Borobudur is a magnificent Buddhist temple located near Magelang in Java, Indonesia.
Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa in the Mahayana tradition and it is the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
It is one of the world’s most complex buildings.
There is no written record of who built Borobudur or of its intended purpose.
The construction time has been estimated by comparison between 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 750 AD.
The construction has been estimated to have taken 75 years and been completed during the reign of Samaratungga in 825 AD.
The monument consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome.
The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,520 m2.
The temple 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.
The vertical division of Borobudur Temple into base, body, and superstructure perfectly accords with the conception of the Universe in Buddhist cosmology.
It is believed that the Universe is divided into three superimposing spheres, kamadhatu, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu, representing respectively the sphere of desires where we are bound to our desires, the sphere of forms where we abandon our desires but are still bound to name and form, and the sphere of formlessness where there is no longer either name or form.
At Borobudur Temple, the kamadhatu is represented by the base, the rupadhatu by the five square terraces, and the arupadhatu by the three circular platforms as well as the big stupa.
The whole structure shows a unique blending of the very central ideas of ancestor worship, related to the idea of a terraced mountain, combined with the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana.
This extraordinary structure is built as a single large stupa. An aerial view of Borobudur shows the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala.
Enormous amount of stones, approximately 55,000 cubic meters, used in the construction of Borobudur were taken from neighboring rivers. The stone was cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar.
Most temples were built on a flat surface while Borobudur was built on a bedrock hill located 265 m above sea level and 15 m above the floor of a dried-out paleolake.
It was built during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty.
It was only in 1814 that Borobudur started to gained worldwide attention and fame through the efforts of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles when Java was under British rule.
The first photograph and the first monograph of the detailed study of Borobudur were published in 1873.
The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Borobodor, Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction is visited by 2.5 million visitors annually.