Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yogyakarta and the temples of Prambanan and Borobudur

From the cooler temperatures of the volcanic peaks, it was back to the scorching heat in Yogyakarta. We walked slowly, hiding in the shade as much as possible, ducking into some of the many, many batik shops to enjoy a bit of AC (and marvel at the intricate designs). I have new appreciation now for batik, after watching artists at each of the various stages. It’s an incredibly time-consuming art form, but an important part of Yogyakarta’s culture and Javanese history.

I was again struck by how different the cities in Java (predominantly Muslim) are from Bali (predominantly Hindu). Both part of the same country, but different worlds. The call to prayer could be heard loud and clear across Yogya, waking us daily at 4:45 am, then again at 6 am, and sounding numerous other times throughout the day. We wound our way through gritty streets and maze like alleyways, past vibrant murals and colourful street art. School kids trailed us, working up the courage to ask us questions for their school projects and asked for our signatures. Fame circle complete.

We visited Prambanan temple, and—wearing the obligatory, if not downright fashionable, hardhats—explored the various towers that have been deemed “relatively stable” after the 2006 earthquake which devasted much of the city. (We got a bird's eye view of the temple a few days later, when our plane to Singapore flew right over Prambanan!) 

The following day we woke up before the call to prayer and the rooster’s first yodel, to get to Borobudur temple when the gates open at 6 am. It was worth the tired yawns to be there before the rowdy school groups showed up, as the dawns early rays hadn’t yet pierced the morning mist, lending it an especially sacred feel. We spent a long time marveling at the massive, bell-shaped stupas on each level, and the intricate carved stories and figures on the walls.

This shows the fabric second waxing, ready to be dyed again.

Water palace.

Market near Prambanan.

When we left for Singapore a few days later, we flew right over Prambanan!

Feeding mulberry leaves to the deer.

Early morning at Borobudur.

Every stupa has a buddha inside of it.


1 comment:

  1. Nat Geo has a great video of Borobudur after the eruption of Mt Merapi in 2010 which ciovered the temple in about 2" of volcanic ash. The temple custodians had to close the site for a few months in order to clear away the ash as it is very corrosive. Mt. Merapi erupts every 4-5 years and they find ash even inside those stupas and in between the stones that they have rebuilt over the years.
    Amazing, as the head conservator has been there for 30 years rebuilding the site with his crew.
    He says there are over a milliom carved stones in all.