The magnificent ancient Buddhist Temple of Borobudur

The magnificent ancient Buddhist Temple of Borobudur

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Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. Prior to the coming of Islam, however, this archipelago was dominated by Hinduism and Buddhism. One of the most iconic monuments attesting to this pre-Islamic era is the Borobudur Temple Compound in the Kedu Valley, which is situated on the southern part of Central Java.

The Borobudur Temple Compound consists of three monuments, namely the Temple of Borobudur and two smaller temples located on the east on a straight axis to the main temple. The main temple of Borobudur itself is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. This 60,000m³ monument is 34.5m high and has a square base of 123m x 123m. Borobudur was built in three tiers. The base of this temple consists of a pyramid formed by five concentric square terraces. This is followed by the trunk of a cone with three platforms. On the very top is a monumental stupa (a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics). The walls and balustrades of Borobudur are decorated with fine low reliefs depicting various Buddhist scenes.

Borobudur. Source: BigStockPhoto

This temple was built as a Mahayana Buddhist temple around the8th and 9 th century A.D. by the Sailendra dynasty. This dynasty originated either from South India or Indochina. Their presence in Java helped establish the island as a centre of Buddhist scholarship and worship. This is evident in the fact that Chinese coins and ceramics have been found at the site, indicating that it pilgrims from as far away as China once visited this sacred site. In addition, these artefacts suggest that Borobudur was abandoned by the 16 th century A.D. This may be due to the fact that the arrival of Islam on Java during the 13 th and 14 th centuries A.D. shifted the centre of Javan life to the eastern part of the island. Nevertheless, Borobudur was left to decay on its own. Over the next couple of centuries, volcanic eruptions deposited ash on the site, and Borobudur was engulfed by the lush vegetation that grew out of the fertile volcanic ash.

Although Borobudur was a largely forgotten site, it would not remain so forever. In the early 19 th century, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the British governor of Java (and the founder the city of Singapore), heard about Borobudur, and took an interest in it. Hence, an excavation was organised to uncover the temple. Whilst this excavation brought Borobudur back into the limelight, it was had damaging effects on it. By exposing the temple to the elements, the temple began to deteriorate further. Furthermore, stones were casually removed by villagers to be used as building materials, while Buddha heads and other treasures were removed by collectors to be sold to private and public collections around the world.

Borobudur. Source: BigStockPhoto

In 1948, the plight of Borobudur came to the attention of the newly formed Republic of Indonesia. As a result, the preservation of this cultural heritage became a central priority of the government. Two decades later, the “Save Borobudur” campaign was launched through the Indonesian government and UNESCO. This was one of the most ambitious international preservation projects ever attempted, as the monument’s lower terraces were completely dismantled so that each stone could be individually identified, catalogued, cleaned and treated for preservation. In addition, the relief panels were also cleaned and treated to withstand the elements. Furthermore, an extensive drainage system was put in place behind the walls and under the floors of the galleries to reduce erosion. Eight years and $25 million later, the restoration of Borobudur was finally completed. Nevertheless, conservation of this temple has to be continued over the years. For instance, just several months ago, Borobudur was threatened by the eruption of Mount Kelud. In order to protect the temple, some of the stupas were quickly covered in order to protect them from the volcanic ash.

The fact that this incredible Buddhist monument continues to be treasured and protected in a predominantly Muslim country, is testament to its significant value as a cultural and historical icon of Indonesia.

Featured image: The stupas of Borobudur . Source: BigStockPhoto.

By Ḏḥwty


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    Borobudur, the Majesty from the Early Dynasty

    Borobudur is known as the greatest Buddhist monument in the world. It&rsquos not only grand in the literal sense, but also very rich intrinsically.

    Borobudur covers a total surface of approximately 2.500 meter 2 area. It is built on a natural hill with three tiers, which is a unique combination between Javanese ancestor worshipping faith that often represented with a terraced mountain and Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.

    Dramatic and colourful sunrise seen from the Borobudur (c) Shutterstock

    The first tier of Borobudur is the base, representing Kamadhatu, a sphere in Buddhist Universe where we are bound by our desire. The second tier is the five square terraces representing Rupadhatu, a sphere where we already abandon our desires but are still bound to our form and name.

    The third tier is three circular platform and the big stupa in the middle. This top tier represent Arupadhatu, a formlessness sphere where there is no longer name or form.

    It&rsquos not only the size that is impressive, the details surrounding Borobudur is also remarkable. Its walls and balustrades are covered with fine relief that covers approximatey 2.500 meter 2 area. Apart from Buddhist teaching, it also depicts daily lives of absolutely everyone in 8 th century, during the reign of Syailendra Dynasty.

    Today, Borobudur is an extremely popular tourist destination. Borobudur is more than just a colossal monument, it has become an important aspect of everyday life in the area.

    Hunting for an Emotional Sunrise in Borobudur

    Amazing sunset at Borobudur Temple. World Buddhist heritage and great architecture of 9th century. Java island, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

    The splendor of Borobudur is more than what meets the eye. Sometimes combining two beautiful elements create an even greater effect. That is what happens when you combine Borobudur and a sunrise.

    Borobudur means a temple in a high ground, and it literally is. The thing about high ground is that you can get an unobstructed view from it, including when you are trying to catch a beautiful sunrise.

    Watching the sun rises is mundane for some, it rises everyday anyways. However, watching it from certain places can give you quite a spectacle. One of the popular one is chasing sunrise on a beach. Borobudur offers different kind of sensation.

    Imagine watching the sun rises above a misty rainforest with a backdrop of a volcano. And if that&rsquos not enough, feel the warmth of the sun through the nooks and crannies of stupas and Buddha statues. All creates a grandiose that is so personal and emotional for first timers.

    You&rsquoll need a special early ticket to experience this. Borobudur formally open from six in the morning, so you&rsquoll need an early access that let you enter the temple from 04:30. You can easily arrange this as some hotels and agencies offers sunrise packages.

    Mendut and Pawon Temples, a Trilogy

    Candi Mendut Temple, is a 9th century Buddhist temple located In Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

    Borobudur, as a whole, is actually a compound of temples. The biggest one is obviously Borobudur, but there are also Pawon and Mendut Temple. All three form a straight line axis.

    Pawon is in the middle, it&rsquos the smallest one. Pawon means kitchen in Javanese. However, it can also mean a place for &lsquoawu&rsquo or ashes. Many historians believe that Pawon is actually a mortuary for a king, a place to keep the ashes of a cremated king. However, the identity of the king is still unknown.

    Even though Pawon is the smallest among three neighboring temples, its design is considered of highest level in Java. Some experts even consider Pawon is the jewel of Javanese temple architecture. It is slightly older than Borobudur.

    Lastly there is also Mendut temple, the oldest of the three. Mendut originally has two chambers but since the stone separators are missing, now it only has one big room. It houses three stone statues of Buddha.

    The three temples represents the phases in attaining Nirvana. The journey starts at Mendut, then to Pawon and finished at Borobudur.

    Interreligion Praying Shrine at Chicken Church

    Gereja Ayam, the Abandoned Chicken Church which looks like a giant chicken, Indonesia, Magelang, Central Java (c) Shutterstock

    There is a bizarre building at the top of legendary Menoreh Hill. Locals call it Chicken Church because the building, at a glance, looks like rooster. With elongated &lsquobody&rsquo, it has tail feathers and a head complete with beak and crest.

    According to the owner and builder, this is actually a church for all religions, or a praying house where everyone is welcome. It was built to look like a dove, a symbol of peace, but people see it as chicken.

    Daniel Alamsjah built this house after having dreams told him to build a praying house in a hill unknown to him. He later found out about the hill when visiting Borobudur. Later, he rename the hill as Rhema Hill.

    This building has been used as drug rehabilitation center and mental health center. Nowadays, this unique building is a tourist destination with religious concept. Its popularity shot up after being used as a set of Ada Apa dengan Cinta 2 Movie.

    Living the Life of a Local for a Day

    Sunrise Borobudur Temple (c) Shutterstock

    There are lots of luxurious and expensive accommodation near Borobudur. You can pretty much get whatever you need in so many suites that hotels offer.

    However, there is other way to enjoy the region. You can opt to stay at many homestays in several villages surrounding the temples. All of these homestays belong lo local villagers who are under supervision from the government.

    Ngaran II and Candirejo are quite successful homestay villages. A village commonly provide 40-75 rooms for rent, with quite cheap rate, especially if you compare it with hotels.

    Not only you can stay in an actual house of a local, you might even try to live like them for a day. Candirejo, for example, offers many packages that let you to tour the village, try your hand at traditional farming, learn how to play gamelan, and many more.

    White Water Rafting at Elo River

    Rafting in Elo River, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java (c) Shutterstock

    Borobudur area is not only about culture and history. For more adventurous souls, Elo River offer a different experience than other nearby spots.

    Elo offers grade II to III rafting which means it is safe for beginners. You don&rsquot need prior rafting experience to enjoy this. You don&rsquot even need to swimming skills. This is ideal for beginners who want to get into rafting. Needless to say, you will get proper safety equipment and skilled instructors.

    The track is about 12,5 km long, and it will take approximately three hours to complete it. Apart from rafting gears, you&rsquoll also get refreshment during break and free meal afterward. You can even get a rafting certificate!

    Apart from rafting, there are also camping ground, paintball arena, flying fox, and outbound training service.

    Chasing Sunsets at the Top of the Hills

    Over Ray Of Light (c) Shutterstock

    Many people will go one step further to make the most of a common situation. Many people think that sunrises or sunsets are mundane event that happens every day. And yet, people are willing to climb high to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

    Near Borobudur, there are several hills that provide just that. You can go to Puthuk Mongkrong and Puthuk Sukmojoyo to enjoy beautiful sunsets as well generally scenic panorama.

    Puthuk Sukmojoyo is located approximately 7,7 kilometers from Borobudur Temple, and you need 22 minutes to reach it. The entrance fee is cheap but the hike might be challenging for some. At the top of the hills, the scenery is stunning as is, but it gets even more beautiful at the end of the day.

