BOROBUDUR TEMPLE @ CENTRAL JAVA INDONESIA

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Indonesia: Mahayana Buddhist temple is in Magelang Regency, not far from the town of Muntilan, in Central Java, Indonesia. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.

Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.

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The temple demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. The monument is a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage.

The pilgrim journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rūpadhātu (the world of forms) and Arūpadhātu (the world of formlessness).

The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades. Borobudur has one of the largest and most complete ensembles of Buddhist reliefs in the world.

Evidence suggests that Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and subsequently abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, followed by the monument’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and ranks with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia as one of the great archeological sites of Southeast Asia. Borobudur remains popular for pilgrimage, with Buddhists in Indonesia celebrating Vesak Day at the monument. Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.

Borobudur was the biggest Buddhist temple in the eighth century measuring 123 x 123 meters. It is located at Magelang, 90-km southeast of Semarang, or 42-km northwest of Yogyakarta. Borobudur temple is the one of the best preserved ancient monuments in Indonesia that are most frequently visited by over a million domestic as well as foreign visitors. The architectural style has no equal throughout the world. It was completed centuries before Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Borobudur is one of the world’s most famous temples; it stands majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Borobudur is built of gray andesite stone. It rises to seven terraces, each smaller than the one below it. The top is the Great Stupa, standing 40 meters above the ground. The walls of the Borobudur are sculptured in bas-reliefs extending over a total length of six kilometers. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefes in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit and each scene an individual masterpiece.

Borobudur temple built in the eighth century by the Sailendra dynasty, is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words “Vihara Buddha Uhr” the Buddhist Monastery on the hill. Borobudur is a terraced temple surrounded by stupas, or stone towers; the terraces resemble Indonesian burial foundations, indicating that Borobudur was regarded as the symbol of the final resting place of its founder, a Syailendra, who was united after his death with the Buddha.

The Prambanan temple complex is also associated with a dead king. The inscription of 856 mentions a royal funeral ceremony and shows that the dead king had joined Shiva, just as the founder of the Borobudur monument had joined the Buddha. Divine attributes, however, had been ascribed to kings during their lifetimes. A Mahayana inscription of this period shows that a ruler was said to have the purifying powers of a bodhisattva, the status assumed by the ruler of Shrivijaya in the 7th century; a 9th-century Shaivite inscription from the Kedu Plain describes a ruler as being “a portion of Shiva”.

Photo by: Sakura