With a population exceeding 145 million, Java is the most heavily populated island on the planet. Home to Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta, Java is one of the most multi-cultural parts of the country, a melting pot of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist cultures. In addition to the bustling cities on the island, Java is home to rich, extensive history and beautiful natural landscapes.
One of the most beautiful places on the idyllic island, Mount Bromo is an active volcano and a major aspect of the Tengger massif. The volcano is truly a sight to behold and is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. It is highly popular amongst hikers and is accessible to most able-bodied people, taking an average of 45 minutes to reach the summit. The volcano is also a place of major cultural and religious importance to the Tenggerese People, who live in nearby villages in East Java. At the end of the Hindu festival Yadnya Kasada they travel to the peak to give offerings to the mountain gods.
One of Indonesia’s most important historical sites, Prambanan is the country’s largest Hindu temple site and a major feat of Hindu architecture. Dating back over a thousand years ago, the temple complex was built around 850. One of the most impressive and significant Hindu sites in the world, Prambanan is a major draw for tourists due to this significance and the intricacies of its design.
Another hugely significant religious site on the island, Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. Dating back to the 9th Century, Borobudur is an immense structure which features 72 Buddha statues. The definitive masterpiece of Javanese Buddhist architecture, it was built under the orders of the Sailendra Dynasty. Falling into neglect around the 14th Century, the temple complex was renovated in the early 20th Century and remains a highly popular site amongst tourists and pilgrims.
Located in the capital city of Jakarta, the National Museum of Indonesia is considered to be the finest museum in the country. Established in the late 18th Century in 1778, the museum features a rich and extensive collection of artefacts numbering over 140,000. The collection is diverse and encompasses a variety of different areas including sculptures and ceramics among many more. One of the finest museums in Southeast Asia, the National Museum is one of Indonesia’s most vital cultural institutions.
Often overlooked in favour of the more bustling capital of Jakarta, Yogyakarta is smaller but no less distinct and energetic. The city is the best place to access Borobudur and Prambanan and has a number of unmissable sights of its own. The city is known for being a cultural and artistic centre of Indonesia, particularly well known for its textile industry as well as its culture of theatre.
main image: Borobudur, Java, courtesy of VasenkaPhotography, Flickr Creative Commons