Indonesia's Cultural Wonders
With its long history and rich blend of cultures, Indonesia bursts with significant and wondrous sites
Built in the 9th century, the Borobudur Temple is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument, set on a hillside overlooking the lush surrounding terrain. The enormous monument, located on the island of Java, is a marvel of design, architecture and stonework, featuring 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Visitors should climb to the top of the temple to take in all of its amazing design. For an even more special experience, consider visiting during the Vesak (Waisak) festival, held once a year in May, which celebrates the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha.
Not far from Borobudur, culturally minded travelers can also visit Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia. The temples here were built in the 9th century, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The grand and beautiful temple complex is comprised of three main temples, three Wahana temples, two Apit temples and eight Patok temples – in the main yard alone. Another 224 Perwara temples can be found in the second yard, so it’s not a bad idea to set aside a full day to wander the grounds here.
Ancient Sites of Kokas
At the Ancient Sites of Kokas, visitors can see the remains of prehistoric canyon drawings, depicting palms and animals. The local community often calls these paintings “blood paintings” due to their red color. The sites are located in Andamata, Fior, Forir, Darembang and Goras, in the Kokas district of Fak-Fak, West Papua. The best way to visit the sites is by renting a car, as other transportation options to the area can be unreliable.
Bada Valley Prehistoric Statues
The beautiful Bada Valley (or Napu Valley) is prized for its natural environment, but is also home to some amazing cultural relics. Dozens of ancient, finely carved megaliths (structures built with large stones without the use of mortar or cement) are scattered through the valley, dating back 1,000 – 5,000 years. No one knows who built these statues, which are carved in human or animal form with large, round faces. The mysterious structures can be difficult to access, so it’s a good idea to go with a guide. Bada Valley is located in the District of Poso in Central Sulawesi.