Didem Doğan

Borobudur Temple

It’s three a.m. in the morning and it’s still dark. I am on a bus with other three tourists, one Italian, one Croatian, one American Indian and me, one Turkish; we are laughing ourselves as we feel as if we are inside a joke. We are going to Borobudur Temple to watch the sun rise, although it’s cloudy and we know we will not get a clear view of the sun rise, we are hurrying to get there before the day begins. 

Borobudur Temple is about an hour drive from Yogyakarta city centre, it is known as the biggest Buddhist temple. Founded in the 9th century, it was used as a temple and pilgrimage place for five centuries, until it was abandoned in the 14th century with the collapse of Hindu kingdoms and the arrival of Islam to the island of Java. One of the reasons might also be the eruption of the volcanos around it. During the short British colonial period in the 19th century, listening to locals’ stories the British administrator goes in search of this place.

As soon as we arrive we start running to the temple in order not to miss the first lights of the day, there are two types of entrance tickets, the much cheaper one is for a temple across the Temple, the more expensive one that gives access inside the temple. We climb the steep stairs and we reach to the top, it’s all blue around us, the stupas overlook at mountains, all look at the same direction. As we walk several times around the circle and the daylight uncover the darkness we see the details, inside each stupa (bell shaped little domes) a Buddha is sitting, most of them are without a head, apparently removed or destroyed. The temple viewed from above is shaped like a mandala, a circle inside a square symbolising the cosmos. The three circles symbolise the three levels: Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu and Arupathu, the world of desires, the world of forms and the formless world, or the non-existence of the self. In a way they tell you how to reach to ultimate consciousness, the ocean of the nirvana. We descend to lower floors and look at replicas on the walls, more than thousand of them depict the life of the Buddha. 

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