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Tourists go to Yogyakarta mainly to see Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world. Built in the 9th century, it is a temple to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. Being on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list makes Borobudur the single most-visited tourist attraction in Indonesia. It is also a must-visit field trip destination for Indonesian schoolkids – that was how I visited for the first time. But five times later, I am still in awe!


To give you the sense of how big the temple is, the foundation is square-shaped and measures approximately 118 metres on each side. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square with walls and balustrades decorated with 2,670 individual bas-reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 square metres. 


The upper three levels of the temple are circular and have 72 stupas each with a Buddha statue. From above, it forms a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. You should hire a good guide that can explain its history, the craftsmanship and the stories on the reliefs. The most important reliefs are located on the second floor, which relate the story of Prince Siddhartha and the birth of Buddha.


A foreign tourist will most likely be offered a “Borobudur Sunrise” package, which means entering at around 4am, followed by a buffet breakfast. Sunrise in Borobudur is supposed to be magnificent, but the truth is, the chances of seeing the sun rise are very slim. If you want to avoid the heat, you can always come early in the morning, since they open at 6am. As for me, any time of the day is good for admiring this amazing archaeological site.


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