a pleasure-hunting monkey.
Travel brings power and love back into your life.
Years ago, I read that quotation by the Persian Poet Jalal ad-din Muhammad Rumi.
These words are known all over the world, and they brought to mind my love of the Borobudur temple, the famous tourist landmark in Central Java.
I’m not sure whether it was the temple itself or the sunrise that first impressed me. Maybe it was the stunning combination of both. But I’ve always love sunrise, I have wrote my favorite places to see it, and I’m forever on the lookout for a truly gorgeous one.
Choosing the best spot for sunrise watching
As the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur’s ancient charms attract hundreds of tourists during the day. Bur its allure is greatest at sunrise, which was when I saw it my last time there.
There are two options for enjoying the sunrise at Borobudur: from inside the building from a distance with the temple as part of the scene.
If you choose to see the sunrise from inside the temple, going from Manohara Hotel in Magelang is the best way.
It costs Rp.270,000 for domestic visitors and Rp.400,000 for foreigners. It is certainly the best way to enjoy the serenity of the temple before the public gate opens at 06.30 a.m.
I enjoyed both sunrise spectacles – from inside the temple and from a distance – on the same day by entering from Manohara Hotel then moving to the Punthuk Setumbu Hill area before the sun got too high in the sky.
At the break of dawn
It was 3 a.m. when I began the sunrise trip to Borobudur fromdowntown Yogyakarta. The temple is situated in Magelang, and is a 45-minute drive away. The entrance gate to the temple opens at 4.30am.
Once you are inside, you can walk to the temple and choose your spot from which to watch the sunset and take pictures of it.
I used my compass to determine the eastern horizon, and I spotted many people gathering to face it. I joined them and set up my tripod in the darkness.
As I remember, I could feel the breeze whipping up at dawn. It was both refreshing and bracing. The sunrise began at 05.45 a.m. The dark sky became blue-ish, and before long glowed orange until the entire horizon was drenched in this color.
As I stood between the stupas with the Buddha statues looming above me, I wasa mesmerized by the sight of the two great mountains of Yogyakarta and Central Java – Mount Merapi and Merbabu.
I also got closer to the three imposing spheres that extend from the base, the body and the superstructure of the temple.
Their names – from the lowest to the highest level of the temple – are Kamadhatu, Rupahatu and Aruphatu, and they represent respectively the sphere of desires, where we are bound to our longings; the sphere of forms, where we abandon our desires but are still bound to name and form; and the sphere of formlessness, where there is no longer either name or form.
Silhouetted Buddha statues and stupas are favorite photographic subjects during sunrise at Borobudur. Countless camera lenses point at them. From the southern to the western side of the temple, I could see the trees covered by mist, which lent a mystical effect to my own photographs.
Seeing the rest of the sunrise and the temple from afar
I decided not to remain at the temple once the public gate had opened. I was thinking of trying to view Borobudur from a distance.
Punthuk Setumbu hill was my intended vantage point until someone told me to visit the Dove church or what the locals called Gereja Ayam near Punthuk Setumbu hill. Gereja Ayam is an abandoned building that was meant to have been a church. Construction on it has started again it has become a popular landmark.
I climbed up the stairs inside the church and did not expect the amazing view that greeted me.
People say the best spot to see Borobudur from afar is from Punthuk Setumbu, but I think Gereja Ayam is better since it’s closer to the temple.
The sunrise cast more yellow on the horizon. I spotted the pyramid shapes of Borobudur flanked by the woods. This scene was crowned by the bell-shaped dome on the top of the temple. I pointed my camera lens at it, capturing another astounding view.
As I stood there I could hear the birds starting to chirp. I felt peaceful, and glad that I would be able to share my visit with my friends.
As the sun rise higher, I remembered another quotation from Rumi.
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”
At that moment, I was sure it referred to the joy I get from watching sunrises during my visits to the places I travel to, and sharing the photographs with the one I love.
a video made by my sunrise hunting friend, Janitra Febrian.