Built in the 9th century in Indonesia, Peta Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The monument was designed to show the Buddhist concept of achieving Nirvana. We started our journey at 5.45am from our hotel Ruman Boedi hoping to catch the sunrise. To my surprise it was already light outside when we got up. We took the tuk-tuk but by the time we arrived a thing layer of clouds had blocked off most of the sun.
We discovered that after queuing for the wrong ticket desk there were separate fees for locals and foreigners where outsiders pay 20 times or even more than the local price. It is a bit of an odd payment arrangement but I have seen strangers things in Asia. We were guided to a special area for foreigners where we settled the $20 USD per ticket. We entered the park surrounding the temple and walked closer to the main entrance.
From a distance you could see the enormous scale of the temple. It was a lot larger than I expected but I was not entirely blown away. That changed as we got closer. I did not count the exact number of narrative relief panels but the monument apparently guides through 1,460 on the walls and the balustrades. We started at the ground floor, the most logical place to start, and followed the path around the monument and climbed to the top crossing three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology. Kamadhatu which represents the world of desire, Rupadhatu stands for the world of forms and the final level of Arupadhatu is also known as the world of formlessness. We had finally reached nirvana.
The world of formlessness was indeed very magnificent but we were not the only ones to experience the bird’s eye view over Peta Borobudur. It seemed that most tourists had gone straight to the top without looking at the most interesting part of the monument, the intricate stories in the relief panels. The takeaway?Nirvana was a lot busier than I expected.