    The other option is Puthuk Mongkrong. This hill is even higher than Sukmojoyo. It offers a view to Borobudur and Merapi Volcano. There are several selfie spots at the top.

    Pawon Luwak Coffee, an authentic premium Javanese coffee

    Processed and unprocessed raw Kopi Luwak Coffee or weasel Coffee from Java, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

    The world famous Luwak Coffee is just one of Indonesia&rsquos specialty. This coffee is unique as it&rsquos picked by a wild civet who then digest it and the excrete it.

    Pawon Luwak Coffee is a coffee house with Javanese architecture. Located near Pawon Temple, it offers not only very cheap luwak coffee, but also an experience to see how the famous coffe is made.

    They have the actual civet that consume the coffee cherries. They also show how the coffee beans are cleaned thoroughly and then processed naturally till it becomes ground coffee.

    You can of course enjoy a cup of coffee there, resting while admiring the classical architecture of the building. You can also buy the green bean and powdered coffee to take home. Pawon Luwak Coffee sells thousands of packs every year.

    Borobudur International Arts and Performance Festival

    the mask gate in Borobudur, very beautiful, and has an Indonesian culture (c) Shutterstock

    Unlike many other festivals held in Borobudur and Prambanan, this is truly has an international feeling about it. Not only Javanese of Indonesian, this festival showcases arts from countries like Hungary, USA, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Poland.

    Fireworks, lighting, mass dance, and many other art forms are presented in a spectacular way. The festival is opened with the lighting of a hundred torches while at the same time, there is a huge lighting show at the top of Borobudur.

    With a backdrop of Borobudur, the magical atmosphere of this festival is overwhelming. This festival combines classical and contemporary art in the form of dance and music from all across the globe.

    This event is also seen as a big chance to present tourist destinations from all part of Indonesia. Previously organized every four year, Borobudur International Arts and Performance Festival will be held annually starting form 2018.

    The Inspiring Vesak Day

    Lampion Waisak (c) Shutterstock

    As the biggest Buddhist Temple in the world, Borobudur also functions as shrine to Buddhists, including for their religious celebrations. The biggest holiday celebrations is definitely the Vesak Day (Waisak or Tri Suci Waisak).

    Vesak Day are observed annually, during the full moon in the month of May, an occurrence known as Purnama Sidhi. The ritual conducted to commemorate the three most important events in Buddha Siddharta Gautama&rsquos life.

    The first event is the birth of Siddharta the Prince in 623 BC in the Lumbini Gardens. Then there is the enlightenment of Prince Siddharta to become Buddha in Bodhgaya. The last event is the passing of Buddha Gautama in Kusinara. Vesak is truly Buddha&rsquos day.

    In Borobudur, Vesak day often accompanied with other events like Buddhist Conference or Borobudur the Mandala of Enlightenment and Word Peace. The festival itself is nothing sort of spectacular.

    The ritual starts from Mendhut Temple, with the pilgrims praying there. Then, the pilgrims walk to Borobudur, carrying the flame of eternal fire and holy water. Both of them then carefully placed in an altar in Borobudur.

    The pinnacle of the celebration is the release of a thousand Puja Lanterns. This symbolized the enlightenment for the entire universe.

    What to Do In Borobudur

    Morning misty color of great Borobudur Temple from Setumbu Hill (c) Shutterstock

    For a start, Borobudur is just one of the many tourist destination in its surrounding area. Yogyakarta and Prambanan Temple is nearby and easily accessible, in fact, most of the tour to Borobudur are arranged from Yogyakarta.

    Borobudur is surrounded by many &lsquosmaller&rsquo tourist attractions, natural and man-made ones. You can try so many different things than just admiring the magnificent ancient temple.

    For a start, you can visit the other two smaller temples Pawon and Mendut. These two are older and considered the older brothers of Borobudur. The three temples are forming a straight line axis, with Borobudur as the end point. You can generally walk to explore these temples, even though many agencies offer a package to visit them all.

    If you want to fully immerse yourself with Javanese culture, you can stay in a homestay in several homestay villages surrounding the temple. In Ngaran II and Candirejo, you can try living like a local villager. You live in their house, go to the rice field, farming with traditional tools, learn how to batik or how to dance, and many more other activities.

    If you like casual hiking, you can try several hills near Borobudur. Puthuk Mongkrong and Sukmojoyo offer light hiking experience and a rewarding scenery at the top. Several Instagrammable areas and spots are built to accommodate that.

    For a more extreme experience, you can even go to the infamous volcano Merapi. There are several agencies that offer jeep tour to the volcano. Several beaches in Yogyakarta are also still accessible from Borobudur. So, the potential is literally unlimited.

    Food will not be a problem, you can get pretty much whatever you like around Borobudur. The luxurious hotels provide local to international dishes. For a more authentic taste, you might want to try local foods elsewhere.

    How to Get to Borobudur

    Pawon Temple, Borobudur Temple Compounds, Java, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

    Borobudur is easily accessible from many big cities in Central Java and Yogyakarta. It is only an hour drive from the downtown Yogyakarta. A little bit more from Solo, and several more from Semarang.

    You can rent a car to reach Borobudur, or for an easier process, you can ask your hotel to arrange a trip there. Usually nearly all hotels in the nearby cities has a deal with travel agencies to arrange comprehensive tours.

    While in the temple area, you can explore on foot, or alternatively you can chart an andong (a horse-pulled cart).

    Geography and History

    Borobudur is located about 40 km (25 miles) to the northwest of Yogyakarta and some 86 km (53 miles) west of the city of Surakarta in central Java. The temple lies in an area between two volcanoes — Mt. Sundoro-Sumbing and Mt. Merbabu-Merapi — as well as two rivers — Progo and Elo. Borobudur is situated very close to two other Buddhist temples in the Kedu Plain: Pawon and Mendut. Scholars and archaeologists surmise that some sort of relationship must have existed between the temples as all three are positioned along a straight line. However, what this signifies is still a matter of scholarly debate. What is known is that the ancient and medieval Javanese, whether Hindu or Buddhist, associated the Kedu Plain with tremendous agricultural production, and it was thus considered one of the most sacred places on the island of Java. Ancient peoples regarded the two rivers as especially auspicious as they evoked the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers in what is present-day India. Not surprisingly, given the area’s favorability, the Hindu Gunung Wukir temple sanctuary, which dates to c. 732 CE, lies only 10 km (6 miles) west of Borobudur in the Kedu Plain too.

    The period in which the Javanese constructed Borobudur is shrouded in legend and mystery. No records pertaining to its construction or purpose exist, and dating the temple is based on artistic comparisons of reliefs and inscriptions found in Indonesia and elsewhere throughout Southeast Asia. Strong cultural and religious influenced arrived in what is now present-day Indonesia from the Indian subcontinent beginning around the 1st century CE. This influence grew rapidly from c. 400 CE onwards. Hindu and Buddhist merchants and traders settled in the region, intermarried with the local population, and facilitated long-distance trading relations between the indigenous Javanese and ancient India. Over the centuries, the Javanese blended the culture and religions of ancient India with their own.

    The name “Borobudur” itself is the subject of intense scholarly debate and is a lingering mystery. Some scholars contend that the name stems from the Sanskrit Vihara Buddha Uhr or the “Buddhist Monastery on a Hill,” while others, in turn, argue that Budur is nothing more than a Javanese place name. A stone tablet dating from 842 CE makes mention of Bhumisambharabhudara or the “Mountain of Virtues of Ten Stages of the Boddhisattva.” It is probable that the name “Borobudur” could be related to “Bharabhudara.”

    Modern historians have all disagreed amongst each other as to the political and cultural events that led to Borobudur’s construction as well. It is possible that the Hindu Sanjaya dynasty initially began construction of a Shivaite temple on the spot where Borobudur now sits around c. 775 CE and that they were unable to complete their temple as they were driven out of the area by the Sailendra dynasty. (It should be noted, however, that other Javanese historians see the Sailendra and Sanjaya dynasties as one and the same family and that religious patronage simply changed as a result of personal belief. The general consensus is that there were two rival dynasties supporting different faiths).

    A model of the Borobudur Buddhist temple in Java, Indonesia. The temple was built in the 8th century CE. (Vatican Museums, Rome) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons

    Archaeological and scholarly consensus places the end of Borobudur’s construction around c. 800-825 CE. King Samaratungga (r. c. 790-835 CE?) is traditionally regarded as the Javanese king who oversaw the completion of Borobudur’s construction. Buddhist kings, like Samaratungga, were the rivals of the Hindu Sanjaya dynasty for power within the Mataram kingdom in central Java. The Hindu Javanese under the Sanjaya dynasty constructed Prambanan — Indonesia’s largest Hindu temple, located some 19 km (12 miles) to the west of Borobudur — in the same century as Borobudur, and it is entirely possible that Prambanan’s construction was a political and cultural response to that of Borobudur.

    What is known is that Buddhists made pilgrimages and took part in Buddhist rituals at Borobudur during the early medieval period until the temple was abandoned at some point during the 1400s CE. The root causes for the abandonment of Borobudur are moreover debated, and the reasons why the temple was ultimately abandoned remains unknown. It is known that in the 10th or 11th century CE, the capital of the Mataram Kingdom moved eastwards away from Borobudur due to volcanic eruptions, which may have diminished Borobudur as a center of pilgrimage. Although Arab, Persian, and Gujarati traders brought Islam to what is present-day Indonesia as early as the 8th and 9th centuries CE, the acceleration of Javanese conversion to Islam began to increase rapidly only in the 15th century CE. As the Javanese population accepted Islam en masse, it makes sense that Borobudur would lessen in importance. Over the following centuries, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and rainforest growth hid Borobudur from the Javanese, rendering it inaccessible. There is evidence, nonetheless, that Borobudur never left the collective cultural consciousness of the Javanese people. Even after their conversion to Islam, later Javanese stories and myths expressed the temple’s association with mystery and negative energies.

