The awesome Borobudur Temple

The awesome Borobudur Temple which is considered the world’s largest Buddhist monument, is a very ancient religious site that has been widely considered as one of the Seven Wonders of this world.
The Borobudur Temple was constructed during the 9th century by the monarchs of the Syailendra  dynasty who ruled central Java in Indonesia during that time.
Although the Borobudur Temple has several unique Indonesian aspects in its architectural style, however this temple also reflects Indian architectural resemblances pertaining to the Gupta architectural style.
As one of the most visited tourist attraction and also a famous cultural heritage of Indonesia, Borobudur is truly a marvel on stones that sits on a hilltop overlooking the lush, green fields and distant hills on Java Island.


Although there are several etymological disputes about the origin of the name ‘Borobudur’, however according to most accepted references, the name Borobudur has possibly been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vihara Buddha Uhr’ which means “Buddhist Monastery on the Hill”.
The Sanskrit word ‘Vihara Buddha Uhr’, when it is pronounced in a corrupted, simplified, local Javanese dialect, its sounds more akin to “Biara Beduhur”.


Although there are no written records as to who started building this majestic temple, nor are there any clues about the intended purpose of building such a magnanimous edifice, however it has been estimated from the archaeological findings that this temple was constructed around 800 CE.

This was the time when the mighty Sailendra  dynasty ruled Java (760-830CE) under the influence of the Srivijayan Empire.

According to historical records, the construction of this temple was completed during the reign of King

Borobudur. Photo by null0

Samaratungga in 825 CE.
It took around 75 years to complete the construction of this Buddhist monument in central Java.
Later on as King Mpu Sindok moved the capital city of the Medang Kingdom to East Java and owing to the decline of Buddhism in the Indonesian territories, Borobudur was abandoned soon after its completion and thereafter, this place lay forgotten for centuries, buried under layers of volcanic ash and dense tropical undergrowth.

It was in 1815 CE, when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles governed Java that this historic site was cleared and people once again regained their knowledge about the historic ruins of Borobudur.

Thereafter, during the early 20th century, the Dutch began tackling the restoration of the Borobudur Temple complex. But over the passage of several centuries, the supporting hills around this temple had become waterlogged, the immense stone mass of this monument started subsiding and so, it took approximately $25 million USD to restore this historic edifice between 1973 and 1983.

Nevertheless, on January 21st 1985, another misfortune happened to this temple as bombs planted by the opponents of Soeharto exploded on the upper layers of this historic site.

Photo by unknown

Many stupas inside the temple complex were damaged by this felonious act which were also later on completely restored. This restoration demonstrated the structure’s timeless resilience, and in 1991 Borobudur gained the status of a World Heritage site.

,h2>Architecture and StyleThe Borobudur Temple complex covers an enormous area which measures 123 square meters. The inside of the monument is decorated with 504 Buddhist statues, most of which are headless and disfigured due to the ravages of time and 2,672 relief panels which depicts various stages of Gautama Buddha’s life.

This monument, which is a marvel of design, was built like a set of massive interlocking Lego blocks which were held together without the use of any kind of cement, mortar, or glue.

This monument is both a place for Buddhist pilgrimage and also a shrine to Lord Buddha.

Photo by Trey Ratcliff

The ten levels of this temple symbolizes the three divisions of the Buddhist cosmic system.

As a visitor making their way to the top of this monument, one must start their journey from the base of this temple and then walks through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology:

  • Kamadhatu – which signifies the world of desire..
  • Rupadhatu – which signifies the world of forms.
  • Arupadhatu – which signifies the world of formlessness.

Although from the ground, the Borobudur monument resembles a giant stupa, but when seen from above, the structure replicates the form of a Buddhist mandala .

This great stupa  sits 40 meters above the ground, and the main dome of this gigantic holy structure is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, those that are seated inside the perforated stupas carved on this edifice.
Approximately 72,000 cubic yards of Andesite stones, which were transported from neighboring stone quarries, were used for the construction of this gigantic monument. The reliefs that were engraved upon the temple walls were created in-situ after the completion of this edifice.

The bas-relief in Borobudur depicts several scenes of the 8th-century daily life in ancient Java. These reliefs illustrates sculptured images of hermits in the forest, temples, various flora and fauna of this region, courtly palace life, images of kings, maritime activities, and others.
There are also reliefs which depicts images of several mythical spiritual beings such as the Gods: Asuras, Boddhisattvas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, and of the Jataka tales which represent the previous lives of Lord Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha.

At the top of the Borobudur Temple, there is a vacant space which symbolizes the fact that this emptiness signifies completion.

Travelers, most often, spend some time resting and marveling at the magnificent view of the surrounding lush mountains once they reach this place.

Museums in Borobudur

There are two museums which are located within the Borobudur Temple complex that is also known as the
Borobudur Archaeological Park
. These museums are located just a few hundred meters to the north of the main temple complex and the tickets for entering these museums are included along with the Borobudur entrance fees.

The Karmawibhanga Museum

This is one of the two museums that displays the restoration process, several archaeological findings as well as the photographs of Karmawibhanga relief which lays hidden near the foot of Borobudur.

The Samudraraksa Museum

Located inside this historical park displays the actual size replica of the Borobudur Ship, and also the maritime technology that was used during the 8th century AD.
It also provides a plethora of information on the maritime trade of the Indian Ocean during this time, where these ships have been a part of the famous Cinnamon Route which linked Indonesia with Sri Lanka and also Africa, several centuries ago.


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