Borobudur Temple is the world’s largest and most breathtaking Buddhist temple; Located in Central Java, it was built in the 9th century and is one of Indonesia’s most visited (and photographed) tourist attractions.
Inspired by Javanese Buddhist architecture and traditional Buddhism, the temple was built in three tiers:
- A pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces
- The trunk of a cone with three circular platforms
- A monumental stupa at the top
The temple was built without cement or mortar and consisted of millions of interlocking stones.
The relief panels on the temple walls tell the story of the life of Buddha and the principles of Buddhism. The panels are arranged in a narrative sequence that begins at the temple’s base and continues to the top. The reliefs are intricately carved and illustrate scenes from the Jataka tales, which are stories of the previous lives of the Buddha.
Throughout the years, times weren’t always great; there is evidence that Borobudur was abandoned in the 14th century due to the Javanese conversion from Hindu to Islam.
Along with religious turmoil, Borobudur has spent its entire existence under constant threat of destruction. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, lahars, lava, and pumice are all formidable and persistent threats from the dozens of active volcanoes in the region. More recently, idiot terrorists detonated bombs on the property, damaging areas of this historic site.
Aside from geologic and terrorist threats, intense tourism to Borobudur has also affected the structure. The stone stairs have worn to the point where they had to be retrofitted to withstand the daily visitor traffic – more on that in a moment. Even with the improvements, the temple has narrow, very steep stairs that make moving around the complex challenging if you have mobility problems.
Thankfully the UNESCO community continues to support and raise money to restore and maintain this remarkable destination.
Borobudur Temple Uncensored
In 2022, the Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy enforced a strict 1,200-visitor daily limit on climbing Borobudur. The visitor limit and increased entrance prices will help preserve this amazing cultural site for future generations.
Additionally, being able to experience sunrise at Borobudur is no longer an option, as the temple opens at 09:00 (as of my 04/2023 visit and update to this article).
Those who know me know that getting me to shut up about places I’ve visited is pretty challenging. Borobudur is a destination I was entirely unprepared for – this template’s stunning beauty is humbling and breathtaking. Seeing such a fantastic piece of architecture with such historical and religious importance, built hundreds of years ago, shows that humanity is truly amazing.
Borobudur being called “Indonesia’s most visited destination” is not a marketing slogan; this place has shitloads of local and foreign visitors daily. However, because of over-tourism at Borobudur, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, in coordination with UNESCO, has put a hard cap of 1,200 daily visitors who can climb Borobudur. Therefore, foreigners will pay a steep premium to ascend to the top of the stunning temple.
Frequently Asked Questions
In 2022, significant changes were made to the Borobudur Temple. Only 1,200 visitors per day are selected and allowed to climb the Temple. Additionally, the operational hours have changed; the temple opens at 09:00 – long after sunrise.
The sheer number of daily visitors caused excessive wear on the stones at the temple. To maintain the longevity of the temple structure, visitors must wear sandals (provided) before climbing Borobudur.
The tariff (entrance fee) for local Indonesians is IDR 750,000 (About USD $51).
The tariff (entrance fee) for foreign visitors to Borobudur is USD $100 (About IDR 1,500,000).
Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple located in central Java, near the town of Muntilan, Indonesia.