On The Road To Magelang

No trip to Jogja would be complete without at least one meal that included Gudeg and of course, a visit to Borobudur.


This magnificent Mahayana Buddhist temple was built in the 9th century and was a site of worship and pilgrimage for many, many years until suddenly it vanished. For hundreds of years it lay under a huge pile of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth until one fateful day in 1815 as Sir Stamford Raffles was out having a post-prandial walk in the jungle, he suddenly tripped up over a pile of stones and, Bob’s your Uncle, he re-discovered the hither-to forgotten temple.


Actually, I’ve just made that bit up. I don’t really know how Sir Stamford found it – I’ve looked all over the Internet and couldn’t find a thing about it but I thought I could use some artistic license plus add my own theory on this subject.


After good old Stamford had recovered from his stubbed toe and sore knees, no time was wasted in getting the site cleared and making plans for getting the temple restored to it’s former glory. This didn’t happen overnight of course, in fact it took 158 years and in 1973 when the restoration project was at last finished UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.










If you have a moment, please check out this excellent link.


Not only will it articulate better than I, the history and restoration of Borobudur but it also has some stunning photographs. I found Borobudur an impossibly difficult place to photograph A, because of it’s immense size and B, because it’s built in tiers in the shape of a mandala so it’s hard to give an overall picture of the place.


19 thoughts on “On The Road To Magelang

  1. How do you manage to get all these photos without anybody else in them? My photos all contain random tourists. Either you must get up really, really early or have a lot of patience waiting for other people to get out of the way. great pics.


    1. I’m glad you noticed that!! I really hate having people in my pictures, (unless of course they are the subject) so I’ve learnt to have infinite patience whenever I’m at a touristy spot. Eventually people move out of the way and then I’m like a tigress!!


  2. This is why we need our own private helicopter! I had the same problem photographing some of the castles and such in the UK and when I see postcard or picture book, I think well, sure they had a helicopter!! After checking out the link you provided though, other than those shots from above I say that yours are just as beautiful (some even more so).

    I believe your “creative license” is great fun! Oh, and “Stamford” sounds so stuffy, but “Raffles” sounds like a hoot. If you decide to write your own version of the events I say use the name Raffles.

    What an awe-inspiring place. I can only imagine how it must of felt to be there to experience it. To have been covered up for so long and the fact that it took over hundred years to restore it is mind-blowing. Fabulous post, Lottie! xoxo


    1. When I win the lottery, or more to the point, when I actually get round to buying a ticket – a winning ticket of course then you and I shall hire a helicopter for the day, (maybe even a week or more) and fly to all these incredible places that demand aerial shots. How cool would that be??

      It was a seriously inspiring place. As I struggled hot and sweaty and out of breath up all of those steps, I couldn’t help but think of A, all the people that put this place together in the beginning and B, all the people that worked on clearing the site years later and renovating it.

      I’m not sure if I mentioned this in the post, but this is the largest Buddhist temple in the world!

      Glad you enjoyed this post Sis! xoxo


      1. Sounds like a plan! And I’ll do the same once I win the lottery!

        I would be thinking the same thing while climbing those steps, Sis. It’s an overwhelming feeling that comes over you when you get into that frame of mind and think of all the people who have walked where you are and all the years that have passed. xoxo


  3. Really like the head close-ups. Your trigger finger was clearly very busy on this trip, such amazing places with loads of age, detail and character.


    1. Thanks Hayley. I’m a sucker for stone and wood reliefs so this was my idea of heaven! It’s an extraordinary place, quite out of this world and has to be seen to be believed. Photos really can’t convey the Borobudur in it’s entirety, let alone the feelings and atmosphere.


  4. Aha!! I can comment from my laptop but not my iPad. Very tedious to be demobilised. Anyway, I love the pics. Especially the monochrome ones. B&W is so much better at bringing out textures and you have toned these beautifully. Picture number 3 is my favourite. The challenge with these places is often one of perspective. Wide angles and short distances tend to lead to converging verticals that need either the Tilt/Shift lens treatment or some perspective adjustment using software like Lightroom. You seem to have found good angles and vantage points. We did Siem Reap 2 years ago and I’d like to go back and have another go with a bit more experience behind me. There is a very nice Raffles Hotel there and Mrs. Ha bought some nice fabrics locally. Highly recommended but this looks equally impressive. Is it easy to get to?


  5. High praise indeed from my favourite photographer! Thank you, thank you.

    It was incredibly frustrating to photograph and just as you said (though you say it so much more eloquently than I ever could) it IS all about perspective.

    Borobudur is older than Siem Reap and may possibly be bigger (not that size matters LOL) and yes, it is easy to get to. I recommend that you stay in Jogja and from there hire a driver for the day. It’s about an hours drive and that in itself is an adventure as you pass the mighty Mount Merapi on the way.

    Mount Merapi’s eruptions – The Big Picture – Boston.com


  6. Hi Lottie – these are such wonderful photos. Really brings back the memories of visiting as a child and being completely overwhelmed, firstly by the huge scale and then by the intricacy of every carving, which you show here – the black and white shots are perfect.
    When I saw your photos with no people there I thought perhaps it was as pristine as when we were there. If you can believe it we visited with one of the local missionary priests in 1973 (maybe) before the site was officially open and we were the only people there.
    There was another temple nearby which had three gigantic buddhas inside – I’m wondering if my memory is right that this was near Borobudur or somewhere else.


    1. Hello Chas, I loved hearing about your visit there in’73. You are right, it is an overwhelming experience and must have been especially so if you were a child because everything when we are young looks HUGE and this place is VAST!

      The day we visited it was choc a bloc with visitors but I’m getting more used to taking photos in tourist spots and I’ve learnt to be much more patient. If you wait long enough, people move out of the way and then I’m in there with the camera snapping away!

      I’m thrilled that you like the B&W ones, they are my favourites too. There were so many reliefs, each telling a story that you would have to have at least 100 lifetimes to be able to study them all.

      Thanks again for your kind comments and for your memories of Borobudur. Lottie


  7. I have visited Borobudur for several times now, but I will never get bored of it. Every visit brought the same excitement to me, especially the moment when the giant stupa is visible from the distance.


    1. Bama, Thanks for your comment 🙂

      I’ve only been to Borobudur once but I’m looking forward to re-visiting it. I could never tire or bore of it either. It’s one of the most extraordinary and beautiful places that I’ve ever visited.


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