Bu­colic BLISS

A stone’s throw from the spir­i­tual site that is Borobudur, is the serenely beau­ti­ful Aman­jiwo. By Cai Mei Khoo.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Postcards -

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

TRAVEL TIPS

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

Sun­glasses, Bul­gari

The lobby of Aman­jiwo

The lush swim­ming pool

A bed­room suite

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