Borobudur Temple

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
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Trip End Apr 13, 2013


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Jogyakarta Backpackers
What I did
Borobudur Temple

Flag of Indonesia  , Central Java,
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. It was built to honour the glory of both the Buddha and its founder, a true king Bodhisattva. The name Borobudur is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words vihara Buddha uhr, meaning the Buddhist monastery on the hill. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, Muntilan, Magelang, in the southern part of Central Java, about 42 km from Yogyakarta city, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.
 
This colossal temple was built between AD 750 and 842: 300 years before Cambodia's Angkor Wat, 400 years before work had begun on the great European cathedrals. Little is known about its early history except that a huge army of workers worked in the tropical heat to shift and carve the 60,000 m3 of stone. At the beginning of the 11th century AD, because of the political situation in Central Java, divine monuments in that area, including the Borobudur Temple became completely neglected and given over to decay. The Sanctuary was exposed to volcanic eruption and other ravages of nature. The temple was not rediscovered until the 19th century. A first restoration campaign, supervised by Theodor van Erp, was undertaken shortly after the turn of the century. A second one was led more recently (1973-82).

The main temple is a stupa built in three tiers around a hill which was a natural centre: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,520 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.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 represented by the base (the sphere of desires where we are bound to our desires), rupadhatu by the five square terraces (the sphere of forms where we abandon our desires but are still bound to name and form), and arupadhatu by the three circular platforms as well as the big stupa (the sphere of formlessness where there is no longer either name or form).

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.Stylistically the art of Borobudur is a tributary of Indian influences (Gupta and post-Gupta styles). The walls of Borobudur are sculptured in bas-reliefs, extending over a total length of 6 km. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit, each scene an individual masterpiece. The narratives reliefs on the main walls read from the right to left, those on the balustrade from left to right. This was done for the purpose of the Pradaksina, the ritual circumambulation which the pilgrims make moving on the clockwise and keeping the sanctuary to the right.
 
The Karmawibangga reliefs on the hidden foot are devoted to the law of karma. The Lalitavistara series do not provide a complete biography of the Buddha, from the Hushita heaven and end his sermon in the Deer Park near the Benares. Jataka are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Sidharta. Awadana are similar to Jataka, but the main figure is not the Boddhisatva, and the saintly deeds are attributed to other legendary persons.The stories are compiled in the Dvijavadana (Glorious Heavenly Acts) and the Awadana Sataka(Hundred Awadanas). The first twenty panels in the lower series (PHOTOS OF STONE RELIEF ON STAGES 1)of the first gallery depict, the Sudhanakumaravadana. The series of reliefs covering the wall of the second gallery is devoted to Sudhana's tireless wanderings in search of the Highest Perfect Wisdom (PHOTOS OF STONE RELIEF ON STAGES 2-4). The story is continued on the wall and balustrade of the third and fourth galleries. Its depiction in most of the 460 panels is based on the holy Nahayana text Gandavyuha, the concluding scenes being derived from another text, the Badracari.
 
The Borobudur Temple Compounds consists of three monuments: namely the Borobudur Temple and  two smaller temples: Mendut Temple, whose depiction of Buddha is represented by a formidable monolith accompanied by two Bodhisattvas, and Pawon Temple, a smaller temple whose inner space does not reveal which deity might have been the object of worship situatued to the east on a straight axis to Borobudur. The two temples are . Those three monuments represent phases in the attainment of Nirvana.The temple was used as a Buddhist temple from its construction until sometime between the 10th and 15th centuries when it was abandoned. Since its re-discovery in the 19th century and restoration in the 20th century, it has been brought back into a Buddhist archaeological site. 

 
Why a UNESCO Heritage Site:

(1): Borobudur Temple Compounds with its stepped, unroofed pyramid consisting of ten superimposing terraces, crowned by a large bell-shaped dome is a harmonious marriage of stupas, temple and mountain that is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture and monumental arts. 
(2): Borobudur Temple Compounds is an outstanding example of Indonesia’s art and architecture from between the early 8th and late 9th centuries that exerted considerable influence on an architectural revival between the mid-13th and early 16th centuries. 
(3): Laid out in the form of a lotus, the sacred flower of Buddha, Borobudur Temple Compounds is an exceptional reflection of a blending of the very central idea of indigenous ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The ten mounting terraces of the entire structure correspond to the successive stages that the Bodhisattva has to achieve before attaining to Buddhahood.


MY D-I-Y TRIP FROM JOGYAKARTA BACKPACKERS TO BOROBUDUR:

I was supposed to go on a packaged tour to Borobudur but I woke up. By the time I went to check if the guide has come to pick us up, their van has already left. So i hurried back to my room, changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, grabbed my bag and OFF I go to the public bus terminal just across the street from the hostel entrance!

From the street entrance to the hostel, I crossed the main street to the bus stop and waited for bus 2B to Jombor bus station (6,000 rp). When I arrived in Jombor, I asked around for the buses to Prambanan Temple--and voila! off I go to the Prambanan Bus terminal (20,000 rp). From there, I could have walked to the Tample entrance for about a kilometer but I opted to take the Becak (10,000 rp).

The entrance fee for a foreign guest is 190,000 rp with free coffee, tea and water. I took the same route back to the hostel at 11am. It was a blessing I got left behind by the tour, I had enough time to take as much photos as I wanted of the temple...

 

 
References: 
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592/
http://www.borobudurpark.co.id/temple/borobudurTemple
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