(2012 Winter Holidays in Indonesia, Mark C. Eades and Nick Carruthers)
For the past four weeks I and my friend and colleague from Shanghai, Nick Carruthers, have been traveling in Indonesia. Arriving in the capital city of Jakarta from Shanghai four weeks ago, we first traveled to Bali, then to the tiny island of Gili Trawangan off Lombok, then returned via Bali to Yogyakarta on the island of Java (Yogyakarta is known also as Jogjakarta, often shortened to Yogya or Jogja). Yogyakarta is Java's intellectual and cultural capital, and played an important role in the movement for independence from Dutch colonial rule. The area is most famous internationally, however, as home to the Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the Hindu temple of Prambanan, both built between the 8th and 10th centuries and listed today as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Borobudur, built around the 9th century under the Sailendra Dynasty to honor the Lord Buddha and as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage, is considered one the world's greatest Buddhist monuments. It comprises a stack of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with more than 2000 relief panels and more than 500 statues of Buddha. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa. Believed to have been abandoned around the 14th century during the decline of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms and the rise of Islam in Indonesia, Borobudur was "rediscovered" for the world during a brief period of British rule between 1811 and 1816 by British colonial governor Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. The monument was restored with help from UNESCO in the 1970s and '80s, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. (see UNESCO, Wikipedia).
Temple reliefs, Borobudur:
Nick at Borobudur:
Prambanan, built around the 9th century under the Sanjaya Dynasty to honor the Hindu trinity of Brahman, Shiva, and Vishnu, is the greatest Hindu temple in Indonesia and among the greatest in all of Southeast Asia. The temple complex consists of 16 main temples in the central square and more than 200 smaller temples in the surrounding complex area. Believed to have been abandoned following a shift of power to East Java in the 10th century - possibly owing to an eruption of the nearby Merapi volcano - Prambanan was reduced to ruins in a major earthquake in the 16th century, and "rediscovered" under British rule between 1811 and 1816. Restoration of the site began under Dutch rule in the 1930s, and continues to this day. Prambanan was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. (see UNESCO, Wikipedia)
Mural in support of the Palestinian cause, Yogyakarta:
Me at Water Palace, Yogyakarta:
The Yogyakarta area is also home to Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, with smoke constantly drifting from its mouth. Merapi's frequent eruptions include a 1930 eruption in which 1400 people died; and its most recent in October-November 2010 killing 353 people, displacing nearly 400,000 local residents, reducing the mountain's height by 38 meters, and cutting short a November visit to Indonesia by Barack and Michelle Obama.
File photos from 2010 Merapi eruption:
See also: Original footage of 1930 Merapi eruption (Youtube).