Java is ranked the unattractive 13th among the largest island in the world. One thing is for sure: the 13th was unlucky with a neighbor: it knows firsthand what the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" means. It is difficult to compete with the neighboring Bali and to be perceived only as a transit point. But in fact, Java is a very independent, interesting and large region of Indonesia. The largest one, but first things first.
- Why is Java interesting
Many have heard about Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, but few people know that here, on an area of 150,000 square kilometers, there is a beautiful island, which houses four of the eight UNESCO heritage sites of the whole country. It is here that tourists from Bali come. Can the carefree life on the coast, plenty of fruits, fresh seafood, white beaches, towering waterfalls and the Indian Ocean be so exhausting that they seek refuge on a neighboring island, subjecting themselves to many hours of travel? A visit to the mystery island is worth it.
Java, immersed in greenery, is a fabulous island. Almost half of its territory is covered with jungle, among which formidable and delightful volcanoes rise majestically. Ujung Kulon, one of the largest and most picturesque national parks in Indonesia, is located here, and it is impossible not to fall in love with it. And the largest volcano of the island gathers dozens of tours every day at its foot.
- How to get around Java
There are so many islands in Indonesia that it is difficult to decide on a visit to the most interesting one. But the choice of the point to explore is influenced by the logistics of flights. So, planes fly to most of the islands through the island of Bali or through the capital Jakarta. But if you do not want to fly back and forth through Denpasar or the capital every time, try to choose islands with direct flights if possible. For example, get from Sumatra to Java. There is something to do here, the main thing is not to miss the volcanoes and the main attractions of Yogyakarta - the magnificent Buddhist temple Borobudur and the ancient Hindu complex Prambanan. And save the insanely beautiful pink and purple sunsets on the beaches of the Indian Ocean for last.
In order to visit the designated spots, rent a car with a driver (it will cost $ 40 per day, including gas and parking fees).
- Borobudur Temple on the island of Java
The main attraction of the island of Java, included in the register of the world architectural and historical heritage of UNESCO, is the Borobudur Temple, which is a significant Hindu-Buddhist shrine. In a small area of Indonesia, there are more than a hundred active volcanoes. More than sixty of them are located on the island of Java. In the southern part of Java, surrounded by four volcanoes, there is one of the world's largest Buddhist monuments - the Borobudur Temple Compounds.
The temple has more than five hundred various statues of Buddha, and the time of its construction took eighty years thirteen centuries ago. And this is only a small part of the beauty of the island. Vacation in Java is a fabulous dream came true.
- History of the construction of the Borobudur Temple
Borobudur was built on a natural hill around the beginning of the ninth, at the end of the eighth century A.D. But after a couple of hundred years, the Buddhist sanctuary was abandoned for a long time. Presumably due to the eruption of Mount Merapi in 1006, the Buddhist temple Borobudur was covered with ash, and later overgrown with jungle. The eruption of the volcano forced the locals to leave their lands. The reason why the Javanese civilizations left Borobudur and did not make attempts to rebuild it remains unclear to this day.
A hill made of a large number of carved stones was discovered in 1814. After that, there were many years of attempts to clean up the ruins. In 1835, the upper levels of the monument were cleared, and the temple complex could be clearly seen, but the structure of the complex remained unclear. Only at the end of the twentieth century, thanks to large financial investments and ten years of restoration work under the auspices of UNESCO, the greatest monument of Indonesian art was completely restored. Borobudur practically had to be completely disassembled to strengthen the foundation, and then reassembled. Today, Borobudur looks dignified and solemn - just like a thousand years ago.
- What to see near the Borobudur Temple and where to stay
The five square terraces below and three circular terraces at the top of the monument look a little bit like the rice paddy terraces on the slopes of the neighboring hills. The walls along the lower terraces, 118 meters long, are decorated with carved figures symbolizing religious themes. There are 1460 carved bas-reliefs in total. The upper levels, gradually decreasing in size, are decorated with hundreds of Buddha statues and small bell-shaped stupas, which are lined up around the central large stupa.
It makes sense to visit the temple at dawn, when there are very few people and you can feel the mystery and silence of this place.
Travelers and pilgrims who have decided to touch the medieval Buddhist sanctuary will be pleasantly surprised by the modern resort of Amanjiwo, located just a five-minute drive from Borobudur. There is also an opportunity to stay at the Manohara hotel, which is located in a closed park near Borobudur. Well, if you are used to five-star service, then Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is exactly what you need. In the city center, there is a chic Borobudur Hotel, with a business center and many attractions nearby.
The main secret of Java is the Buddhist Borobudur in the mystical Kedu Valley. Standing on the upper terrace, Gunadharma watched the stone cutters dismantle the stairs. The smoke of the fires stretched towards the foot of Merapi, mixing with the smoke of the volcano... 504 stone Buddhas, carved by Gunadharma from black volcanic stone, smiled over the Kedu Valley. Borobudur, where did the Buddha's heads go?
- Prambanan Temple on the island of Java
Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Its atmosphere is steeped in antiquity and brings the imagination into ancient Javanese history. Here, Javanese guides will offer a guided tour of the entire stone complex that has darkened with time. They will guide you to the temples of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, as well as to the temples dedicated to their vehicles (bull, eagle, goose).
