Borobudur Temple: the Giant Stone Puzzle With Thousands of Stories

Benedictus O.

Silhouette of Borobudur Temple's stupas at sunrise with Mount Merapi in the background.
The stunning view of sunrise at Borobudur Temple with the majestic Mount Merapi in the background. The silhouette of the stupas creates a serene and mystical atmosphere. (Sepdes Sinaga/

Borobudur Temple, an 8th-century marvel, stands proudly in Central Java, Indonesia. Built by the Syailendra Dynasty, this monumental site consists of two million volcanic stone blocks. It is adorned with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, all depicting the journey towards enlightenment.

Serving as a significant pilgrimage center, the temple vividly illustrates Buddhist cosmology and philosophy through its intricately carved panels. Visitors can enrich their exploration with practical amenities such as guided tours and informative visitor centers.

Intrigued by the temple’s profound spiritual symbolism and architectural ingenuity? There’s much more to uncover about this ancient wonder.

History of Borobudur Temple

A wide view of Borobudur Temple with a green lawn and trees in the foreground.
A wide view of Borobudur Temple from the exit path, showcasing its majestic architecture against a clear blue sky. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

Borobudur Temple’s history dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries during the rule of the Syailendra Dynasty. Constructed in Central Java, Indonesia, this massive Buddhist temple stands as a pinnacle of ancient Javanese art and architecture. The construction required significant effort, utilizing around two million interlocking volcanic stone blocks sourced from nearby rivers. Built under King Samaratungga, the temple served as a place of worship and pilgrimage, reflecting the profound cultural significance of Buddhism in the region during that period.

Preserving Borobudur’s history has been an ongoing endeavor, particularly after its rediscovery in the 19th century by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. UNESCO’s restoration efforts in the 20th century have been vital in maintaining the site’s structural integrity and historical authenticity. The temple’s intricate relief panels, which depict the life of Buddha and various aspects of Javanese society, offer invaluable insights into the cultural and spiritual life of the time.

Today, Borobudur stands not only as a testament to ancient engineering but also as a symbol of Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors and scholars from around the globe.

Architecture of Borobudur Temple

Side view of Borobudur Temple.
A side view of Borobudur Temple showcasing its grand architecture and detailed stonework. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

Borobudur Temple’s architecture showcases an ingenious blend of spirituality and engineering, making it a marvel worth exploring. Its pyramid-like structure ascends through three levels of existence: Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and Arupadhatu (the formless world).

Constructed with around 2 million intricately interlocking volcanic stone blocks, Borobudur is a testament to ancient ingenuity. The temple features 55,000 cubic meters of stone skillfully arranged without mortar, creating a massive stone puzzle. Each layer is adorned with stone carvings, totaling 2,672 relief panels that depict scenes from Buddha’s life and Javanese society.

A detailed relief panel at Borobudur Temple.
One of the intricate relief panels at Borobudur Temple, depicting scenes from Buddhist teachings and daily life. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/
Tourists exploring Borobudur Temple at sunrise.
Tourists, both foreign and local, walking around Borobudur Temple during sunrise, admiring its grand architecture and historical significance. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

These carvings are artistic masterpieces and serve as didactic tools, narrating stories that guide pilgrims toward enlightenment. Throughout the structure, you’ll find 504 Buddha statues, each housed in perforated stupas on the upper terraces. The central dome, surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, symbolizes the ultimate goal of Buddhist spiritual ascent.

This intricate design, combined with the temple’s alignment to cardinal points, highlights Borobudur as an architectural and spiritual phenomenon, making it a significant cultural landmark.

Function and Meaning of Borobudur Temple

A close-up of a Buddha statue inside a stupa at Borobudur Temple.
The Buddha statue inside a stupa at Borobudur Temple, believed by many visitors to grant wishes if touched. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/
A Buddha statue inside a stupa at Borobudur Temple with a scenic view of surrounding hills.
A serene Buddha statue encased in a stupa at Borobudur Temple, gazing over the lush, mist-covered hills in the background. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

Borobudur Temple serves as a pilgrimage site, inviting Buddhists worldwide to seek enlightenment and wisdom through its intricately designed pathways and sacred spaces. The temple’s structure symbolizes Buddhist cosmology, reflecting the spiritual journey from the earthly domain towards nirvana. Each of the three levels—Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu, and Arupadhatu—holds profound spiritual significance, guiding pilgrims through stages of human existence and consciousness.

