From Java, the King of Indonesia and home to some of the most stunning religious architecture in Asia, to Bali, Island of the Gods. This is one of my top 5 places to visit because it is full of culture and spiritual heritage.
Places to See
Looming out of a patchwork of bottle-green paddies and swaying palm tops, this colossal Buddhist relic is one of southeast Asia’s marvels. It has survived Gunung Merapi’s ash flows, terrorist bombs and the wear and tear of a million pairs of tourist flipflops to remain as enigmatic and beautiful as it must have been 1200 years ago.
Borobudur is built from two million block stones in the form of a massive symmetrical stupa, literally wrapped around a small hill. It stands solidly on its 118m x 118m (387ft x 387ft) base. Six square terraces are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading up through finely carved gateways to the top. The paintwork is long gone, but it’s thought that the grey stone of Borobudur was at one time washed with a colour to catch the sun.
Set in plunging craters at the summit of a volcano, the coloured lakes of Kelimutu are undoubtedly the most spectacular sight in Nusa Tenggara. Astonishingly, the lakes periodically change hue – today one may be iridescent turquoise, its neighbour chocolate brown and a third lake dark green.
A few years ago the colours were blue, maroon and black, while back in the 1960s the lakes were blue, red-brown and café au lait.
It’s thought that the lakes’ colours are in constant flux due to dissolving minerals, a process that can accelerate in the rainy season. The moonscape around the summit gives Kelimutu an ethereal atmosphere, especially when clouds billow across the craters and sun shafts add luminescent pinpoints to the lakes.
Lore Lindu National Park
This large and remote national park has barely been touched by tourism. It’s a wonderful area for trekking, rich in exotic plant and animal life. The butterflies there can be larger than a human hand. It’s also home to several indigenous tribes who wear colourful clothing for their traditional ceremonies.
Attractions in the park include ancient megalithic relics, mostly in the Bada, Besoa and Napu Valleys; remote peaks, some more than 2500m (8200ft); bird-watching around Kamarora; and the large lake of Danau Lindu.
At the bottom of a lush green valley is one of Bali’s oldest, most charming and certainly largest ancient monuments. Gunung Kawi consists of 10 rock-cut candi (shrines), memorials cut out of the rock face in imitation of actual statues. They stand in 7m-high (23ft-high) sheltered niches cut into the sheer cliff face.