The temple complexes on Central Java date from the 8th to 9th centuries. They form the largest temple in Southeast Asia. In the center is a colossal temple pyramid, which is built up from seven floors. Its outer walls are decorated with elaborate bas-reliefs depicting the life of Buddha. The upper part of the temple is made up of three terraces on which there are 72 stupas. Borobudur is considered the most important temple complex of Mahayana Buddhism.
Borobudur Buddhist Temples: Facts
|Official title:||Buddhist temples of Borobudur|
|Cultural monument:||largest temple in Southeast Asia, name refers to “Buddhist monastery in a high place”, also to “mountain of the accumulation of virtues in the ten phases of the Bodhisattva”; “Temple Mount” made of 56,640 cubic meters of stone material, 123 m side length of the square foundation, 5 square and 3 round terraces up to a height of 33.5 m, originally 42 m; 1460 large figural reliefs from the life of Gautama Buddha, in niches 432 Buddha figures, 72 stupas – bell-shaped structure – with seated Buddha statues|
|Country:||Indonesia, Central Java|
|Location:||Borobudur, Progo Valley|
|Meaning:||Symbol of Mahayana Buddhism and world-famous pilgrimage site for Buddhists|
Borobudur Buddhist Temples: History
|around 800||Start of construction in the time of the Shailendra dynasty (778-870)|
|1814||Rediscovery by an English colonial official|
|1885||Discovery of 160 reliefs that were originally walled|
|1907-11||Restoration work under the direction of Theodor van Erp|
|1948||Studies for the overall restoration of the facility|
|1973||Restoration work begins under the auspices of UNESCO|
|02/22/1984||State act to complete the restoration work|
|January 21/22, 1985||Damage to nine stupas due to a bomb attack|
|1995||Publication of a management plan to control the flow of visitors and to preserve the World Heritage monument|
|2010||After the eruption of the Merapi volcano, acid ash was removed from the temple complexes intensively|
The path to enlightenment
»Sunrise« is the word that is used to advertise organized tours to places of interest in Indonesia according to ehealthfacts. Whether you go to the classically shaped volcano of Bromo on Java or to the shimmering lakes at the foot of Kelimutu on Flores, you always have to get up early to be there. The journey from the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta to Borobudur, about 40 kilometers away, begins in the dark so that the bus is there on time for the opening of the facility at six o’clock. The rays of the rising sun not only bathe the largest Buddhist sanctuary in the southern hemisphere – which is no longer used as such in predominantly Muslim Indonesia – in a magical light, they also give the more than 1400 bas-reliefs of the temple complex a special plasticity.
In the Kedu plain, which is surrounded by mountains, rests majestically and yet multifariously the monument, built on a square base around a natural hill, like a step pyramid, rising in terraces. Three religious architectural ideas merge in its shape: The Borobudur is a symbolic representation of the mythological golden world mountain Meru, it has the bell shape of the stupa, which is characteristic of many Buddhist shrines, originally a simple burial mound, and it represents a meditation aid in the sense of the mandala Entering the complex through one of the four entrances and walking around the five square and the three round terraces resting on it, you get from the “sphere of desires” via the “sphere of form” to that of “formlessness”.
On the way around the sanctuary, the viewer passes countless reliefs carved in basalt stone, which conjure up the world of lust and suffering in the lower area, retell the life of Buddha in the middle and depict scenes from the life of a Bodhisattva in the upper area; According to the doctrine of the “great vehicle”, the goal of these “enlightened beings” is to transfer their own merits to others before the transition into nirvana and thus to redeem them from the cycle of rebirth.
Today, the realistic and lively reliefs in the lower zones offer, in addition to sheer delight, a unique insight into the era when the works of art were created. Century, reliefs with flute players and drummers provide musicologists illustrative material, biologists can use the works of art to find out about domestic and wild animals of the time.
On the three upper round terraces, in the “sphere of formlessness”, the view opens onto the surroundings and the sky where the sun has long passed its zenith. Dozens of Buddha images stand on these open terraces; apart from two, they are only partially visible because they are surrounded by small stupas made of openwork stones. Other Buddha statues look out at the tropical landscape with relaxed smiles from open niches above the gallery walkways.
It is thanks to UNESCO and the financial aid action of 27 countries that Borobudur is not a ruin, but rather towers high into the sky as an imposing monument of faith. In painstaking detailed work, over a million stone blocks were removed, cataloged, cleaned and preserved and a new drainage system installed before the system was rebuilt. In the late afternoon, we take a last look back at the temple, which was only used as a sanctuary for a short time after its completion in the first half of the 9th century and was then left to the wild growth of the jungle for centuries.