Beyond Bali; Yogyakarta has it all to pull Indian tourists

By Nirbhay Kumar

Yogyakarta, Dec 11 (UNI) Indians may be queuing up to explore the beautiful Bali in Indonesia, but there are many other places in the Southeast Asian country that remain less explored and underrated. Yogyakarta is one such destination.

The Prambanan temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Borobudur Buddhist temple in the Special Region of Yogyakarta are just awe-inspiring and may be waiting in the wings to become mega-tourism hotspots. Both are UNESCO world heritage sites.

As per UNESCO, Prambanan Temple was built in the 10th century and is the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia.

The Borobudur Buddhist temple was constructed between about 778 and 850 CE, under the Shailendra dynasty. It was built with gray volcanic stones and remains one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.

The direct air connectivity between India and Indonesia is set to trigger a tourist rush to the two world heritage sites.

“Bali has fast emerged as a major tourist destination, but there are many places beyond Bali in Indonesia,” said Basir Ahmed, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in India, during an interaction with visiting Indian journalists as part of the ASEAN-India media exchange program.

Ahmed hopes that one of the Indian airlines will soon start direct flights to Jakarta from Delhi, giving a push to tourist flow between the two countries.

In August this year, Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo launched direct flights between Mumbai and Jakarta, the Indonesian capital and a bustling metropolis.

Indonesia being the key country in the regional grouping ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and India being its close partner, the movement of people between the two nations is set to deepen the relations, even though there are several common cultural threads that ensure a strong bond.

Many people from Indonesia are equally keen to visit India and feel the deep cultural connection.

“I have been dreaming of visiting India for pilgrimage and seeing the Holy Ganga,” said Suwardi, a resident of Yogyakarta who regularly performs puja at Prambanan temple.

Sutresno, a retired teacher and practicing Hindu, said that their ancestors came from India and therefore keeps India in high regard.

With India and Indonesia sharing close commercial and cultural ties for centuries, there is huge bilateral trade potential between the two countries.

A senior official in the Indian embassy said that India and Indonesia are aiming for a total bilateral trade of US$50 billion by 2025.

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