I was woken up at 3:30 in the morning. Pre- dawn, really. I signed up for the Sunrise Borobudur Temple Tour because I had read how this was the best time to capture everything mystical about the famed Temple grounds.
Even before going there myself, I’d always thought of dawn as the most opportune moment to catch whatever form of alchemy people release into the air when they are fast asleep. Dreaming, I suppose, would be the most conducive place where magic can actually thrive. Because logic can easily turn to rainbow- flavored jelly when the mind is completely at peace; open to things reality would otherwise dismiss as a bunch of mumbo- jumbo.
So there I was, bundled up in jacket and scarf, to witness magic in Borobudur.
It was a 20- minute drive to the Temple grounds. The dark countryside all around smelled of wet grass. In front of the car’s headlights hovered a cool, light fog.
I was handed a flash light to go all the way up the Temple. The stone steps were uneven, carved pieces of cool lava stone jutting here and there. It was pitch dark at some spots, I could not tell where real people ended and where the Buddha’s sculptures began. Other tourists were trailing my very steps, I could hear coughing and panting as they all walked up in mostly silence. It was like being in the library. It just felt like nobody was supposed to make much noise. At some point of the climb, my sleep- deprived brain had to be reminded that this procession was not just a dream.
As soon as I reached the top, I saw everything. The fog all over Borobudur, silhouettes of mountains and trees, the sky… which at one point was black, then grayish blue, then pink.
My knowledgeable tour guide Hassan (22 years in the business) told me everything about the Borobudur Temple: facts, mysticism, theories, fables, faith. Built way back in the 9th Century and restored just a few times after that, I slowly came to know that the magic of Borobudur Temple lies not in any given time of the day but its sheer presence all throughout these years of world history.
Having lived for so long, how many secrets do you think this great Temple holds?
After a few hours of going around the Temple grounds, the sun finally took over the sky.
All the scary shadows of dawn revealed themselves to be intricate details of cultures and stories forever carved in stone.
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