Borobudur, beyond breathtaking

Borobudur is one of those bucket list places, the ones that leave an indelible mark on the soul of a wanderlust. I spent a few weeks traveling around Indonesia and one of the highlights, was the sunrise hike to the top of Borobudur Temple. Borobudur is located on the Indonesian island of Java, burrowed within a lush isolated valley surrounded by swaying palm trees and majestic mountains. Borobudur is the oldest temple in Indonesia, build between the 8th and 9th centuries. It’s also the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. For 1200 years Borobudur has survived Volcanic eruptions, terrorist bombs and earthquakes. It’s enigmatic and beautiful design make a visit an unforgettable experience.


This colossal monument known as Borobudur is about 25 miles northwest of the bustling city of Yogyakarta, and about 9 miles south of Magelang, which is where I stayed, at the Artia Magelang Hotel. While the Artia is a fantastic property, there is a hotel just walking distance of the Borobudur Temple, the Manohara. The Manohara is basically ground zero for tours and other activities near the Temple.

My experience with Borobudur started with an pre—dawn drive from the city of Magelang. After getting checked in at the Manohara tour counter, my group of fellow travel bloggers and I set off with our guide. The near-dark stroll through dewy grass and tropical surroundings added to the anticipation of seeing the monolithic structure once the sun cast its light. When we reached the top tier of the temple we could see the color of the sun enriching the dark sky. Song birds begin to sing and a low lying mist blanketed the lush valley below. As the sky brightened, the surrounding volcanoes, terraced fields, and stone reliefs began to reveal themselves. Glimpsing Borobudur for the first time was a peaceful and emotional experience.

After having some time to explore Borobudur, I was enamored by its magnitude and majestic beauty. With all of my travels, I had never seen anything like it. There is so much to explore that a single sunrise visit was simply not enough time. I would highly recommend spending at least a day there, if not more, to fully appreciate all of its intricacies and grandeur.

Borobudur aerial by

For centuries, the Borobudur Temple lay hidden under layers of volcanic ash. The reasons behind the desertion of this magnificent monument still remain a mystery. Some scholars believe that famine caused by an eruption of nearby Mount Merapi forced the inhabitants of Central Java to leave their lands in search of a new place to live. When people finally returned to the area, Borobudur did not exist, it had been buried by centuries-old layers of mountainous ash. The Borobudur Temple was rediscovered in 1814 and by 1973 a full restoration project had begun. By 1991, Borobudur was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bells at Borobudur by

After a couple of extraordinary hours, we began our decent down Borobudur to the Monohara hotel for breakfast. The surrounding grounds are quite lush and stunning. And all of the different vantage points of Borobudur made me want to stay the day, but alas we had other areas in Central Java to explore.

Have you ever been to Borobudur? If so, please leave a comment below and share your experience. Click here to view more of my photos from Borobudur.

Borobudur Facts and Information:

  • Sunrise tour packages are 400,000 IDR (about $30 USD).
  • Height of Borobudur is 115′
  • The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, comprising six square platforms topped by three circular platforms.
  • Borobudur is estimated to have taken just 75 years to complete ( 825AD) and was constructed during the reign of Samaratungga.
  • The first photograph of Borobudur was taken 1873.

Borobudur Pin by

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.


  1. The impressive aspect of the architecture is it’s symmetry despite such a complex design. Great architecture and good info Mike. Thanks

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