Walking through Borobudur, visitors encounter 1,460 relief panels that vividly depict various aspects of Buddhist teachings, including the life of Siddhartha Gautama and the principles of Dharma. These intricate carvings aren’t merely decorative but serve as didactic tools. They help devotees internalize the core tenets of Buddhism as they progress through the temple’s ascending terraces.

Reaching the summit, the main stupa symbolizes the ultimate goal of enlightenment, a state beyond physical form and worldly desires. The journey through Borobudur mirrors the path to spiritual awakening, providing a tangible, meditative experience that deepens one’s understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

This unique blend of architectural grandeur and spiritual depth makes Borobudur an unparalleled site of religious and historical importance.

Things to Do at Borobudur Temple

A tourist photographing an open Buddha statue at Borobudur Temple.
A tourist capturing a photo of an open Buddha statue at Borobudur Temple with misty hills in the background. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

When visiting Borobudur Temple, you’ll find a myriad of activities that offer both cultural enrichment and breathtaking experiences. Participating in a variety of engaging activities can significantly enrich your visit to this ancient marvel.

Start with these highlights:

  1. Elephant Rides: From atop a gentle giant, experience the majestic surroundings of Borobudur Temple. These rides provide a unique vantage point to appreciate the temple’s grandeur.
  2. Cycling Tours: Pedal around the temple complex and nearby villages. This allows you to immerse yourself in the local scenery and culture at your own pace.
  3. Sunrise and Sunset Viewings: The temple bathed in the golden hues of dawn or dusk is an unforgettable sight, best enjoyed from designated viewing areas.
  4. Savoring Local Cuisine: Treat your taste buds to the rich flavors of Javanese dishes available at nearby eateries. This offers an authentic culinary experience.

You can also examine the intricate reliefs and stupas that depict thousands of stories from Buddhist teachings and Javanese life. Each activity, whether it’s an elephant ride or savoring local cuisine, adds a layer of depth to your visit, making it truly memorable.

Amenities and Facilities at Borobudur Temple

After enjoying the various activities around the temple, you’ll find a range of amenities and facilities crafted to enrich your visit to Borobudur Temple. The site is well-equipped with visitor services that guarantee a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Clean restrooms, ample parking, and convenient stroller rentals make it simpler for families to discover the temple complex. The visitor center provides detailed information, maps, and guides to help you navigate the vast expanse of Borobudur.

To enrich your cultural experiences, several facilities are available:

  1. Cultural Performances: Traditional dance and music performances are regularly scheduled, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
  2. Guided Tours: Knowledgeable guides offer insightful tours, explaining the historical and architectural significance of the temple.
  3. Museum Access: The Samudra Raksa and Karmawibhangga Museums provide a deeper understanding of the temple’s history and the ancient civilizations that built it.
  4. Local Craft Shops: Souvenir shops around the temple complex sell handcrafted items, allowing you to take a piece of Javanese culture home with you.

These amenities and facilities ensure that your visit to Borobudur Temple is both informative and memorable.

Best Times To Visit

Plan your trip to Borobudur Temple during the dry season, typically from May to September, to get the most out of your visit. This period offers the best weather conditions, with minimal rainfall and clear skies, perfect for exploring the temple’s intricate reliefs and expansive layout.

Stunning photographs are more likely, especially during early morning or late afternoon when the light is at its best. For the best shots, head to the higher terraces where you can capture panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the temple’s impressive stupas.

Visiting during this period also allows you to experience local cultural events that often coincide with the dry season. The Vesak festival, celebrating Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death, is a significant event held around May or June. During this time, the temple becomes a gathering place for thousands of pilgrims and tourists alike, providing a unique cultural experience.

Attending such events not only enriches your visit but also offers a deeper understanding of the temple’s historical and spiritual significance. By planning your visit during these months, you ensure a more enjoyable and enriching experience at Borobudur Temple.

How to get to Borobudur Temple?

Tourists enjoying the sunrise at Borobudur Temple.
Foreign and local tourists experiencing the serene beauty of sunrise at Borobudur Temple, surrounded by the temple’s iconic stupas. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

Traveling to Borobudur Temple is straightforward, with several options available. You can choose to drive, rent motorcycles or cars, or use public transportation. The temple is conveniently located about an hour away from Yogyakarta via Jl. Magelang, making it easily accessible. Clear road signs along the way guide you through landmarks such as the Jombor Flyover, ensuring a smooth journey.

