Whirlwind Tour to the World heritage sites at Borobudur and Prambanan

Blog by Rasmi Agrahari, University of Hawaii at Manoa Master of Urban and Regional Planning Student

After all of the exciting work in Semarang, we decided to make a visit to the historic nearby world heritage sites. It was an amazing opportunity for us to be able to visit both sites Borobudur and Prambanan. It was a hot and muggy day and we covered a lot of ground. Cicumambulating Borobudur was an amazing experience and were able to follow along the stories of the reliefs, which recounts the life of the Buddha. Going upwards as we encircled the structure there is a symbolism that we are heading towards nirvana. We were pleased to hear that people who work at the site are from the nearby community. Our guide, a Muslim woman, also recounted to us Buddhist philosophy, many details about the history and construction of the site, as well as the preservation efforts that have taken place here. The site was especially threatened after a volcanic eruption occurred from nearby mount Merapi, resulting in corrosive ash to be deposited here.

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After the visit to Borobudur, we went to a very nice restaurant in a village nearby Borobudur. The stupa restaurant also took from the symbolism of the nearby Borobudur site and it was a magnificent setting in the rice fields. Here we are relaxing and enjoying some of the finest Indonesian cuisine I’ve had during this trip.

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After lunch we continued on to our next destination, the ancient temple of Prambanan. Pramabanan is one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. It was built around the 9th century. For Hindus, this place is an extremely powerful site and a rarity anywhere in the world. The temple consists of three separate sections, which pay homage to three powerful Hindu Gods. These are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer. It is amazing how majestic this site remains after over one thousand years standing, particularly as it is located nearby such intense geomorphological activity. It was especially damaged in the recent set of earthquakes in the region. There are still visible reconstruction efforts.

After visiting the temples, we headed to the nearby town of Solo to look for the local printmaking so ubiquitous in the region. We bought some batik and other souvenirs and headed back to the hotel. It was a long day on the road as these areas of central Java are about 3-4 hours drive; but, with just one day off during this studio/practicum working in Semarang we had to fit in as much as possible. We were so fortunate to visit these world heritage sites and it also afforded great team building opportunities.

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