During the tour, you will learn how so many religions are mixed in the country. Initially, the main religion in Indonesia was animism, belief in spirits and ancestors, in short, paganism. In the first centuries of our era, Hinduism came to the Indonesian archipelago. And it remained the dominant religion until the final flourishing of Islam in the 16th century. Buddhism, the second ancient religion of the archipelago, came here in the 6th century. The penetration of Islam began in the 12th century, when traders from western India, who were predominantly Muslim, began to visit the western islands of Indonesia. At the moment, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, where the number of adherents of Islam exceeds 88%. Today, there are only about 3% of Hindus, but it is interesting that there are about 93% of them on the island of Bali.
- Other interesting things to see on the island of Java
Java is home to the kepel tree, which seems to be unremarkable at first glance. But the thing is that the fruits grow not only on the branches, but also on the trunk. Anyway, this is not the most interesting thing, but the fact that having tasted these fruits, a person begins to smell of violets. The kepel tree is called a natural deodorant, since the person who eats its fruit can smell a floral scent for a long time. This is due to the fact that the substances contained in it aromatize the liquid in the human body.
- Volcanoes of Java
It is worth going to Java to see the Ijen volcano. It will be a difficult journey - an hour by ferry, another hour and a half to reach the volcano, and a hike to the top - 2500 m.
You will smell sulfur in the air, a lifeless desert will be around you, poisonous clouds of gas are formed before your eyes, and the locals manage to work here - this volcano has been a source of natural sulfur for 700 years.
In the crater of the volcano, there is the world's largest lake with sulfuric and hydrochloric acids.
It is worth going here to watch the sunrise. Descending into the crater of an active volcano and witnessing the blue flame of burning hydrogen sulfide with your own eyes is an incredible adventure worth experiencing! ⠀
- Caves of Java
There are many caves on the island of Java, and each one is remarkable for something (depth, length, original illumination, passage of the cave on a canoe along the underground rivers). Choose Jomblang to replenish your low adrenaline level. The cave tour is carried out strictly in time from 10 to 12 in the morning and the number of visitors per day is also limited. This cave has the best natural light until two o'clock in the afternoon and you need to be there in time. As a matter of fact, the last few kilometers of the way to the cave will already set you to the future extreme: there is actually no way, but just a direction.
Each participant of the tour is given equipment: a helmet and rubber boots. Everyone is lowered into the cave through a hole in the ground, wearing special equipment. Visitors are lowered one by one on a rope to the huge entrance to the cave from fifty meters in height.
It won't take long to walk through the cave. The final goal of the tour will be the place where the sun rays fall into the opening of the cave vault, illuminating it from the inside.
When you reach your destination, there will be a feeling of being taken to the Lost World. To get back to the surface, cave tourism organizers use locals. About twenty people manually pull the rope with two people on it.
- A gift from the island of Java
In Java, they believe that a real man should have five values: kris, home, wife, horse and songbirds. The most interesting souvenir from Java is the kris. Everything in this weapon is unusual: the wavy blade, the handle curved at a large angle, and the scabbard, and even the way people carry it. Not surprisingly, it is included in the UNESCO list of material heritage.
Of course, kris is something more than just a weapon for the inhabitants of the island of Java. They give it a character, a soul, often different from the soul and will of the owner. It can warn of an attack, transform various objects, etc. Often in legends, kris has the ability to move - it can fly around the house and guard the owner's sleep.
The legend of the world's oldest kris, which is chondong champur, says that it was forged by hundreds of blacksmiths from iron collected from all over Indonesia. This happened in the 14th century, during the existence of the state of Majapahit.
On moonless nights, it left the scabbard on its own and killed someone. Then, the angry ruler ordered the blacksmiths to crush the wayward blade in a mortar, but it turned into a meteorite and ascended into the sky. Legend has it that chondong champur returns to earth every 400 years. On its next return, kris will bring trouble to people.
The kris blade is almost always wavy. The number of waves is always odd (usually from 3 to 13, the most popular are 3, 9, 13) and has a certain mystical meaning: 3 - loyalty and luck; 5 - love for the teacher; 7- decency and honesty; 9 - equanimity, endurance; 11 - nobility, wealth, generosity; 13 - strength and peacefulness.
The blade is the soul of kris, it is in it that the quintessence of its "personality" is contained, which is closely related to the owner. It is made of multi-layer Damascus steel. For the blade, two grades of iron are taken, good blades are made from seven grades of iron, and some legendary blades were forged, allegedly, from 20 grades of iron.
Blacksmiths often use meteoric iron to make blades. It is necessary to mention that iron in the 9-10th centuries AD was in short supply and even a luxury item. It is believed that the raw materials were brought to Java by Arab merchants from the Persian Gulf, and the technology of working with Damascus itself probably came from there.
The Damascus pattern on the kris blade is called pamor. The pamor with verses from the Koran was especially appreciated. For poisoning, a mixture of arsenic, sea salt and citrus fruit juice (such as lime) was used. And the hardening of the blades was performed during 3-4 days in boiling rice water with the addition of sulfur and salt. A more sadistic way of hardening: sticking into the body of a slave - such were the times and customs.
Unfamiliar surroundings turn on more parts of the brain. Surprise at the unusual, the energy of new places, comprehension of the time and space of a new culture - all this contributes to living a whole separate life in a new country. Let’s fly to Indonesia?
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