Murmurs of Awe at Borobudur | Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Anytime you find your way to the world's largest Buddhist temple in the world, you feel like toasting your kismet for bringing you there. Just the mere fact of stepping foot on a structure built with oozing creativity dating back to the 9th century, is already a significant moment for myself. Borobudur is the primary reason why I journeyed to the city of Yogyakarta—which at the time was my longest train ride—from Jakarta. It was one of those place forever etched in my mind as something I must see.

Levy Amosin at Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

My first sighting of Borobudur was against the open blue skies and as expected; a phalanx of rich details. Unmindful of the shower of hot rays of sunlight directed on my face, I stared at it lengthily as if memorizing its every architectural patterns. Once I climbed the stairs to be as close to it as possible, I circled it with slow steps—eyes wide-open—while murmuring with awe at the intricate stone carvings depicting scenes of Buddhist transformation. 

Kara Santos in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

The first level of the multi-tiered Borobudur temple shows everyday images of Earthly life such as; a feast, daily household work and warfare. As you climb up the successive levels, you will notice the bass reliefs focusing more on Gautama Buddha's journey to enlightenment. After that, you will come across statues of more than 500 Buddhas. At the uppermost platform, you will see the Buddhist cosmology story surrounding the temple as represented by 72 bell-shaped stupa (each one hiding a Buddha statue inside) positioned like night watchmen directing its stares at the lowlands and the nearby Mount Merapi. 

Michelle Lim of Cebu Pacific

A Swedish couple who I shared a van with asked me to be their unofficial photographer, I happily obliged with the intention of asking them to take a couple photos of myself as well. It turned out a fair trade since I never bother bringing a tripod. 

Marky Ramone Go

The result is a few 'touristy landmark poses' stored on my memory card. Judging from their smiles, I bet the couple like the images I took of them. Their presence also highlighted that lil-bit-sad-fact about being a solo traveler (my second out-of-the-country as a lone traveler) as it made me wish I was holding an adventurous girl's hand, while we savor the wind coming from all corners while we stand at the uppermost layer of Borobudur.


As quickly as that what-if thought went inside my head, it immediately vanishes. Undeterred, I found more reasons to enjoy the place. As I circle around more, I saw a few pilgrims gathered near a stupa deeply immersed in solemn prayers. Careful not to cause a disturbance by tripping over one of them, I trudged carefully. 


There's much to see around the Borobudur complex and despite the high number of tourists buzzing around, one could still find a quiet spot to be still and even meditate. Trying to rest, I sat at the floor and just fixate my glance at the walls richly carved with vivid images. It was like looking at a graphic novel, with each section conveying a story. Using my imagination, I swear of almost hearing the clippings of chisels from the finest artists and sculptures of the 9th century.

Marky Ramone Go in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia

I rested again at one of steps at the highest level and directed my stare at the direction of Mount Merapi—an active volcano which threatened Borobudur during its last eruption in 2010. Oddly enough, the silent echoes of low-voice conversations from other travelers were muted and the only sounds I heard were from the hissing winds.


As Borobudur's endearing message is about finding one's enlightenment, I recognize that I have yet to attain my own. Despite Gautama taking quite a time to achieve it, he did so by drawing a step closer amidst thousands more. As I proceeded down the steps away from the temple I turned around and made one last long look at the vast Borobudur temple. 


I was a few minutes into it before a Chinese woman nudged me from behind and asked me to take a photograph of her and her husband. I oblige and when I looked at the viewfinder on her camera, I saw two smiling faces against a spellbinding background. As I hand back her camera, a jolt of happiness formed on me, for I knew they were just about to climb the temple and just like me, become one step closer to enlightenment. 

Marky Ramone Go in Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia


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