    This relief depicts an ancient Indian ship likely to have been used by Indian adventurers sailing to Java, Indonesia. Location: Borobudur temple, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia / Photo by Michael J. Lowe, Wikimedia Commons

    In 1814, the Lieutenant Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826 CE) who oversaw the brief British occupation of the Dutch East Indes permitted the Dutch explorer Hermann Cornelius (1774-1833 CE) to organize an expedition to find and locate Borobudur, which he did successfully the same year. In the years following Borobudur’s rediscovery, the government of the Dutch East Indies commissioned and permitted archaeological studies of the temple, but looting was a major problem in the 19th and early 20th century CE. Experts recommended that Borobudur be left in tact in situ, and the first restoration efforts lasted from 1907 to 1911 CE. Today, Borobudur is once again a site of Buddhist pilgrimage and a major tourist destination in Southeast Asia, but Indonesian officials remain worried about damage caused by the foot traffic at the temple, as well as lingering environmental and security issues.

    Rediscovery & Restoration of Borobudur

    In the early 19th century Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, British governor of Java, heard of the site and took an interest in having it excavated. While this process revealed Borobudur’s treasures it also triggered a process of decay by exposing them to the elements. Villagers liberated stones for building materials, and collectors removed Buddha heads and other treasures for private and public collections around the world.

    Finally, in the 1960s a massive campaign was launched by the Indonesian government and UNESCO to save and restore the site. The massive monument’s lower terraces were dismantled and their priceless relief panels were cleaned and treated against weathering. Statues were taken out of private collections, stones were returned, and piece-by-piece Borobudur was cleaned and rebuilt. Over eight years a million stones were removed and later reassembled.

    The result is that Borobudur remains today what it was 1,200 years ago—a unique treasure to rival any site in Southeast Asia. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stunning example of Indonesian architecture, but it has also reclaimed its role as a Buddhist pilgrimage site.

    Borobudur Once a Forgotten Buried Temple

    Borobudur temple is an ancient Buddhist temple that becomes popular tourism attraction in Indonesia and in Asia. Borobudur Temple is located in Magelang, Central Java province, Indonesia. Magelang is surrounded by many active volcanoes, such as Mount Merapi, Mount Sumbing, and Mount Merbabu.

    Borobudur Temple was built in 750 AD by an architect named Gunadharma, from the Syailendra dynasty. This temple is the largest Buddhist temple monument during the Ancient Mataram Kingdom reign.

    In 1006 AD, Mount Merapi had erupted. So the Borobudur temple was allegedly buried in lava and disappeared from civilization. Since then no one knows the existence of the temple because many people around the temple also died and some were displaced.

    There are several things that led to the emergence of the number 1006 which in the inscriptions or old manuscripts is called the pralaya (a great disaster), the disaster is considered to be related to the history of the eruption of Merapi and makes it considered as a truth.

    One of them is the discovery of the Pucangan Inscription dating to 1041 AD. Believed by H. Kern in Een Oud-Javaansche steeninscriptie van Koning Er-Langga (1913), the inscription made by King Airlangga of the Kahuripan Kingdom revealed that a pralaya had occurred in the Ancient Mataram Kingdom in 928 Saka or 1006 AD.

    Another historical clue, which shows the cause of the burial of Borobudur Temple is the Calcutta inscription. In the Calcutta Inscription that reads Awama which means the sea of ​​milk says that possibility. The word Awama is then interpreted as Merapi’s lava which then allows Borobudur to be buried in cold lava.

    According to some geology researches, an earthquake accompanied the volcanic eruption and damaged the Borobudur Temple which was built in the 9th century. This tectonic activity was followed by the eruption of Mount Merapi whose eruption was expected to bury the Borobudur temple.

    After the eruption of Mount Merapi, the Ancient Mataram King at that time, Mpu Sindok, moved the capital and ordered the people to move to East Java. Since then the Borobudur temple has been abandoned. After a long time buried by volcanic ash, bushes and wild trees began to grow, until the temple resembled a small hill. At the same time, no one made a pilgrimage to Borobudur.

    The ruins of Borobudur temple when it was first discovered

    In 1811–1816 the island of Java was under British rule. Thomas Stamford Raffles who is a Governor is very interested in the history of Java. He collected ancient Javanese antique arts and wrote notes on Javanese history and culture, and he deliberately toured the island of Java searching for historical inscriptions.

    He arrived in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia in 1814, he received news about a large monument in the forest area of ​​Bumisegoro, Magelang, Central Java. Raffles was very interested but was unable to attend because he was on duty. He also sent H.C. Cornelius to investigate the monument in question.

    H.C. Cornelius finally investigated it by bringing 200 of his subordinates to cut down trees and dig the soil that covered the temple. But at that time the land was considered prone to landslides so that excavation was not optimal, then he gave a sketch of the Borobudur temple to Sir Thomas. Although Sir Thomas Raffles is considered to be very meritorious.

    In 1835 Java was controlled by the Dutch, Governor-General Hartmann continued the work of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. He was interested in researching and caring for the Borobudur Temple. Unfortunately, he did not write a note with what he did, but the temple cleansing continued. In 1842 Hartmann discovered the main stupa but its contents were empty.

    Next, a Dutch engineer named F.C. Wilsen, an expert in engineering examined the monument and drew a relief sketch of Borobudur. Until the research continued by J.F.G Brumund to examine in more detail the monument and combine the reliefs that have been drawn in F.C. Wilsen, he completed his research in 1859.

    The Borobudur temple begins to restored under the supervision of a Dutch engineer, Theodoor van Erp in 1902. The major restoration performed until the 1960s, before it’s opened to the public as a tourism attraction. This temple was included in the UNESCO list in 1991 as a Cultural Heritage Site of Indonesia.

    Another reason why big temple-like Borobudur forgotten is the socio-cultural factor. Since time has changed, Sanskrit that used to be the language of Ancient Mataram Kingdom was no longer spoken, whereas the inscription that shows the location of Borobudur is written in Sanskrit. Therefore, no one knows about the location Borobudur and there’s no comprehensive research about it before the Dutch colonial period.

    Another socio-cultural factor is religious change. The locals who lived surrounding Borobudur mostly converts to Islam or Catholics, so they are no longer visit Borobudur temple, which is a Buddhist temple to make a pilgrimage, therefore this temple becomes forgotten.

    R.W. van Bemmelen. The Geology of Indonesia (1949)

    H. Kern Een Oud-Javaansche steeninscriptie van Koning. Er-Langga (1913)

    Travelogue Yogyakarta: The Ancient Temple of Borobudur

    There are moments in life that are simply unforgettable : Looking at your newborn for the first time, achieving a high point in your career, or simply visiting a place that has been on your travel bucket list for a long time.

    For me, one of those moments was finally stepping foot into the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Built in the 9th century by the Hindu-Buddhist Sailendra dynasty, it was abandoned in the 14th century after the Javanese embraced Islam. It wasn’t until the 1800s that British explorers, on the advice of natives, rediscovered the temple and gradually reclaimed it from the jungle growth. Today, Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    **Photo Courtesy of Marriott Yogyakarta

    Borobudur has always been a place I wanted to visit ever since I was a kid, after reading about it in books. The night before, I felt like a kid again anticipating a big trip – and despite going to bed early, was unable to get any sleep.

    We departed the hotel at 2.30AM. From Yogyakarta City, the temple is some 40km away, a journey that takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

    The temple opens at 4 AM for the Sunrise Tour, and you take a 15 minute walk to the grounds in chilly weather, armed only with tiny torches. As we approached the temple, we were greeted by the sight of a gigantic, looming shape in the darkness, and a clear sky of beautiful stars. It was breathtaking, to say the least.

    The stone steps are high and uneven in places, so caution is advised. Depending on when you’re visiting, the sun might come out earlier or later. We planted ourselves to face the twin volcanoes of Mount Merbabu and Mount Merapi in the distance, and waited.

    Our guide told us it was actually a ‘quiet’ morning with a lesser number of tourists. Apparently, on busy days, there can be thousands of people in a single sunrise tour!

    When the sun finally came out, I was mind blown. It rose right in between the twin peaks, the rays forming a stunning V-shape. The colours – pink, blue, orange – contrasting against the dark silhouettes of stupas, was ethereal.

    The crowd collectively oohed and ahhed and snapped millions of pictures. I took a few, stood still, and let the powerful emotions wash over me. Its difficult to put into words – I felt truly blessed to be alive, to be in a place that has withstood the long passage of time.

    As the temple is gradually bathed in the morning light, details that were cloaked in darkness become visible : the stupas and reliefs, the statues, the intricacy of its structure.

    The most magical thing, for me, was how different the surroundings looked from different directions – standing at the Merbabu/Merapi gate, everything was a blazing gold and orange, but walk a couple of steps to the other gate and you see an amazing sea of blue and green, shrouded in mist.

    In daylight, visitors will see that the temple consists of nine stacked platforms – the bottom six of which are square, and the top three circular, topped by a big central dome. When viewed from above, it resembles a mandala, which in Buddhism and Hinduism, represents the universe.

    We were extremely lucky to get a knowledgeable local guide, who was able to explain to us, in detail, about the history and meaning behind many of the temple’s reliefs and symbols.

    **Photo Courtesy of Marriott Yogyakarta

    Perhaps the most unique thing about Borobudur is that its more like a giant storybook etched in stone, since there are no shrines or chambers like other temples.

    The temple’s bottom levels represent the ‘mortal’ realm, or ‘realm of forms’, which are decorated with thousands of reliefs depicting tales of Buddha’s life, the life of his disciples, and legends and figures from Buddhist mythology.

    Following the principles of Buddhism, the top three levels represent achieving ‘nirvana’ – moving from ‘form’ to ‘formlessness’ as we become free from suffering and the mortal cycle of birth, pain, old age, and death. Here, visitors will find 72 perforated stupas, each housing a statue of a stone Buddha within. The central dome on top represents the final state that all beings should strive for, ie Nirvana.

