2 UNESCO Sites In 1 Unforgettable Day
When people think about travelling to Indonesia they often think of Bali or Jakarta. What often gets overlooked is Yogyakarta in central Java, home of 2 sites that, if they’re not already, should be on your bucket list: The ancient sites of the Borobudur and Prambanan Temple compounds. This is where you can visit 2 UNESCO sites in 1 unforgettable day.
Borobudur Temple Compound
The Borobudur Temple is a 9th-century Buddhist temple and is also the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.
The Borobudur Temple is built as a single large stupa and, when viewed from above, takes the form of a giant mandala, representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. The temple’s three divisions symbolize the three “realms” of Buddhist cosmology, Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and Arupadhatu (the formless world).
The Borobudur Temple compound is surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and lush greenery making it an extremely popular spot for sunrise photos. The sunrise entry isn’t included in the regular admission, you need to book this in advance. You can book transport there and back, including admission for the sunrise via tour apps like Klook.
Prambanan Temple Compounds
The Prambanan Temple Compounds are a group of 8th and 9th-century Hindu and Buddhist temples (Prambanan, Sewu, Lumbung, and Bubrah) located in the Prambanan Archaeological Park outside of Yogyakarta. These temple compounds are also considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Prambanan is a Hindu temple compound dedicated to Trimurti, the three highest gods in Hinduism, while Sewu, Lumbung and Bubrah temples are Mahayana Buddhist. Both Prambanan and Sewu are actually temple compounds arranged in the mandala layout, surrounded with hundreds of pervara (guardian complementary) temples. Originally, Prambanan had 240 structures, Sewu had 249 structures, while Lumbung temple had 17 structures. With combined numbers of over 500 temples, Prambanan Temple Compounds represents not only an architectural and cultural treasure, but also an example of religious harmony and peaceful cohabitation between faiths that the world can still learn from today.
Just as Borobudur is famous for its sunrise, Prambanan is famous for its sunset. Many people gather around the Prambanan Temple at sunset to try and capture an iconic photo. Unlike Borobudur though, you don’t need to book a sunset tour in advance. You can book a driver and park pass combo through the Klook app as well. I suggest using a hired driver because after the sunset when the park closes the parking lot and exit because quite chaotic.
If you’re a regular visitor to South East Asia and are going to be in the area I highly recommend a few nights in Yogyakarta and visiting the temple compounds of Borobudur and Prambanan. Not only will you travel back in time and experience rich history and culture in the structures but you’ll probably also see one of the best sunrises and sunsets of your life. 2 UNESCO sites in 1 unforgettable day.