Saturday, April 21, 2012

Borobudur & Yogjakarta aka Jogja aka Jogjakarta

We first became aware of Borobudur 15-20 years ago.  Immediately Pat imagined visiting the buddhist temple, built some time between AD 750 and AD 850. It was something about the 260 large stupas on the top stories.  In any event, we are pleased to report that even after having visited so many temples on this trip, Pat was enchanted by Borobudur.  Note: It's hard to explain, so there are no guarantees that you would feel the same. ;-)

Borobudur was covered in volcano ash when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles discovered it in the early 1800's. A vast restoration project was completed in 1983 only to have Soeharto's opponents plant & explode bombs at the top in January 1985.   Most of that damage has been restored (exception: Each of the stupas contains a buddha. It's not obvious without carefully looking inside, but most of the buddhas are now headless.)

Borobudur is in Central Java, north of the sultanate of Yogjakarta (also called: also Jogja, and Jogjakarta).  While Indonesia is ruled as a democratic republic, the well-love sultan of Jogja appears to have more personal influence. I think it was Sultan #9 who granted land to the local people and started providing training/employment.  The training and employment continue.  There are something like 40 universities and colleges in Jogja alone.  We visited the Sultan's Palace or at least the grounds and many museum spaces. Later we visited the batik areas of town.  There are two Batik cooperatives(?), the East & the West. They each have similar styles (to my eye) but I am sure the distinctions are clear to them.  

The downtown has low rise buildings, mostly 3-4 stories.  Walking along they all look to be shops or medium six stores.  But we stepped inside a building behind the Macdonalds and discovered a modern 4 story shopping center with International shops.  

Before visiting Borobudur, we explored the 9C Hindu temple Prambanan (Wiedy, our guide, wisely reschedule this worried about the rain expected on the following day. Hence we have photos of a temple with blue skies…maybe a first on this trip.)

We arrived at the Manohara Hotel (on the grounds outside Borobudur) around 3:30 and hurried over to the temple hoping to beat the storm. We advanced several levels before taking a break for the rain and then continued to the top, completing our pilgrimage. We returned the next morning under sunny skies for photos and one last viewing of the many carvings.

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