    The main material or building blocks of the temple are volcanic stone, extracted from the nearby volcanoes, hence the grey colour. Its close proximity to the volcanoes means that the temple is often under threat from eruptions. In fact, several years ago, Borobudur was closed for several months to facilitate a cleanup, after Mount Merapi erupted and covered the entire complex in a layer of volcanic ash.

    Old stone (left) and new stone used to restore parts of the temple that were destroyed in multiple eruptions over a thousand years. Some of the reliefs are, in fact, faded beyond repair.

    Conventionally, one will visit from the bottom levels to the top, but since we were already on the upper levels, we made our way down instead. Although one will see many Indian elements, Borobudur incorporates touches that are uniquely Javanese, blending with the local mythos and architecture.

    One of the most fascinating explanations that our guide provided was that of Kala-Makara, the monster that sits over archways (above).

    A ravenous demon lion known as ‘Kirtimukha’ in Hindu mythology, it was created by Lord Shiva and is a representation of the god himself, devouring everything in its path. Although I can’t find any research online to back this up, our guide said that it was representative of time – which, to me, was an apt description.Time devours everything and reduces even the mightiest kingdoms into rubble.

    There are thousands of reliefs within Borobudur. Some are depicted in continuous chapters – like pages of a book, you explore each as you make your way around the square platforms. Others tell a story within a single panel. One can’t help but marvel at the level of detail and the excellent craftsmanship of Borobudur’s artisans and builders. They did not have the tools and technology that we have – and yet were able to produce such amazing works of art that have withstood the test of time for over a millennia.

    Scene of Buddha as a deer in its past life.

    Similar to the gargoyles of Europe, Borobudur has water spouts shaped like mythical creatures such as monstrous lions and makara (a type of sea monster), which were used to drain water from the structure when it rains. As for Buddha statues, there are about 504 statues within the complex, although originally there might have been more.

    Clearer picture of the tiers in daylight

    Even for someone living in the 21st century, an era of skyscrapers and giant buildings, Borobudur still took my breath away – so I can only imagine how it must have felt for visitors and pilgrims in the past when they first laid eyes on this magnificent structure. The temple is still an important place for Indonesian Buddhists, and is where they have a grand Wesak Day celebration every year to commemorate the birth of Buddha.

    Entry for the sunrise tour is 450,000 IDR (RM128 – USD30). You can also opt for a day trip at a cheaper price.

    Tips: Wear proper shoes and bring a scarf! It gets quite chilly in the morning.

    The package included breakfast at Manohara Restaurant, which is where we set off for the tour earlier. The kuih-muih (cakes) and fried banana topped with cheese was awesome after all that walking!

    Hearty fried rice meal with sausages, crisps and side of salad.


    By Public Transport: From the city, take the Trans-Jogja busses 2B and 2A to Jombor Bus Terminal in northern Yogyakarta. There, board a bus that goes directly to Borobudur Bus Terminal (trip of 60 – 90 minutes). From there, walk 5 minutes to reach Borobudur Temple.

    By Minivan: Some tour operators offer packages that take you directly to Borobudur, or may stop at attractions along the way.

    The magnificent ancient Buddhist Temple of Borobudur - History

    [url=]Myth of java temple borobudur. - YouTube[/url]

    History of Borobudur temple is located in the village of Borobudur, Magelang regency, Java. This temple is the second largest Buddhist temple after Ankor Wat temple in Cambodia.
    Borobudur Temple was built around the year 800 AD or the 9th century. Borobudur was built by the followers of Mahayana Buddhism during the reign of the Sailendra dynasty. This temple was built in the Heyday dynasty dynasty. The founder of the Borobudur Temple, King Samaratungga originating from or dynasty dynasty dynasty. The possibility of this temple was built around 824 AD and was completed around the year 900 AD during the reign of Queen Pramudawardhani who is the daughter of Samaratungga. While the architects who Contributed to build this temple According to stories passed down through generations named Gunadharma.odel universe and built as a shrine to venerate Buddha also functions as a place of pilgrimage to lead mankind to switch from natural lust to According to enlightenment and wisdom The teachings of Buddha.

    Borobudur is still used as a place of religious pilgrimage Buddhists each year who come from all over Indonesia and abroad, especially Tibet, Japan, India, China, Vietnam etc. gather at Borobudur to commemorate Vesak Trisuci. In the world of tourism, tourism Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist.
    Borobudur reliefs showing many images well as human figures nobles, commoners, or hermits, various plants and animals, as well as displays of traditional vernacular building forms the archipelago. Borobudur is like like books that record various aspects of the ancient Javanese life. Many archaeologists researching past life in ancient Java and Nusantara 8th and 9th century with examining and referring carved reliefs of Borobudur. Form of stilt houses, barns, castles and temples, the form of jewelry, clothing and weaponry, a variety of plants and wildlife, as well as means of transportation, it was Noted by the Researchers. One of them is a relief depicting the famous Borobudur Ship. Typical timber ship bercadik archipelago shows ancient maritime culture. Ark replica made by reliefs of Borobudur stored in the Museum of Ocean Mercury is located to the north of Borobudur.

    [url=]Prambanan Travel Guide, Central Java, Indonesia HD - YouTube[/url]

    Prambanan temple is one of the temples located in Java, Indonesia and is one of the tourist destinations. Prambanan is often called by the name Jonggrang temple, this temple is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and also become the temple which is also the most beautiful temples in Southeast Asia is an Indonesian asset that can not be assessed costs. Prambanan temple was built in the 9th century BC devoted to the Trimurti three main Hindu gods, Brahma the creator god, the god of destruction, Shiva and Vishnu as the preserver god.

    Prambanan temple is located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta Special Region, so that some are saying that the location of the temple of Prambanan in Central Java. Prambanan temple is located about 20 kilometers from Yogyakarta which still enter the Klaten and Sleman (Yogyakarta).
    Prambanan temple is one of the temples located in Java, Indonesia and is one of the tourist destinations. Prambanan is Often called by the name Jonggrang temple, this temple is the Largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and also the temple Become the which is also the most beautiful temples in Southeast Asia is an Indonesian asset that can not be assessed costs. Prambanan temple was built in the 9th century BC dedicated to the Trimurti three Hindu gods play, Brahma the creator god, the god of destruction, Shiva and Vishnu as the preserver god.

    Prambanan temple is located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta Special Region, so that some are saying that the location of the temple of Prambanan in Central Java. Prambanan temple is located about 20 kilometers from Yogyakarta roomates still enter the Klaten and Sleman (Yogyakarta).


    In Indonesian, ancient temples are referred to as candi thus locals refer to "Borobudur Temple" as Candi Borobudur. The term candi also loosely describes ancient structures, for example gates and baths. The origins of the name Borobudur, however, are unclear, [13] although the original names of most ancient Indonesian temples are no longer known. [13] The name Borobudur was first written in Raffles's book on Javan history. [14] Raffles wrote about a monument called Borobudur, but there are no older documents suggesting the same name. [13] The only old Javanese manuscript that hints the monument called Budur as a holy Buddhist sanctuary is Nagarakretagama, written by Mpu Prapanca, a Buddhist scholar of Majapahit court, in 1365. [15]

    Most candi are named after a nearby village. If it followed Javanese language conventions and was named after the nearby village of Bore, the monument should have been named "BudurBoro". Raffles thought that Budur might correspond to the modern Javanese word Buda ("ancient")—i.e., "ancient Boro". He also suggested that the name might derive from boro, meaning "great" or "honourable" and Budur for Buddha. [13] However, another archaeologist suggests the second component of the name (Budur) comes from Javanese term bhudhara ("mountain"). [16]

    Another possible etymology by Dutch archaeologist A.J. Bernet Kempers suggests that Borobudur is a corrupted simplified local Javanese pronunciation of Biara Beduhur written in Sanskrit as Vihara Buddha Uhr. The term Buddha-Uhr could mean "the city of Buddhas", while another possible term Beduhur is probably an Old Javanese term, still survived today in Balinese vocabulary, which means "a high place", constructed from the stem word dhuhur or luhur (high). This suggests that Borobudur means vihara of Buddha located on a high place or on a hill. [17]

    The construction and inauguration of a sacred Buddhist building—possibly a reference to Borobudur—was mentioned in two inscriptions, both discovered in Kedu, Temanggung Regency. The Karangtengah inscription, dated 824, mentioned a sacred building named Jinalaya (the realm of those who have conquered worldly desire and reached enlightenment), inaugurated by Pramodhawardhani, daughter of Samaratungga. The Tri Tepusan inscription, dated 842, is mentioned in the sima, the (tax-free) lands awarded by Çrī Kahulunnan (Pramodhawardhani) to ensure the funding and maintenance of a Kamūlān called Bhūmisambhāra. [18] Kamūlān is from the word mula, which means "the place of origin", a sacred building to honor the ancestors, probably those of the Sailendras. Casparis suggested that Bhūmi Sambhāra Bhudhāra, which in Sanskrit means "the mountain of combined virtues of the ten stages of Boddhisattvahood", was the original name of Borobudur. [19]

    The three temples Edit

    Approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Yogyakarta and 86 kilometres (53 mi) west of Surakarta, Borobudur is located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes, Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi, and two rivers, the Progo and the Elo. [20] According to local myth, the area known as Kedu Plain is a Javanese "sacred" place and has been dubbed "the garden of Java" due to its high agricultural fertility. [21]

    During the restoration in the early 20th century, it was discovered that three Buddhist temples in the region, Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut, are positioned along a straight line. [22] A ritual relationship between the three temples must have existed, although the exact ritual process is unknown. [15]

    Ancient lake hypothesis Edit

    Speculation about a surrounding lake's existence was the subject of intense discussion among archaeologists in the 20th century. In 1931, a Dutch artist and scholar of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, developed a hypothesis that the Kedu Plain was once a lake and Borobudur initially represented a lotus flower floating on the lake. [16] It has been claimed that Borobudur was built on a bedrock hill, 265 m (869 ft) above sea level and 15 m (49 ft) above the floor of a dried-out paleolake. [23]

    Dumarçay together with Professor Thanikaimoni took soil samples in 1974 and again in 1977 from trial trenches that had been dug into the hill, as well as from the plain immediately to the south. These samples were later analysed by Thanikaimoni, who examined their pollen and spore content to identify the type of vegetation that had grown in the area around the time of Borobudur's construction. They were unable to discover any pollen or spore samples that were characteristic of any vegetation known to grow in an aquatic environment such as a lake, pond or marsh. The area surrounding Borobudur appears to have been surrounded by agricultural land and palm trees at the time of the monument's construction, as is still the case today. Caesar Voûte and the geomorphologist Dr J.J. Nossin in 1985–86 field studies re-examined the Borobudur lake hypothesis and confirmed the absence of a lake around Borobudur at the time of its construction and active use as a sanctuary. These findings A New Perspective on Some Old Questions Pertaining to Borobudur were published in the 2005 UNESCO publication titled "The Restoration of Borobudur".

