A New Day has Come in Borobudur

When we went to Yogyakarta last June, going to the World Heritage Site of Borobudur Temple (Candi Borobudur in Bahasa) is on top of the itinerary after the conference. Who wouldn’t? It is one of the most visited landmarks in Indonesia! You haven’t been to Java if you haven’t been to Borobudur as some said. However, I didn’t knew that what I was about to experience was one of the best I’ve seen in this side of the planet—watching the sun come up in this thousand year old temple!

Tranquility at dawn
Recently, I read a CNN article that watching the sun rise in Borobudur Temple in Indonesia is one of the “beautiful sights to see” in this world. I said “I was blessed to see it, experience it with my very own eyes!” Indeed, Borobudur’s sunrise is a must at least in your lifetime.

When good ol Sol woke up

It was 3:00AM. We woke up. Good thing our bus was arranged—so many of us want to experience it. We would just sleep all the way from Yogya to Manohara Hotel, where we’ll pay for more or less IDR300,000 (more or less PhP1,000+) as an “exclusive entrance” to Borobudur. For a cash-strapped traveler, it’s an “ouch” compared to IDR190, 000 (or PhP700 more or less) during ordinary hours for foreigners, and the way cheaper IDR30, 000 (PhP100+!) for locals.


As we walked towards Borobudur in the darkness of dawn with our flashlights, one would see the awesome silhouette of the temple from the base. We were awed with its size—and it was just a silhouette.

Just like Merapi and Merbabu

We went up to the topmost level of the temple. The stairs were steep and uneven. It was dark and some of us need assistance in climbing. However, reaching the top before the sun rise was already an achievement for most of us.

Imagine this: The sun rising, the mist covers the plain, the volcanoes guard, a thousand year old temple, and simultaneous call for prayers of the Muslims echo all over the valley. Goosebumps!
Winter solstice just passed that day in the southern hemisphere, and the sun is taking a bit longer to rise. We waited as the horizon brightens up. We went around and look at these humongous bells with Buddhas inside while a few of the tourists were just there—waiting.

When everyone tried to get a piece of this magical experience.
Then we heard the people awed…

Hey, good morning!
The sun has risen between what seems to be the two guardians—The active volcano Merapi and sleeping Merbabu. Some of our Japanese companions started to pray, others took photos, while the rest was taking a video. As for me, I have no idea back then whether to take a photo or just experience it personally.

Misty Kedu Plain

The sun rose and the adhan or the Muslims’ call to prayer lingered in the plains and the hills of Central Java, as we witness a new day unfolding in a seemingly spiritual place. Surrounded by Buddhas, standing on a thousand-year old temple and adhans all over…the beauty of the experience in Borobudur in all its tranquility, majesty…no words can really describe.

Bells with Buddhas inside

If you will be visiting Yogyakarta for once, you have to experience this one. The pay was all worth it—because, aside from free tea and cookies and a batik Borobudur shoal at the hotel, by the time the clock struck sometime beyond 6:00AM, a hoard of tourists came in to the temple. There goes the tranquil experience that morning!

When tourists (students here) start to flock in, good bye tranquil morning!

CNN and the reviews were right about it. Maybe it depends on the perspective. As for me, watching the sun rise in Borobudur is both surreal, spiritual, and a wonderful experience to behold.

Peace in the morning

How to experience the sunrise tour in Borobudur?

The nearby Manohara Hotel serves the Borobudur Sunrise Tour. It has different rates for guests and non-guests alike. You may visit their website at http://manoharaborobudur.com/package/

If you prefer going to Borobudur and watch the sunrise, it is recommended that you arrange your transport with a travel agent or take an accredited taxi (but for an expensive fare) or stay at nearby hotels/hostels in Borobudur or Magelang. Yogyakarta is about an hour away, more or less 40 kilometers from the temple. You may check WikiTravel and Lonely Planet for some tips.

Buddha welcomes a new day!
This article was first posted in 2014.