Borobudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. It is world’s largest Buddhist temple.
There are no written records to shed a light about who were the creators of Borobudur or what was their purpose behind building such a massive structure; forcing experts to rely on the contextual evidences. The sculptures and inscription found on the walls of the temple were more common during the 8th and 9th centuries AD and thus it has been estimated that the construction started sometime between 760 and 830 AD, during the Shailendra dynasty in Java. Buddhism and Hinduism both coexisted as the dominant religions in the region in that era and many Hindu-Shaivite and Buddhist monuments were built during the period.
Borobudur was abandoned sometime after its construction, for reasons unknown to Historians; and the monument remained buried under layers of volcanic ash and an aggressive Jungle for centuries. Though the monument was not completely forgotten, it was finally rediscovered and reclaimed from the jungle only during 1811-16 when the British Governor General Thomas S Raffles took great interest in it and started excavations with the help of a Dutch Engineer H.C. Cornelius. The excavation was significantly completed by 1835 and the whole monument finally saw the light of the sun again. Studies were conducted under the supervision of the Dutch East Indies Government and by 1870s; the first monographs on the research were published. The Hidden foot was discovered in 1885.
In the coming decades, Borobudur was mainly a hunting ground for souvenir hunters and suffered from large scale theft of artifacts and sculptures. Finally in 1900, the government established a commission to safeguard the monument. The complex was fenced, repairs were done and a proper drainage system was constructed to prevent any damage to the structure from water logging. More restorations were started in 1907 and then again in 1975 with the help of UNESCO.
Borobudur was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and is now the most visited place in Indonesia.
According to the Buddhist philosophy, the cosmos is divided into three levels. Borobudur represents these three levels in its three layers rising one above the other.
Level 1: Kamadhatu
The first level, Kamadhatu is the material world inhabited by common men and women. It is the base level at which the life form starts and hence forms the base layer of the temple. The hidden foot exists at this level with hundreds of reliefs depicting scenes from Karmawibhangga Sutra, the scripture of the law of cause and effect, human behavior and worldly desires.
Level 2: Rapadhatu
Rapadhatu is the transitional level in which humans get rid of worldly attachments. This level is above the Kamadhatu layer. It consists of four square levels of galleries with ornate stone reliefs depicting scenes from Jataka tales; and niches holding statues of Buddha in meditative poses. Sanskrit inscriptions are carved on this level.
Level 3: Arupadhatu
Arupadhatu is the highest level of enlightenment, the abode of the celestials. In Borobudur, it is the highest layer with three circular terraces leading to an apex stupa representing the ultimate rise over the world. These terraces and the stupa are less ornate and more inclined towards purity of form.
There are 72 smaller stupas on the terraces, perforated and having an inverted bell shape. Each stupa contains a statue of Buddha facing outwards. The central stupa is empty and is said to have contained the relic of Buddha.
|Timing||6:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Citizens and Indonesian Work Permit||Rp. 30,000|
|Guides and Tours|
|Hire Guides||Rp. 75,000 – 100,000/hour|
|Borobudur Sunshine Tour|
|Hotel Guests||Rp. 230,000|
|Tour includes a flashlight and escort. Starts at 4:30 AM and gives time to see the sunrise along with some peace before the tourist crowds come in.|
- Buy Tickets online at www.kiostix.com
- Visitors are required to wear a sarong while visiting the temple. It is available for free at the entrance.
Cover Photo: powertripberkeley
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