    Construction Edit

    There are no known records of construction or the intended purpose of Borobudur. [24] The duration of construction has been estimated by comparison of carved reliefs on the temple's hidden foot and the inscriptions commonly used in royal charters during the 8th and 9th centuries. Borobudur was likely founded around 800 AD. [24] This corresponds to the period between 760 and 830 AD, the peak of the Sailendra dynasty rule over Mataram kingdom in central Java, [25] when their power encompassed not only the Srivijayan Empire but also southern Thailand, Indianized kingdoms of Philippines, North Malaya (Kedah, also known in Indian texts as the ancient Hindu state of Kadaram). [26] [27] [28] The construction has been estimated to have taken 75 years with completion during the reign of Samaratungga in 825. [29] [30]

    There is uncertainty about Hindu and Buddhist rulers in Java around that time. The Sailendras were known as ardent followers of Buddhism, though stone inscriptions found at Sojomerto also suggest they may have been Hindus. [29] It was during this time that many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were built on the plains and mountains around the Kedu Plain. The Buddhist monuments, including Borobudur, were erected around the same period as the Hindu Shiva Prambanan temple compound. In 732 AD, the Shivaite King Sanjaya commissioned a Shivalinga sanctuary to be built on the Wukir hill, only 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Borobudur. [31]

    Construction of Buddhist temples, including Borobudur, at that time was possible because Sanjaya's immediate successor, Rakai Panangkaran, granted his permission to the Buddhist followers to build such temples. [32] In fact, to show his respect, Panangkaran gave the village of Kalasan to the Buddhist community, as is written in the Kalasan Charter dated 778 AD. [32] This has led some archaeologists to believe that there was never serious conflict concerning religion in Java as it was possible for a Hindu king to patronize the establishment of a Buddhist monument or for a Buddhist king to act likewise. [33] However, it is likely that there were two rival royal dynasties in Java at the time—the Buddhist Sailendra and the Saivite Sanjaya—in which the latter triumphed over their rival in the 856 battle on the Ratubaka plateau. [34] Similar confusion also exists regarding the Lara Jonggrang temple at the Prambanan complex, which was believed to have been erected by the victor Rakai Pikatan as the Sanjaya dynasty's reply to Borobudur, [34] but others suggest that there was a climate of peaceful coexistence where Sailendra involvement exists in Lara Jonggrang. [35]

    Abandonment Edit

    Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. The facts behind its abandonment remain a mystery. It is not known when active use of the monument and Buddhist pilgrimage to it ceased. Sometime between 928 and 1006, King Mpu Sindok moved the capital of the Medang Kingdom to the region of East Java after a series of volcanic eruptions it is not certain whether this influenced the abandonment, but several sources mention this as the most likely period of abandonment. [8] [23] The monument is mentioned vaguely as late as c. 1365, in Mpu Prapanca's Nagarakretagama, written during the Majapahit era and mentioning "the vihara in Budur". [36] Soekmono (1976) also mentions the popular belief that the temples were disbanded when the population converted to Islam in the 15th century. [8]

    The monument was not forgotten completely, though folk stories gradually shifted from its past glory into more superstitious beliefs associated with bad luck and misery. Two old Javanese chronicles (babad) from the 18th century mention cases of bad luck associated with the monument. According to the Babad Tanah Jawi (or the History of Java), the monument was a fatal factor for Mas Dana, a rebel who revolted against Pakubuwono I, the king of Mataram in 1709. [8] It was mentioned that the "Redi Borobudur" hill was besieged and the insurgents were defeated and sentenced to death by the king. In the Babad Mataram (or the History of the Mataram Kingdom), the monument was associated with the misfortune of the crown prince of the Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1757. [37] In spite of a taboo against visiting the monument, "he took such pity on 'the knight who was captured in a cage’ (i.e. the statue in one of the perforated stupas) that he could not help coming to see his‘unfortunate friend’". Upon returning to his palace, he fell ill and died one day later.

    Rediscovery Edit

    Following its capture, Java was under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The appointed governor was Lieutenant Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles, who took great interest in the history of Java. He collected Javanese antiques and made notes through contacts with local inhabitants during his tour throughout the island. On an inspection tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a big monument deep in a jungle near the village of Bumisegoro. [37] He was not able to see the site himself, but sent Hermann Cornelius [nl] , a Dutch engineer who, among other antiquity explorations had uncovered the Sewu complex in 1806–07, to investigate. In two months, Cornelius and his 200 men cut down trees, burned down vegetation and dug away the earth to reveal the monument. Due to the danger of collapse, he could not unearth all galleries. He reported his findings to Raffles, including various drawings. Although Raffles mentioned the discovery and hard work by Cornelius and his men in only a few sentences, he has been credited with the monument's rediscovery, as the one who had brought it to the world's attention. [14]

    Christiaan Lodewijk Hartmann, the Resident of the Kedu region, continued Cornelius's work, and in 1835, the whole complex was finally unearthed. His interest in Borobudur was more personal than official. Hartmann did not write any reports of his activities, in particular, the alleged story that he discovered the large statue of Buddha in the main stupa. [38] In 1842, Hartmann investigated the main dome, although what he discovered is unknown and the main stupa remains empty.

    The Dutch East Indies government then commissioned Frans Carel Wilsen, a Dutch engineering official, who studied the monument and drew hundreds of relief sketches. Jan Frederik Gerrit Brumund was also appointed to make a detailed study of the monument, which was completed in 1859. The government intended to publish an article based on Brumund's study supplemented by Wilsen's drawings, but Brumund refused to cooperate. The government then commissioned another scholar, Conradus Leemans, who compiled a monograph based on Brumund's and Wilsen's sources. In 1873, the first monograph of the detailed study of Borobudur was published, followed by its French translation a year later. [38] The first photograph of the monument was taken in 1872 by the Dutch-Flemish engraver Isidore van Kinsbergen. [39]

    Appreciation of the site developed slowly, and it served for some time largely as a source of souvenirs and income for "souvenir hunters" and thieves. In 1882, the chief inspector of cultural artifacts recommended that Borobudur be entirely disassembled with the relocation of reliefs into museums due to the unstable condition of the monument. [39] As a result, the government appointed Willem Pieter Groeneveldt, curator of the archaeological collection of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, [40] to undertake a thorough investigation of the site and to assess the actual condition of the complex his report found that these fears were unjustified and recommended it be left intact.

    Borobudur was considered as the source of souvenirs, and parts of its sculptures were looted, some even with colonial-government consent. In 1896 King Chulalongkorn of Siam visited Java and requested and was allowed to take home eight cartloads of sculptures taken from Borobudur. These include thirty pieces taken from a number of relief panels, five buddha images, two lions, one gargoyle, several kala motifs from the stairs and gateways, and a guardian statue (dvarapala). Several of these artifacts, most notably the lions, dvarapala, kala, makara and giant waterspouts are now on display in the Java Art room in The National Museum in Bangkok. [41]

    Restoration Edit

    Borobudur attracted attention in 1885, when the Dutch engineer Jan Willem IJzerman [id nl] , Chairman of the Archaeological Society in Yogyakarta, made a discovery about the hidden foot. [42] Photographs that reveal reliefs on the hidden foot were made in 1890–1891. [43] The discovery led the Dutch East Indies government to take steps to safeguard the monument. In 1900, the government set up a commission consisting of three officials to assess the monument: Jan Lourens Andries Brandes, an art historian, Theodoor van Erp [nl] , a Dutch army engineer officer, and Benjamin Willem van de Kamer, a construction engineer from the Department of Public Works.

    In 1902, the commission submitted a threefold plan of proposal to the government. First, the immediate dangers should be avoided by resetting the corners, removing stones that endangered the adjacent parts, strengthening the first balustrades and restoring several niches, archways, stupas and the main dome. Second, after fencing off the courtyards, proper maintenance should be provided and drainage should be improved by restoring floors and spouts. Third, all loose stones should be removed, the monument cleared up to the first balustrades, disfigured stones removed and the main dome restored. The total cost was estimated at that time around 48,800 Dutch guilders.

    The restoration then was carried out between 1907 and 1911, using the principles of anastylosis and led by Theodor van Erp. [44] The first seven months of restoration were occupied with excavating the grounds around the monument to find missing Buddha heads and panel stones. Van Erp dismantled and rebuilt the upper three circular platforms and stupas. Along the way, Van Erp discovered more things he could do to improve the monument he submitted another proposal, which was approved with the additional cost of 34,600 guilders. At first glance, Borobudur had been restored to its old glory. Van Erp went further by carefully reconstructing the chattra (three-tiered parasol) pinnacle on top of the main stupa. However, he later dismantled the chattra, citing that there were not enough original stones used in reconstructing the pinnacle, which means that the original design of Borobudur's pinnacle is actually unknown. The dismantled chattra now is stored in Karmawibhangga Museum, a few hundred meters north from Borobudur.

