Indonesia has a rich culture, some of which revolves around the temples and sacred archaeological sites scattered through the country. Magnificent monuments with centuries old beliefs, these places are definitely worth a visit while you are on tour to Indonesia. While in the Yogyakarta region there are three of these magnificent monuments not to miss, and if you are as tenacious as me you can hit them all in one day: from sunrise to sunset.
1. Sunrise at Borobudur Temple
Begin your sacred day in the wee hours of the morning (we woke up at 3:30am!) with the sunrise over Borobudur Temple. The UNESCO World Heritage site is set on a mountaintop in central Java, amidst volcanoes and lush forest. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, with over 500 Buddha statues scattered around the site.
Climbing to the top of 95-foot high pyramid is like a pilgrimage in itself, providing an inner peace and enlightenment. Beware that the ascent can be difficult, but there are several terraces to explore along the way, each one giving a different perspective.
I stopped at every one to catch my breath!
The corridors, panels and the sheer sculptural works on the stones are the reflection of Buddhists Doctrines and Javanese life; the animals, dancers, music and lifestyle.
The best place to watch the sunrise is from the top platform, where the burnt orange colors peak through the stone stupas. I recommend planting yourself there about a half hour before in order to secure the ideal location.
There will be A LOT of tourists.
It’s hard to find the perfect spot, but do it quickly and stay put because if you leave someone will snag your seat in a second.
Even with hundreds of people surrounding me the only sound I heard as the sun came up from behind the mountain, was the roosters crowing from the hills. Very Peaceful.
2. Afternoon at Prambanan Temple
After witnessing the gorgeous sunrise view at Borobudur Temple, head just a few miles northeast of Yogyakarta to another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Prambanan Temple compound. It is a collection of three main temples dedicated to Hindu deities; Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu.
It is said to be the most graceful Hindu temples in Indonesia.
The outer area of the compound is a carpet of lush green, whereas the interior has tall structures (the highest being 47 meters) that emerge from a dirt floor.
Most of the people will be congregated on the inside of the main yard because they are able to enter several of the structures, but I found very minimal tourists on the exterior and it was just a beautiful.
Tip: Be careful on warm days, as there is very limited shade. Apply sunscreen and bring an umbrella for protection.
3. Sunset at Ratu Boko
Just 3 kilometers to the south of Prambanan Temple is a place that can defeat the beauty of many sunsets around the world, Ratu Boko. The 16 hectare archaeological site in Yogyakarta not only the has the remains of temples, but also an audience hall, pool, two caves and a main entrance where unbelievable sunsets shine through.
It makes for a dreamy sunset.
We arrived about a hour and a half before sunset, enough time to explore the expansive grounds which are somewhat of a mystery. Though, the most common belief is that it was a fortified monastery occupied as early as the 8th century.
It is said to have been build by a Buddhist, but the Hindu and Buddhist symbols found throughout Ratu Boko show that the two religions lived together harmoniously.
Just before sunset, I took a seat on the soft grass with dozens of others. This natural show would be the last of one very memorable day.
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