering the shrine and it is clear that extensive work is being undertaken to repair the cracks and structural damages caused by the earthquake.
We watched sunset at Prambanan and then moved to the other side of the temple to have dinner and then watch the Ramayana Ballet being performed in an open-air theatre with the lit-up shines as a backdrop. Luar biasa!!!