Borobudur is a ninth century Buddhist temple complex in Central Java, 40 km (25mi) northwest of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Surrounded by idyllic landscape of incomparable beauty, the temple stands as one of the most impressive examples of Buddhist sacred and unique architecture in the world. The temple was more likely built between the 8th and 9th century during the Sailendra dynasty for the devotees of Mahayana Buddhism.
Owing to its unique and magnificent craftsmanship, in 1991 UNESCO designated Borobudur a World Heritage Site as “Borobudur Temple Compounds”. UNESCO also included Mendut Temple and Pawon Temple in the designation, all located in a straight line.
Mendut Temple is situated 3 km away from Borobudur and is a temple with exquisite interiors. A quite and peaceful Buddhist Temple has three daunting Buddhist statues.
Pawon Temple is on the way to Mendut Temple and is situated one and half km east of Borobudur Temple. The temple is a merge of ancient Javanese and Indian art. The temple is believed to have been built for Kubera, the Hindu and Buddhist divinity of fortune.
Borobudur is a single large stupa and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. When viewed from above, the monument takes the form of the tantric Buddhist mandala and seems as if the monument is floating. The sight is worth watching and is simply a replica of the universe. The monument sits on a hill and is built in three layers – a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, a cone with three circular platforms and at the top, a monumental stupa. Around the 3 circular stupas are 72 open stupas with statues of Buddha inside. The walls and balustrades are decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, covering a total surface of 2,500 square metres. Of the total 504 Buddha statues, over 300 have been mutilated (mostly headless) and 43 have been stolen.
Apart from the story of Buddhist cosmology carved in stones, Borobudur has many Buddha statues. The cross-legged Buddha statues, distributed on the five square platforms (the Rupadhatu level) and on the top platform (the Arupadhatu level), sit in lotus positions.
Borobudur stands in three sections, each section leading the devotee to the highest level of Enlightenment. The journey of the pilgrims starts by following a path by circumambulating the monument in a clockwise direction before he reaches the next level. By going round and round the monument he covers a distance of five kilometers, hence reaching the top.
The first level represents the world of desire ( Kamadhatu ), the second level the world of forms ( Rupadhatu ), and the third level the world of the formless ( Arupadhatu ). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.
Evidence suggests that the temple was abandoned in the 10th or 11th century and only rediscovered at the end of the 19th century. It was Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1814, the then British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. The structure was cleared of the vegetation, and finally at the end of 20th century it was restored with the help of UNESCO.