Yogyakarta offers numerous services where you can rent motorcycles or cars if you consider rental options. This flexibility allows you to discover at your own pace and visit other nearby attractions. Many rental agencies provide GPS-equipped vehicles, making navigation hassle-free.

Public transportation is also a viable option. You can catch a bus from Yogyakarta’s main bus terminal, Giwangan, directly to Borobudur. The buses are relatively frequent and affordable, providing a convenient alternative for budget-conscious travelers.

Tourist shuttles are available as well, offering direct routes to the temple and often including guided tours. Additionally, you can use the DAMRI bus from Adisutjipto Airport or Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA), which operates hourly from 07.00 to 21.00 WIB with fares around Rp30.000 for foreigners and Rp15.000 for locals.

For those preferring regular buses, options include taking a bus from Terminal Jombor or Terminal Giwangan with subsequent transfers. Trans Jogja services also connect key locations like Malioboro and Stasiun Yogyakarta to these terminals.

Alternatively, you can take a train to Magelang and continue by taxi or ojek. Many tour operators in Yogyakarta offer comprehensive travel packages to Borobudur, including transportation, entrance tickets, and guided tours, providing a more convenient albeit pricier option.

Whether you choose to drive, rent a vehicle, or use public transportation, reaching Borobudur Temple is both convenient and efficient. This ensures you can focus on enjoying the historical and cultural marvels awaiting you.

Entry Fees or Permits Required

Admission to Borobudur Temple requires purchasing a ticket, with prices varying for domestic and foreign visitors. Foreign tourists generally pay higher ticket prices compared to domestic visitors, reflecting the temple’s cultural significance and the effort to maintain and preserve this historical site.

When planning your visit, be aware of the following:

  1. Ticket Costs: Foreign adult visitors typically pay around Rp 375,000, while children pay Rp 225,000. Domestic adult tickets are priced at Rp 50,000, and children’s tickets are Rp 25,000. Children under 3 years old do not need a ticket.
  2. Operating Hours: The temple is open daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Ticket counters open from 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Special tickets for sunrise and sunset viewings are available for purchase at Hotel Manohara.
  3. Regulations: Recent rules include restrictions on climbing the temple itself to help preserve the ancient structure. Additionally, bringing outside food and drinks is prohibited.
  4. Visitor Experiences: By following the designated pathways and respecting the temple’s rules, visitors can fully appreciate the intricate relief panels and the serene atmosphere, enhancing their understanding of its cultural significance. Additionally, hiring a knowledgeable local guide can provide deeper insights into the history and meaning of the temple’s carvings and architecture.

Tickets can also be purchased online at Borobudur Park’s official website.

Travel Tips to Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple's stupas with Menoreh Hills in the background.
A view from Borobudur Temple showcasing its stunning stupas in the foreground with the serene Menoreh Hills providing a picturesque backdrop. (Benedictus Oktaviantoro/

When planning your visit to Borobudur Temple, keep these travel tips in mind to guarantee a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Arriving early in the morning is beneficial, as it allows you to avoid large crowds and experience the temple’s serene atmosphere.

Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes is essential, given the amount of walking and climbing involved. Bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the tropical sun.

To make the most of your visit, consider these key points:

  1. Local cuisine: Sample local dishes such as Bakmi Pak Parno and Mangut Beong from nearby eateries to enrich your cultural experience.
  2. Cultural performances: Schedule your visit to coincide with cultural events or performances that often take place at the temple, offering deeper insight into Javanese traditions.
  3. Guided tours: Opt for guided tours to learn about the historical and architectural significance of the temple, ensuring a richer understanding of its intricacies.
  4. Respect the site: Follow all guidelines and respect the temple’s sanctity by not climbing restricted areas and maintaining the cleanliness of the premises.


As you finish exploring Borobudur Temple, you’ll realize that this monumental structure isn’t just a reflection of ancient architectural prowess but also a living narrative of spiritual and cultural history.

Each stone you pass by, each carving you observe, contributes to an intricate tapestry that has transcended centuries.

Visiting Borobudur is more than a journey through a temple; it’s an immersive experience that connects you to the profound heritage of humanity.



Benedictus O.

Benedictus Oktaviantoro is a dedicated mountaineer and adventurer who loves helping others. He began climbing Mount Salak in 2002 and has since explored many beautiful places in Indonesia. Benedictus is also active in social activities, such as Search and Rescue missions and disaster relief efforts. Currently, he is learning more about digital marketing to improve his skills.

Related Articles and Topics