Borobudur Temple




The greatest Buddhist monument in the world, the Borobudur Temple complex located in central Java is a destination of Buddhist pilgrimage.  Although there is no written record of who built it, or its purpose, it is estimated to have been constructed in the 8thand 9thcenturies by the Syailendra Dynasty.  Used as a Buddhist temple until sometime between the 10thand 15th centuries, it was abandoned for reasons unknown and was buried under volcanic ash and covered with vegetation.  Discovered by the English Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1814, it was restored in the 20thcentury.


The temple, which was constructed from 2 million stone blocks, was built in three levels, each representing a stage on the way to the bodhisattva ideal of enlightenment. Pilgrims walk clockwise around each of the nine levels before reaching the top, a distance of three miles. 


The base is pyramidal in shape with five concentric square terraces, and is covered in hundreds of reliefs of earthly desires.  The next level is the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms, and contains reliefs of events in the life of the Gautama Buddha and scenes from the “Jatakas”, the stories of his previous lives.  Surrounding the circular platforms are 72 stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.  The upper level, an enormous stupa, represents the “realm of formlessness” or separation from the physical world, and contains no decoration.  The circular shape represents eternity without beginning and end.



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