Bali and Borneo are well-known travel destinations in Indonesia. But most of the travelers who visit Indonesia often ignore the beautiful island of Java. Unlike its neighbor Bali, Java has a different landscape comprising of volcanoes, lush paddy fields, and coffee plantations. Java has some of the most significant and ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples. This also includes the Borobudur Temple, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
Among the natural experiences, you can hike to some active volcanoes or through dense rainforests. You can spend time in Javanese countryside in the Savannah grasslands with paddy fields or laze around on its pristine beaches.
While traveling in Java, you would get a great value for your money. Since it is not as touristy as Bali, it is almost certain that you would get a closer experience of Indonesian people and culture.
Here are the top 5 places to visit in the world’s most populated island.
Located in the heart of Yogyakarta, Kraton is the political and cultural capital of Yogyakarta. It is the palace of the sultans of Yogyakarta, a small walled city in the city itself. Inhabited by 25,000 around people, Kraton has its own market, schools, industries, and mosques. The current residence of the Sultan was built in the mid-eighteenth century. However, some European style modifications were made later.
Courtyards and pavilions form an integral part of Javanese palaces. Today, these pavilions are a host of different purposes. The most prominent of them include gamelan (Indonesian orchestra) and a museum of numerous royal collections. One of the rooms contains the family tree of the royal family and the old photos of former sultans. There are the separate entrances to the complex for women and men. Something remarkable to look for are the huge female and male dragons at the respective entrances.
Surrounded by palm trees and rice fields, the Buddhist temple of Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Built around 750-850 A.D., it was abandoned with the fall of Buddhism on in Java. The temple came to light in the early nineteenth century due to the initiative by a British governor. Subsequently, he restored the temple and brought it to its original grandeur.
Borobudur temple became a World Heritage site in 1991. The temple consists of several square and circular terraces, which you can access through beautifully carved doors. To reach the top of the temple you have to pass through the different levels. On the walls, you would find sculptures and pictures that tell the story of Buddha. There are hundreds of such sculptures of him spread throughout the structure. Once reaching on top, you can see the top view of hundreds of Buddha statues and stupas. The sheer size, quietness, and spirituality of the place would surely amaze you.
Since that site lies only 40 km from Yogyakarta, you can visit Borobudur as a day trip.
Prambanan is the most prominent Hindu temple not only in Java, but also in Indonesia. The complex consists of several temples, with three main temples and these three temples are dedicated to three prominent Hindu Gods- Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. The temple of Shiva is the highlight of the complex for its size and rich sculptural details. The main spire of this temple rises to an incredible 47 m. Its base has small sculpted lions surrounded by trees and other celestial creatures.
You can also walk along the ruins to visit the last temple, Plaosan Temple which is 3 km away from the main complex.
The temple reflects influences of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The legend says that this is the result of the marriage of the Buddhist princess and the Hindu prince.
Having traveled to man-made marvels, Mount Bromo is a great escape into nature. Although Mount Bromo is a relatively smaller volcano, it is incredibly beautiful. Hidden behind the haze and clouds between the volcanic ranges, it is the most hiked mountain in Indonesia.
This active volcano sits in the Tennger crater which has a diameter of nearly 10 kilometers. Don’t miss the sunrise from Gunung Penanjakan. It offers a wonderful view of the sun rising beyond the clouds and gradually eliminating the darkness. You can go all the way up to the crater rim and view the vast expanse of hollow land. Mount Bromo is an active volcano and it still spews harmful Sulphur gasses. This is the reason that parts of this volcano are inaccessible for safety purposes.
The hike to Mount Bromo is an easy one; still, it rewards you with splendid views. It gives to opportunities to interact with local Tennger people and taste authentic Indonesian food.
The climb to Kawah Ijen is steep, but it’s definitely worth it. At 2,148 meters above the sea level, you can see a turquoise lake surrounded by the walls of a volcano. This lake is the largest highly acid lake in the world. Kawah Ijen is abundant in the yellow element, Sulphur. During your climb, you can see sulphur-miners carrying massive blocks of sulfur in baskets on their shoulders. The sulfur vapors rising from the volcano imposes huge health risks.
As dangerous as it sounds, it is an even more magical sight. Kawah Ijen is a volcano of an interesting natural phenomenon- unlike anywhere else! You can see glowing blue fire flowing out of the volcano, which is a result of chemical reactions taking place.
The Kawah Ijen climb is not an ordinary climb- it’s something which you can boast among your friends!