    Due to the limited budget, the restoration had been primarily focused on cleaning the sculptures, and Van Erp did not solve the drainage problem. Within fifteen years, the gallery walls were sagging, and the reliefs showed signs of new cracks and deterioration. [44] Van Erp used concrete from which alkali salts and calcium hydroxide leached and were transported into the rest of the construction. This caused some problems, so that a further thorough renovation was urgently needed.

    Small restorations had been performed since then, but not sufficient for complete protection. During World War II and Indonesian National Revolution in 1945 to 1949, Borobudur restoration efforts were halted. The monument suffered further from the weather and drainage problems, which caused the earth core inside the temple to expand, pushing the stone structure and tilting the walls. By 1950s some parts of Borobudur were facing imminent danger of collapsing. In 1965, Indonesia asked the UNESCO for advice on ways to counteract the problem of weathering at Borobudur and other monuments. In 1968 Professor Soekmono, then head of the Archeological Service of Indonesia, launched his "Save Borobudur" campaign, in an effort to organize a massive restoration project. [45]

    In the late 1960s, the Indonesian government had requested from the international community a major renovation to protect the monument. In 1973, a master plan to restore Borobudur was created. [46] Through an Agreement concerning the Voluntary Contributions to be Given for the Execution of the Project to Preserve Borobudur (Paris, 29 January 1973), 5 countries agreed to contribute to the restoration: Australia (AUD $200,000), Belgium (BEF fr.250,000), Cyprus (CYP £100,000), France (USD $77,500) and Germany (DEM DM 2,000,000). [47] The Indonesian government and UNESCO then undertook the complete overhaul of the monument in a big restoration project between 1975 and 1982. [44] In 1975, the actual work began. Over one million stones were dismantled and removed during the restoration, and set aside like pieces of a massive jig-saw puzzle to be individually identified, catalogued, cleaned and treated for preservation. Borobudur became a testing ground for new conservation techniques, including new procedures to battle the microorganisms attacking the stone. [45] The foundation was stabilized, and all 1,460 panels were cleaned. The restoration involved the dismantling of the five square platforms and the improvement of drainage by embedding water channels into the monument. Both impermeable and filter layers were added. This colossal project involved around 600 people to restore the monument and cost a total of US$6,901,243. [48]

    After the renovation was finished, UNESCO listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991. [3] It is listed under Cultural criteria (i) "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius", (ii) "to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design", and (vi) "to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance". [3]

    In December 2017, the idea to reinstall chattra on top of Borobudur main stupa's yasthi has been revisited. However, expert said a thorough study is needed on restoring the umbrella-shaped pinnacle. By early 2018, the chattra restoration has not yet commenced. [49]

    Contemporary events Edit

    Religious ceremony Edit

    Following the major 1973 renovation funded by UNESCO, [46] Borobudur is once again used as a place of worship and pilgrimage. Once a year, during the full moon in May or June, Buddhists in Indonesia observe Vesak (Indonesian: Waisak) day commemorating the birth, death, and the time when Siddhārtha Gautama attained the highest wisdom to become the Buddha Shakyamuni. Vesak is an official national holiday in Indonesia, [50] and the ceremony is centered at the three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur. [51]

    Tourism Edit

    The monument is the single most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia. In 1974, 260,000 tourists, of whom 36,000 were foreigners, visited the monument. [11] The figure climbed to 2.5 million visitors annually (80% were domestic tourists) in the mid-1990s, before the country's economic crisis. [12] Tourism development, however, has been criticized for not including the local community, giving rise to occasional conflicts. [11] In 2003, residents and small businesses around Borobudur organized several meetings and poetry protests, objecting to a provincial government plan to build a three-storey mall complex, dubbed the "Java World". [52]

    International tourism awards were given to Borobudur archaeological park, such as PATA Grand Pacific Award 2004, PATA Gold Award Winner 2011, and PATA Gold Award Winner 2012. In June 2012, Borobudur was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest Buddhist archaeological site. [53]

    Conservation Edit

    UNESCO identified three specific areas of concern under the present state of conservation: (i) vandalism by visitors (ii) soil erosion in the south-eastern part of the site and (iii) analysis and restoration of missing elements. [54] The soft soil, the numerous earthquakes and heavy rains lead to the destabilization of the structure. Earthquakes are by far the most important contributing factors, since not only do stones fall down and arches crumble, but the earth itself can move in waves, further destroying the structure. [54] The increasing popularity of the stupa brings in many visitors, most of whom are from Indonesia. Despite warning signs on all levels not to touch anything, the regular transmission of warnings over loudspeakers and the presence of guards, vandalism on reliefs and statues is a common occurrence and problem, leading to further deterioration. As of 2009, there is no system in place to limit the number of visitors allowed per day or to introduce mandatory guided tours only. [54]

    In August 2014, the Conservation Authority of Borobudur reported some severe abrasion of the stone stairs caused by the scraping of visitors' footwear. The conservation authority planned to install wooden stairs to cover and protect the original stone stairs, just like those installed in Angkor Wat. [55]

    Rehabilitation Edit

    Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 kilometres (17 mi) west-southwest of the crater. A layer of ash up to 2.5 centimetres (1 in) [56] thick fell on the temple statues during the eruption of 3–5 November, also killing nearby vegetation, with experts fearing that the acidic ash might damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5 to 9 November to clean up the ashfall. [57] [58]

    UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of the costs towards the rehabilitation of Borobudur after Mount Merapi's 2010 eruption. [59] More than 55,000 stone blocks comprising the temple's structure were dismantled to restore the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after the rain. The restoration was finished in November. [60]

    In January 2012, two German stone-conservation experts spent ten days at the site analyzing the temples and making recommendations to ensure their long-term preservation. [61] In June, Germany agreed to contribute $130,000 to UNESCO for the second phase of rehabilitation, in which six experts in stone conservation, microbiology, structural engineering and chemical engineering would spend a week in Borobudur in June, then return for another visit in September or October. These missions would launch the preservation activities recommended in the January report and would include capacity building activities to enhance the preservation capabilities of governmental staff and young conservation experts. [62]

    On 14 February 2014, major tourist attractions in Yogyakarta and Central Java, including Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko, were closed to visitors, after being severely affected by the volcanic ash from the eruption of Kelud volcano in East Java, located around 200 kilometers east from Yogyakarta. Workers covered the iconic stupas and statues of Borobudur temple to protect the structure from volcanic ash. The Kelud volcano erupted on 13 February 2014 with an explosion heard as far away as Yogyakarta. [63]

    Security threats Edit

    On 21 January 1985, nine stupas were badly damaged by nine bombs. [64] [65] In 1991, a blind Muslim preacher, Husein Ali Al Habsyie, was sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding a series of bombings in the mid-1980s, including the temple attack. [66] Two other members of the Islamic extremist group that carried out the bombings were each sentenced to 20 years in 1986, and another man received a 13-year prison term.

    On 27 May 2006, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude struck the south coast of Central Java. The event caused severe damage around the region and casualties to the nearby city of Yogyakarta, but Borobudur remained intact. [67]

    In August 2014, Indonesian police and security forces tightened the security in and around Borobudur temple compound, as a precaution to a threat posted on social media by a self-proclaimed Indonesian branch of ISIS, citing that the terrorists planned to destroy Borobudur and other statues in Indonesia. [68] The security improvements included the repair and increased deployment of CCTV monitors and the implementation of a night patrol in and around the temple compound. The jihadist group follows a strict interpretation of Islam that condemns any anthropomorphic representations such as sculptures as idolatry.

    Visitor overload problem Edit

    The high volume of visitors ascending the Borobudur's narrow stairs, has caused a severe wear out on the stone of the stairs, eroding the stones surface and made them thinner and smoother. Overall, Borobudur has 2,033 surfaces of stone stairs, spread over four cardinal directions including the west side, the east, south and north. There are around 1,028 surfaces of them, or about 49.15 percent, that are severely worn out. [69]

    To avoid further wear of stairs' stones, since November 2014, two main sections of Borobudur stairs – the eastern (ascending route) and northern (descending route) sides – are covered with wooden structures. The similar technique has been applied in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Egyptian Pyramids. [69] In March 2015, Borobudur Conservation Center proposed further to seal the stairs with rubber cover. [70] Proposals have also been made that visitors be issued special sandals. [71]

    The archaeological excavation into Borobudur during reconstruction suggests that adherents of Hinduism or a pre-Indic faith had already begun to erect a large structure on Borobudur's hill before the site was appropriated by Buddhists. The foundations are unlike any Hindu or Buddhist shrine structures, and therefore, the initial structure is considered more indigenous Javanese than Hindu or Buddhist. [72]

    Design Edit

    Borobudur is built as a single large stupa and, when viewed from above, takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind. [73] The original foundation is a square, approximately 118 metres (387 ft) on each side. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square and the upper three are circular. [74] The upper platform contains seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.

