Borobudur Temple : The largest Hindu-Buddhist Monument in the world
Posted on : 22 November 2012
Categories : Culture and Heritage
Borobudur is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, located in Central Java, near Magelang, or forty kilometers west of Yogyakarta. This magnificent monument is the largest monument in the southern hemisphere and the greatest single piece of classical architecture in the entire archipelago.
This world's largest Buddhist stupa was actually built on Hindu foundations , a series of three stone terraces which began life in 775 AD as a large step pyramid. When the Buddhist Sailendras took over the site fifteen years later, building resumed on top of the three terraces to become their own temple.
It took 70 years to finish the construction. Millions of local volcanic rock block were joined together without mortar. Sculpted reliefs adorned the lower galleries, covered with stucco and painted. Unfortunately the foundation was unstable, cracks appeared, and the hill became totally waterlogged. It was abandoned and neglected for more than a thousand years. Rediscovered in 1815, but nothing was much done until 1973, when the UNESCO started the full-scale restoration. The project took 11 years. And until now, Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.
Borobudur, unlike most temples, was not built as a dwelling for the gods, but rather as a representation of the Buddhist cosmic mountain, Meru. Accordingly, the base is the real, earthly world, a world of desires and passions, and at the summit is nirvana. Thus, as you make your way around the temple passages and slowly spiral to the summit, you are symbolically following the path to enlightenment.
Let's start the journey!
Yep, let's walk through the park and see the image of the temple in front of us becomes clearer and bigger.
Hang on...we're almost there!
There it is!
Say 'hi' to the two lion gate guardians...!
Ready to climb these stairs? There are 360 steps (including the landings) in total.
No...no..., we're gonna take the path of enlightenment. Starts from the eastern stairway and continue in a clockwise direction. Follow all the stories (on each level on both the outer and inner wall) and you will have circled the temple ten times - a distance of almost 5km.
The story relief panel
A complete set of niche containing seated image of the Buddha, with the carved gargoyle for water drainage.
(Some parts of Borobudur were looted by treasure seekers decades ago)
The cross-legged statue seated in a lotus position
After walking around the four terraces with the rectilinear galleries, you'll come to the round terraces. The three terraces contain diminishing numbers of hollow stone stupas, which each house a Buddha image displaying the dharmacakra mudra (the most teaching gesture). There are 72 stupas in total. The stupas on both lower terraces are built from a stone lattice with diagonal windows with a square harmika above. Those on the top terrace have square windows with an octagonal harmika. Can you see the differences?
On both the lowest and middle terraces a stupa has been left open, so that the images of Buddha can be seen more clearly.
At the summit is another stupa, the biggest one, solid in appearance. During the restoration, an unfinished Buddha image was found inside a hollow chamber there. Now it sits in the nearby museum courtyard. This huge empty stupa, almost 10m in diameter, represents the nirvana! ENJOY!GALLERY