A stone’s throw from the spiritual site that is Borobudur, is the serenely beautiful Amanjiwo. By Cai Mei Khoo.
Hidden in the verdant plains of Central Java, surrounded by four volcanoes with the evergeen Menoreh Hills rising just behind it, is a slice of paradise called Amanjiwo. Located just over an hour away from busy Yogyakarta, Amanjiwo, which means ‘peaceful soul’, merges quiet luxury with front-row views of Borobudur, one of the most important and evocative Buddhist sites in the world.
Rising up from nearby paddy fields, this magnificent temple, which dates back to the 8th Century, is visible from most parts of the hotel, from the grand entrance and open-air dining pavilion to the beautifully appointed Borobudur pool suites with impressive fourposter beds on a terrazzo platform.
Of course, a view of the temple from your private plunge pool is simply not enough. While some might be tempted to just lounge by the sparkling waters and order delicious mee goreng and refreshing cocktails, if there’s one thing you must do when you’re here, it’s a visit to Borobudur. A guided tour, more specifically an early visit before dawn to catch the breathtaking sunrise is highly recommended despite the daunting 4am wake-up call.
With a small torch and a personal guide to accompany you, climbing Borobudur is a spiritual experience in itself. Each level represents a symbolic plane of consciousness, replicating Buddha’s ascent to enlightenment. Pay special attention to the intricate stone carvings from local artisans that cover each level, each one relating a story from Buddha’s life. In the cloak of dawn, climb straight up to the top, pick a choice spot, and soak up the tranquility of the surroundings as you await sunrise. The mist that surrounds the temple and the astounding Mount Merapi in the distance only serves to enhance the mystical aura of the area.
Post-cultural and spiritual awakening, head back to the hotel for a dip in the infinity pool, nestled within paddy fields and shaded by large banyan trees. The Pool Club, crafted from local paras stone curves in a semi-circle around the pool, mimicking the architectural design of Borobudur. In fact, the design of the whole hotel pays homage to the temple, as seen on the bell-shaped rotunda that tops the main building as well as the semi-circular layout of the hotel’s suites, arranged over two levels and connected by paras stone walls and walkways.
Food is excellent, in particular the hotel’s signature Makan Malam set, an appetising introduction to Javanese cuisine. Served in the open-air, silver leaf-finished Dining Room with gamelan music playing in the background, the dining experience is traditional, romantic, and
Borobudur is made up of six square platforms, three circular platforms, and a main dome at the top, all of which represent the different layers of Buddhist theory.
Opt for a tantalising picnic breakfast at a serene spot on the nearby Dagi Hill, which offers a bird’s eye view of the majestic Borobudur.
Central Java is also home to countless temples including the ancient Hindu temple of Prambanan and some of the oldest Hindu temples in the Dieng Plateau.
Central Java is known as the arts centre of Indonesia. Don’t forget to browse the countless art shops and pick up a glass painting or even a local paras stone sculpture.
A two-hour drive away from Amanjiwo is Solo, home to silversmiths, musicians, artists, and dancers. There are also two Javanese- Hindu temples of note, Sukuh and Cetho, both of which date back to the 15th Century. speaks of a royal past. The Terrace, located just past the Dining Room, is the perfect place to take in views of Borobudur and the volcanoes in the distance, or to enjoy a post-dinner cocktail.
Whether it’s a long weekend break or for an extended period, a getaway to Central Java is one that will ignite your cultural senses and leave you with a renewed sense of inner calm and peace. Equally popular with honeymooners, the distinct charm of Borobudur and Amanjiwo is such that you will be making plans to return as soon as you check out. Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia. Tel: +62 2937 88333. www.amanresorts.com
GET THE LOOK
The lobby of Amanjiwo
The lush swimming pool
A bedroom suite