One of the most spectacular places in the world is Borobudur. Never heard of it? Me neither, until I saw a picture of the hotel Amanjiwo on the cover of a book. Borobudur, situated on Java, Indonesia, 42 km from Yogjarkarta, is the largest Buddhist temple complex in the world, built around the 9th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is surrounded by four volcanoes. Amanjiwo, which was inspired by Borobudur, is nearby.
In the driveway to Amanjiwo the driver stops for a moment and draws our attention to the first extraordinary detail. The hotel lobby was built like a stupa standing on columns and reveals the view of Borobudur in the middle of the background. Just like a picture in a picture.
One of many activities the hotel offers is to see Borobudur when the sun rises before it is open to the public. You wake up at 4 a.m. with a small breakfast before driving to the temple. Having arrived you can take the direct way up using steep stairways or you take some more time and walk along the galleries and the upper terraces in clockwise direction. The way illustrates Buddha’s slow rise to spiritual satori (enlightenment) in countless scenes. None of the galleries reveal the view to the surrounding, the next level or the top to make sure the visitor’s attention is not distracted by anything. Having arrived at the central stupa, which symbolises Nirvana, you can sit down and wait for the sun to rise.
From far away you hear a muezzin while the first sunlight appears on the horizon and the morning mist slowly dissolves over the trees. The rising sun sheds a soft light on the structure and its surrounding where the volcanoes gradually appear. Minute after minute the new day is dawning, nature is revived, and the place is still full of magic.
Back in the hotel, I begin to understand how Amanjiwo is inspired by Borobudur. The building is also arranged in planes, the villas are connected by passages and stairways which do not allow a look to the top or down. The central axis of the hotel is directed at Borobudur where the temple can always be seen in the background. The roofs of the main hall and of the villas are designed in the form of the central stupa. This theme is reflected even in the smallest detail from the stupa-like form of the sun shields to the wooden room key tags.
Some of the villas of Amanjiwo offer a direct view of Borobudur. Standing on the yoga mat, looking at the temple, memories that last forever.
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