    The design of Borobudur took the form of a step pyramid. Previously, the prehistoric Austronesian megalithic culture in Indonesia had constructed several earth mounds and stone step pyramid structures called punden berundak as discovered in Pangguyangan site near Cisolok [75] and in Cipari near Kuningan. [76] The construction of stone pyramids is based on native beliefs that mountains and high places are the abode of ancestral spirits or hyangs. [77] The punden berundak step pyramid is the basic design in Borobudur, [78] believed to be the continuation of older megalithic tradition incorporated with Mahayana Buddhist ideas and symbolism. [79]

    The monument's three divisions symbolize the three "realms" of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and finally Arupadhatu (the formless world). Ordinary sentient beings live out their lives on the lowest level, the realm of desire. Those who have burnt out all desire for continued existence leave the world of desire and live in the world on the level of form alone: they see forms but are not drawn to them. Finally, full Buddhas go beyond even form and experience reality at its purest, most fundamental level, the formless ocean of nirvana. [80] The liberation from the cycle of Saṃsāra where the enlightened soul had no longer attached to worldly form corresponds to the concept of Śūnyatā, the complete voidness or the nonexistence of the self. Kāmadhātu is represented by the base, Rupadhatu by the five square platforms (the body), and Arupadhatu by the three circular platforms and the large topmost stupa. The architectural features between the three stages have metaphorical differences. For instance, square and detailed decorations in the Rupadhatu disappear into plain circular platforms in the Arupadhatu to represent how the world of forms—where men are still attached with forms and names—changes into the world of the formless. [81]

    Congregational worship in Borobudur is performed in a walking pilgrimage. Pilgrims are guided by the system of staircases and corridors ascending to the top platform. Each platform represents one stage of enlightenment. The path that guides pilgrims was designed to symbolize Buddhist cosmology. [82]

    In 1885, a hidden structure under the base was accidentally discovered. [42] The "hidden footing" contains reliefs, 160 of which are narratives describing the real Kāmadhātu. The remaining reliefs are panels with short inscriptions that apparently provide instructions for the sculptors, illustrating the scenes to be carved. [83] The real base is hidden by an encasement base, the purpose of which remains a mystery. It was first thought that the real base had to be covered to prevent a disastrous subsidence of the monument into the hill. [83] There is another theory that the encasement base was added because the original hidden footing was incorrectly designed, according to Vastu Shastra, the Indian ancient book about architecture and town planning. [42] Regardless of why it was commissioned, the encasement base was built with detailed and meticulous design and with aesthetic and religious consideration.

    Building structure Edit

    Approximately 55,000 cubic metres (72,000 cu yd) of andesite stones were taken from neighbouring stone quarries to build the monument. [84] The stone was cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar. Knobs, indentations and dovetails were used to form joints between stones. The roof of stupas, niches and arched gateways were constructed in corbelling method. Reliefs were created in situ after the building had been completed.

    The monument is equipped with a good drainage system to cater to the area's high stormwater run-off. To prevent flooding, 100 spouts are installed at each corner, each with a unique carved gargoyle in the shape of a giant or makara.

    Borobudur differs markedly from the general design of other structures built for this purpose. Instead of being built on a flat surface, Borobudur is built on a natural hill. However, construction technique is similar to other temples in Java. Without the inner spaces seen in other temples, and with a general design similar to the shape of pyramid, Borobudur was first thought more likely to have served as a stupa, instead of a temple. [84] A stupa is intended as a shrine for the Buddha. Sometimes stupas were built only as devotional symbols of Buddhism. A temple, on the other hand, is used as a house of worship. The meticulous complexity of the monument's design suggests that Borobudur is in fact a temple.

    Little is known about Gunadharma, the architect of the complex. [85] His name is recounted from Javanese folk tales rather than from written inscriptions.

    The basic unit of measurement used during construction was the tala, defined as the length of a human face from the forehead's hairline to the tip of the chin or the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger when both fingers are stretched at their maximum distance. [86] The unit is thus relative from one individual to the next, but the monument has exact measurements. A survey conducted in 1977 revealed frequent findings of a ratio of 4:6:9 around the monument. The architect had used the formula to lay out the precise dimensions of the fractal and self-similar geometry in Borobudur's design. [86] [87] This ratio is also found in the designs of Pawon and Mendut, nearby Buddhist temples. Archeologists have conjectured that the 4:6:9 ratio and the tala have calendrical, astronomical and cosmological significance, as is the case with the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. [85]

    The main structure can be divided into three components: base, body, and top. [85] The base is 123 m × 123 m (404 ft × 404 ft) in size with 4 metres (13 ft) walls. [84] The body is composed of five square platforms, each of diminishing height. The first terrace is set back 7 metres (23 ft) from the edge of the base. Each subsequent terrace is set back 2 metres (6.6 ft), leaving a narrow corridor at each stage. The top consists of three circular platforms, with each stage supporting a row of perforated stupas, arranged in concentric circles. There is one main dome at the center, the top of which is the highest point of the monument, 35 metres (115 ft) above ground level. Stairways at the center of each of the four sides give access to the top, with a number of arched gates overlooked by 32 lion statues. The gates are adorned with Kala's head carved on top of each and Makaras projecting from each side. This Kala-Makara motif is commonly found on the gates of Javanese temples. The main entrance is on the eastern side, the location of the first narrative reliefs. Stairways on the slopes of the hill also link the monument to the low-lying plain.

    Borobudur is constructed in such a way that it reveals various levels of terraces, showing intricate architecture that goes from being heavily ornamented with bas-reliefs to being plain in Arupadhatu circular terraces. [88] The first four terrace walls are showcases for bas-relief sculptures. These are exquisite, considered to be the most elegant and graceful in the ancient Buddhist world. [89]

    The bas-reliefs in Borobudur depicted many scenes of daily life in 8th-century ancient Java, from the courtly palace life, hermit in the forest, to those of commoners in the village. It also depicted temple, marketplace, various flora and fauna, and also native vernacular architecture. People depicted here are the images of king, queen, princes, noblemen, courtier, soldier, servant, commoners, priest and hermit. The reliefs also depicted mythical spiritual beings in Buddhist beliefs such as asuras, gods, bodhisattvas, kinnaras, gandharvas and apsaras. The images depicted on bas-relief often served as reference for historians to research for certain subjects, such as the study of architecture, weaponry, economy, fashion, and also mode of transportation of 8th-century Maritime Southeast Asia. One of the famous renderings of an 8th-century Southeast Asian double outrigger ship is Borobudur Ship. [90] Today, the actual-size replica of Borobudur Ship that had sailed from Indonesia to Africa in 2004 is displayed in the Samudra Raksa Museum, located a few hundred meters north of Borobudur. [91]

    The Borobudur reliefs also pay close attention to Indian aesthetic discipline, such as pose and gesture that contain certain meanings and aesthetic value. The reliefs of noblemen, noble women, kings, or divine beings such as apsaras, taras and boddhisattvas are usually portrayed in tribhanga pose, the three-bend pose on neck, hips, and knee, with one leg resting and one upholding the body weight. This position is considered as the most graceful pose, such as the figure of Surasundari holding a lotus. [92]

    During Borobudur excavation, archeologists discovered colour pigments of blue, red, green, black, as well as bits of gold foil, and concluded that the monument that we see today – a dark gray mass of volcanic stone, lacking in colour – was probably once coated with varjalepa white plaster and then painted with bright colors, serving perhaps as a beacon of Buddhist teaching. [93] The same vajralepa plaster can also be found in Sari, Kalasan and Sewu temples. It is likely that the bas-reliefs of Borobudur was originally quite colourful, before centuries of torrential tropical rainfalls peeled-off the colour pigments.

    Narrative panels distribution [94]
    Section Location Story No. of panels
    hidden foot wall Karmavibhangga 160
    first gallery main wall Lalitavistara 120
    Jataka/Avadana 120
    balustrade Jataka/Avadana 372
    Jataka/Avadana 128
    second gallery balustrade Jataka/Avadana 100
    main wall Gandavyuha 128
    third gallery main wall Gandavyuha 88
    balustrade Gandavyuha 88
    fourth gallery main wall Gandavyuha 84
    balustrade Gandavyuha 72
    Total 1,460

    Borobudur contains approximately 2,670 individual bas reliefs (1,460 narrative and 1,212 decorative panels), which cover the façades and balustrades. The total relief surface is 2,500 square metres (27,000 sq ft), and they are distributed at the hidden foot (Kāmadhātu) and the five square platforms (Rupadhatu). [94]

    The narrative panels, which tell the story of Sudhana and Manohara, [95] are grouped into 11 series that encircle the monument with a total length of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The hidden foot contains the first series with 160 narrative panels, and the remaining 10 series are distributed throughout walls and balustrades in four galleries starting from the eastern entrance stairway to the left. Narrative panels on the wall read from right to left, while those on the balustrade read from left to right. This conforms with pradaksina, the ritual of circumambulation performed by pilgrims who move in a clockwise direction while keeping the sanctuary to their right. [96]

    The hidden foot depicts the workings of karmic law. The walls of the first gallery have two superimposed series of reliefs each consists of 120 panels. The upper part depicts the biography of the Buddha, while the lower part of the wall and also the balustrades in the first and the second galleries tell the story of the Buddha's former lives. [94] The remaining panels are devoted to Sudhana's further wandering about his search, terminated by his attainment of the Perfect Wisdom.

    The law of karma (Karmavibhangga) Edit

    The 160 hidden panels do not form a continuous story, but each panel provides one complete illustration of cause and effect. [94] There are depictions of blameworthy activities, from gossip to murder, with their corresponding punishments. There are also praiseworthy activities, that include charity and pilgrimage to sanctuaries, and their subsequent rewards. The pains of hell and the pleasure of heaven are also illustrated. There are scenes of daily life, complete with the full panorama of samsara (the endless cycle of birth and death). The encasement base of the Borobudur temple was disassembled to reveal the hidden foot, and the reliefs were photographed by Casijan Chepas in 1890. It is these photographs that are displayed in Borobudur Museum (Karmawibhangga Museum), located just several hundred meters north of the temple. During the restoration, the foot encasement was reinstalled, covering the Karmawibhangga reliefs. Today, only the southeast corner of the hidden foot is revealed and visible for visitors.

    The story of Prince Siddhartha and the birth of Buddha (Lalitavistara) Edit

    The story starts with the descent of the Buddha from the Tushita heaven and ends with his first sermon in the Deer Park near Benares. [96] The relief shows the birth of the Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Kapilavastu (in Nepal).

    The story is preceded by 27 panels showing various preparations, in the heavens and on the earth, to welcome the final incarnation of the Bodhisattva. [96] Before descending from Tushita heaven, the Bodhisattva entrusted his crown to his successor, the future Buddha Maitreya. He descended on earth in the shape of white elephants with six tusks, penetrated to Queen Maya's right womb. Queen Maya had a dream of this event, which was interpreted that his son would become either a sovereign or a Buddha.

