Borobudur: An Ancient Monument to Buddha at a Lively Time

Borobudur-The name sounds mystical, like something taken straight out of a Tolkien book, and when you gaze upon it you can easily imagine the massive structure in a magical world.

Borobudur was completed in the 9th century is claimed to be the world’s largest Buddhist structure.  We hired a guide and driver to explore the temple located about 90 minute drive from Yogyakarta.

Carvings tell of the life of Buddha

An Elegant Waterspout

The monument has become a place of pilgrimage.  The journey for devotees begins at the base and continues through a winding path to the top.  There are ten terraces which represent the life stages one must go through to reach enlightenment. The stairs are steep because as our guide pointed out nirvana is not meant easy to achieve.

The most important occasion observed at Borobudur is Vesak Day, which is sometimes informally called “Buddha’s Birthday,” but actually represents more.  The holiday commemorates the day the religious leader was born, achieved enlightenment and  passed away.  We happened to visit Borobudur the day before Vesak and the monument was abuzz with preparations and travelers.

As one of the few foreign tourists, we once again became photo props.   The children, who were the youngest blonde-hair blue-eyed ones around, had their photo taken with different groups of travelers around almost ever corner we turned.  They handled the attention gracefully but after a while when Sydney tired of the paparazzi she held out the palm of her hand and said a firm “enough”.  Fortunately she is easily bribed and in this one Sydney poses with a “Chupa-Chup” her favorite candy.  I particularly love the woman’s gentle smile.

Aidan appears very content with the beautiful ladies.  I fear he is going it be a handful in his teenage years, even at five he can never say no to a lovely woman’s request.

During a playful moment, Sydney shows off the traditional Batik cloth we were given to wear.  

Aidan smiles as he is attacked by a stone lion.

It is amazing to recall all the wonderful monuments we have visited over the past five months and I marvel at what the children have learned.   A few days ago when Aidan was playing with his trains I overheard him say in his firm Sir Topham Hatt’s voice “No Thomas you cannot do that yet.  You know Christmas is after Buddha’s Birthday.”  I think Borobudur has had a lasting effect on us all.

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