Borobudur is one of the largest Buddhist Monuments in the world and a great place to celebrate Vesak day or Hari Raya Waisak Tahun 2556 which is fast approaching. (Celebrated May 6th in Indonesia) Vesak Day celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This Buddhist festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment and demise of Buddha. Devotees gather at temples to pray, perform rituals, contribute charitable donations and listen to preachment. Probably the best place to experience this in Jakarta is Vihara Mahavira Graha Pusat (Indonesian Buddhist Center) at Jalan Lodan. If the festival falls on a weekday, Buddhist youth get together on the first Saturday to sing, dance and perform Waisak-themed operas. A bazaar springs open, selling vegetarian fare, souvenirs and prayer beads. In the rest of Indonesia, the event centers on Borobudur and Mendut temples in Central Java.
In fact, even the airlines are even getting in on the promotions.
Borobudur is about an hour’s drive from Yjogakarta and definitely worth a few hours or so, it is a 1200 year old Buddhist Monument. However, the middle of the day it can be really crowded, there’s often usually hordes of school children, most of whom want to practise their English and take a photo with a bule.
The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. It is made up of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with almost 3,000 relief panels and over 500 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.If you can reach inside and touch one, it is considered good luck.
The idea is that the devout walk around the 5 or 6 levels reading the carvings and stories along the way to gain merit. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumnavigating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades. Borobudur was built on a hill, so once at the top there are some fantastic views to see.
It was abandoned in the 14th Century, possibly due to the increasing spread of Islam through Java and the decline of the Buddhist and Hindu Javanese Kingdoms at this time. It was then ‘rediscovered’ by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1814. It is a UN Heritage site and has been restored to it’s former glory.
Indonesian (and people with a KITAS or work permit) pay 15,000 IDR
Foreigners pay $12.00 or about 110,000 IDR