    While Queen Maya felt that it was the time to give birth, she went to the Lumbini park outside the Kapilavastu city. She stood under a plaksa tree, holding one branch with her right hand, and she gave birth to a son, Prince Siddhartha. The story on the panels continues until the prince becomes the Buddha.

    The stories of Buddha's previous life (Jataka) and other legendary people (Avadana) Edit

    Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha. [97] They are the stories that tell about the previous lives of the Buddha, in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear in them as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates. [98] Avadanas are similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not the Bodhisattva himself. The saintly deeds in avadanas are attributed to other legendary persons. Jatakas and avadanas are treated in one and the same series in the reliefs of Borobudur.

    The first twenty lower panels in the first gallery on the wall depict the Sudhanakumaravadana, or the saintly deeds of Sudhana. The first 135 upper panels in the same gallery on the balustrades are devoted to the 34 legends of the Jatakamala. [99] The remaining 237 panels depict stories from other sources, as do the lower series and panels in the second gallery. Some jatakas are depicted twice, for example the story of King Sibhi (Rama's forefather).

    Sudhana's search for the ultimate truth (Gandavyuha) Edit

    Gandavyuha is the story told in the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra about Sudhana's tireless wandering in search of the Highest Perfect Wisdom. It covers two galleries (third and fourth) and also half of the second gallery, comprising in total of 460 panels. [100] The principal figure of the story, the youth Sudhana, son of an extremely rich merchant, appears on the 16th panel. The preceding 15 panels form a prologue to the story of the miracles during Buddha's samadhi in the Garden of Jeta at Sravasti.

    Sudhana was instructed by Manjusri to meet the monk Megasri, his first spiritual friend. As his journey continues, Sudhana meets 53 teachers, such as Supratisthita, the physician Megha (Spirit of Knowledge), the banker Muktaka, the monk Saradhvaja, the upasika Asa (Spirit of Supreme Enlightenment), Bhismottaranirghosa, the Brahmin Jayosmayatna, Princess Maitrayani, the monk Sudarsana, a boy called Indriyesvara, the upasika Prabhuta, the banker Ratnachuda, King Anala, the god Siva Mahadeva, Queen Maya, Bodhisattva Maitreya and then back to Manjusri. Each spiritual friend gives Sudhana specific teachings, knowledge, and wisdom. These meetings are shown in the third gallery.

    After a second meeting with Manjusri, Sudhana went to the residence of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, depicted in the fourth gallery. The entire series of the fourth gallery is devoted to the teaching of Samantabhadra. The narrative panels finally end with Sudhana's achievement of the Supreme Knowledge and the Ultimate Truth. [101]

    Apart from the story of the Buddhist cosmology carved in stone, Borobudur has many statues of various Buddhas. The cross-legged statues are seated in a lotus position and distributed on the five square platforms (the Rupadhatu level), as well as on the top platform (the Arupadhatu level).

    The Buddha statues are in niches at the Rupadhatu level, arranged in rows on the outer sides of the balustrades, the number of statues decreasing as platforms progressively diminish to the upper level. The first balustrades have 104 niches, the second 104, the third 88, the fourth 72 and the fifth 64. In total, there are 432 Buddha statues at the Rupadhatu level. [4] At the Arupadhatu level (or the three circular platforms), Buddha statues are placed inside perforated stupas. The first circular platform has 32 stupas, the second 24 and the third 16, which adds up to 72 stupas. [4] Of the original 504 Buddha statues, over 300 are damaged (mostly headless), and 43 are missing. Since the monument's discovery, heads have been acquired as collector's items, mostly by Western museums. [102] Some of these Buddha heads are now displayed in numbers of museums, such as the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Musée Guimet in Paris, and The British Museum in London. [103] Germany has in 2014 returned its collection and funded their reattachment and further conservation of the site. [104]

    At first glance, all the Buddha statues appear similar, but there is a subtle difference between them in the mudras, or the position of the hands. There are five groups of mudra: North, East, South, West and Zenith, which represent the five cardinal compass points according to Mahayana. The first four balustrades have the first four mudras: North, East, South and West, of which the Buddha statues that face one compass direction have the corresponding mudra. Buddha statues at the fifth balustrades and inside the 72 stupas on the top platform have the same mudra: Zenith. Each mudra represents one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas each has its own symbolism. [105]

    Following the order of Pradakshina (clockwise circumumbulation) starting from the East, the mudras of the Borobudur buddha statues are:

    Statue Mudra Symbolic meaning Dhyani Buddha Cardinal Point Location of the Statue
    Bhumisparsa mudra Calling the Earth to witness Aksobhya East Rupadhatu niches on the first four eastern balustrades
    Vara mudra Benevolence, alms giving Ratnasambhava South Rupadhatu niches on the first four southern balustrades
    Dhyana mudra Concentration and meditation Amitabha West Rupadhatu niches on the first four western balustrades
    Abhaya mudra Courage, fearlessness Amoghasiddhi North Rupadhatu niches on the first four northern balustrades
    Vitarka mudra Reasoning and virtue Vairochana Zenith Rupadhatu niches in all directions on the fifth (uppermost) balustrade
    Dharmachakra mudra Turning the Wheel of dharma (law) Vairochana Zenith Arupadhatu in 72 perforated stupas on three rounded platforms

    The aesthetic and technical mastery of Borobudur, and also its sheer size, has evoked the sense of grandeur and pride for Indonesians. Just like Angkor Wat for Cambodia, Borobudur has become a powerful symbol for Indonesia — to testify for its past greatness. Indonesia's first President Sukarno made a point of showing the site to foreign dignitaries. The Suharto regime — realized its important symbolic and economic meanings — diligently embarked on a massive project to restore the monument with the help from UNESCO. Many museums in Indonesia contain a scale model replica of Borobudur. The monument has become almost an icon, grouped with the wayang puppet play and gamelan music into a vague classical Javanese past from which Indonesians are to draw inspiration. [106]

    Several archaeological relics taken from Borobudur or its replica have been displayed in some museums in Indonesia and abroad. Other than Karmawibhangga Museum within Borobudur temple ground, some museums boast to host relics of Borobudur, such as Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta, Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, British Museum in London, and Thai National Museum in Bangkok. Louvre museum in Paris, Malaysian National Museum in Kuala Lumpur, and Museum of World Religions in Taipei also displayed the replica of Borobudur. [93] The monument has drawn global attention to the classical Buddhist civilization of ancient Java.

    The rediscovery and reconstruction of Borobudur has been hailed by Indonesian Buddhists as the sign of the Buddhist revival in Indonesia. In 1934, Narada Thera, a missionary monk from Sri Lanka, visited Indonesia for the first time as part of his journey to spread the Dharma in Southeast Asia. This opportunity was used by a few local Buddhists to revive Buddhism in Indonesia. A bodhi tree planting ceremony was held in Southeastern side of Borobudur on 10 March 1934 under the blessing of Narada Thera, and some Upasakas were ordained as monks. [107] Once a year, thousands of Buddhist from Indonesia and neighboring countries flock to Borobudur to commemorate national Vesak ceremony. [108]

    The emblem of Central Java province and Magelang Regency bears the image of Borobudur. It has become the symbol of Central Java, and also Indonesia on a wider scale. Borobudur has become the name of several establishments, such as Borobudur University, Borobudur Hotel in Central Jakarta, and several Indonesian restaurants abroad. Borobudur has appeared on Rupiah banknotes and stamps and in numbers of books, publications, documentaries and Indonesian tourism promotion materials. The monument has become one of the main tourism attraction in Indonesia, vital for generating local economy in the region surrounding the temple. The tourism sector of the city of Yogyakarta for example, flourishes partly because of its proximity to Borobudur and Prambanan temples.

    In her poem Borro Boedoor. (1835), Letitia Elizabeth Landon reflects on Borobudur from a Christian perspective.

    The Incredible Temple-Mountain of Borobudur

    On the island of Java, Indonesia, there is a legend still standing today. It is a mountain that has a secret over a thousand years old. Thousands of statues adorn its face, facing the many volcanoes that surround the area. This is Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple complex, which was forgotten and abandoned for centuries, though no one knows why. In fact, it was forgotten for so long that it was hidden beneath volcanic ash and overgrown jungle for hundreds of years.

    But now beautiful Borobudur is a hugely popular Buddhist monument. No one forgets it now, and so I got to enjoy, and share, this fantastic photo-tour with you.

    The island of Java in Indonesia is home to a very special mountain. This mountain has over 1,000 statues scattered all around it. Borobudur is a mountain of mystics and mystery.

    Borobudur was lost for many years until, in 1814, a group of 200 men set a goal for themselves to find this mountain of legend. After six weeks of hacking and slashing their way through overgrown vegetation, volcanic ash and rubble, they found a strange stone statue. Then another, then thousands of them! Today, we can see all of the figures standing on Borobudur.

    A great Panoramic view. So what happened after this place was abandoned? Well, according to Wikipedia: "folk stories gradually shifted from its past glory into more superstitious beliefs associated with bad luck and misery. Two old Javanese chronicles (Babad) from the 18th century mention cases of bad luck associated with the monument.

    According to the Babad Tanah Jawi (or the History of Java), the monument was a fatal factor for Mas Dana, a rebel who revolted against Pakubuwono I, the king of Mataram in 1709. It was mentioned that the &ldquoRedi Borobudur&rdquo hill was besieged and the insurgents were defeated and sentenced to death by the king. In the Babad Mataram (or the History of the Mataram Kingdom), the monument was associated with the misfortune of Prince Monconagoro, the crown prince of the Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1757. In spite of a taboo against visiting the monument, &lsquohe took what is written as the knight who was captured in a cage (a statue in one of the perforated stupas)&rsquo. Upon returning to his palace, he fell ill and died one day later."

    Watch the video: Η ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΒΟΥΔΑ - Guy Sweens - Siddhartas Journey


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