Borobudur monument, Central Java, Indonesia.
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Java is not well-endowed with attractions compared to little Bali island next door, though tea plantations and volcanoes are scattered interestingly around the island.
The capital city, Jakarta, is huge and hugely unattractive. However, in Central Java there is a fine collection of both Hindu and Buddhist temples and a comfortable town, Yogyakarta, to use as an exploration base.
The Borobudur Buddhist monument/temple (candi) is Java's greatest single tourist attraction, a magnificent 9th century structure of multiple layers richly decorated with over 2,500 superb reliefs and topped by 504 Buddha statues. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Borobudur's visible bas reliefs encircle five vast, square platforms and tell the story of Sudhana, a fictitious Indian pilgrim in search of enlightenment (and another character, Manohara). The reliefs extend for 3,000 metres.
One of 504 statues of Buddha, most of which are inside stupas (the pointy housings). Many Buddhas are headless, decapitated for cheap souvenirs by brain-dead tourists.
Borobudur was hidden for many centuries under piles of volcanic ash and rampant vegetation, only re-discovered in 1814 by British Governor Raffles, though it took 20 years to fully unearth the monument.
Borobudur's main stairway.
Borobudur candi is located 40 kms (25 miles) from the pleasant town of Yogyakarta so that makes a good base unless you want a crowd-free sunrise walk and prefer to stay in a nearby hotel - which will be much pricier than the equivalent in Jogja, but Jogja will require an early start to get to the temple kick-off at 5.0 am.
The monument has survived a recent earthquake and a Muslim bombing in 1985 but is visited by almost 3,000,000 tourists a year, most of them Indonesians. Unfortunately many ignore warnings not to climb on or even touch the buddha statues, stupas or reliefs and considerable, irreparable damage is done every year. More Borobudur.
Bromo and Semeru (erupting) volcanoes, East Java, with a Hindu temple on the left.
Photo by Jani Patokallio.
Java island is extremely volcanic and Borobudur is situated between two volcanoes, Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi.
Mount Merapi volcano and the adjacent town of Kaliurang is a
a good day trip from Jogja. Ketep town, just east of Borobudur, is also a fair trip.
Other spectacular volcanic experiences in Java are: the Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) and its brilliant moonscape environment, gnarled rock formations, drifting sulphur gases and emerald lake - but it's a a tough hike; also the island Krakatoa Volcano (Krakatau), famous for its devastating eruption in 1883, now accessible from Carita Beach or Lampun by boat.
Tea plantations around Central Java, another popular tourist attraction.
Photo by Amalia Sanusi.
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