The world’s biggest Buddhist temple can be found in the heart of Java near to the city of Yogyakarta.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Borobudur dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries.
Built from two million blocks of grey andesite (a volcanic rock), the construction reflects the Buddhist vision of the universe. At the base of the pyramid is the ordinary world. Intricate reliefs around the terraces depict ships, elephants, musicians, dancing girls, warriors and kings.
Each terrace represents a step closer to nirvana, or enlightenment. At the top of the monument, you will find 72 bell-shaped stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. There are far-reaching views of the surrounding countryside and great photo opportunities, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
We had booked a shared tour through an agent in Yogyakarta, but no-one else had booked on, so we got the driver to ourselves! This was great as it meant we could come and go as we pleased. The driver also spoke good English, so we had quite a long conversation on the way there and back.
While we were exploring the temple complex, we were approached several times by school children (and even some adults) who wanted to have their photos taken with us. The students also wanted to practise their English skills, so we had a few ‘what is your name?’, ‘how old are you?’ conversations.
Within the temple complex, there was a museum which had a huge replica of one of the ships from that time, which was very interesting and some cave paintings.
As well as Borobudur, the tour included two other temples: Mendut and Prambanan. Mendut, another Buddhist temple, had a monastery and was much smaller than Borobudur. Within the grounds was a huge Banyan tree and it was nice and peaceful away from the crowds.
It started to rain as we drove to Prambanan but fortunately stopped just as we got there. It was much cooler there. This is a Hindu temple and again very impressive. I loved looking at all the reliefs around the side of the temple. The temple is situated within a park area, so it was a nice place to stroll around, get an ice cream and relax.