Yogyakarta touts itself as the cultural capital of Indonesia. One of the reasons is Borobudur, a massive stupa that tells the story of the Buddha's early life and past lives in thousands of intricately carved stone panels. Visitors ascend to the top by walking clockwise through three levels of Buddhist cosmology—the world of desire, the world of forms, and the realm of formlessness.

But the people who built Borobudur in the 9th century abandoned it soon after, and it was gradually sinking into the Javanese soil until 1975, when UNESCO funded a massive restoration project to take the whole thing apart, pour a concrete foundation, and reassemble it stone by stone.

Today there are few Buddhists in Indonesia, but for the past 13 years dozens of local organizations have held an annual demonstration on the grounds to elevate Borobudur's status as a sacred site.