Borobudur Temple Compounds

800px-borobudur-nothwest-view
Borobudur Temple (Gunawan Kartapranata/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

 Indonesia
Regency of Magelang, Province of Central Java
S7 36 28.008 E110 12 12.996
Date of Inscription: 1991
Criteria: (i)(ii)(vi)
Property : 25.51 ha
Buffer zone: 64.31 ha
Ref: 592
News/Travelogue: INDONESIA; ID – BOROBUDUR TEMPLE COMPOUNDS

800px-candi_mendut_29
Mendut Temple (Gryffindor/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0).

This famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, is located in central Java. It was built in three tiers: 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 2,500 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The monument was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s.

Brief synthesis

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. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.

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, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu, representing respectively the sphere of desires where we are bound to our desires, the sphere of forms where we abandon our desires but are still bound to name and form, and the sphere of formlessness where there is no longer either name or form. At Borobudur Temple, the kamadhatu is represented by the base, the rupadhatu by the five square terraces, and the arupadhatu by the three circular platforms as well as the big stupa. 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.

The Temple should also be seen as an outstanding dynastic monument of the Syailendra Dynasty that ruled Java for around five centuries until the 10th century.

The Borobudur Temple Compounds consists of three monuments: namely the Borobudur Temple and  two smaller temples situatued to the east on a straight axis to Borobudur. The two temples are 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. 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.

Criterion (i): 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.

Criterion (ii): 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.

Criterion (vi): 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.

Suggested base:

Yogyakarta — despite the official spelling, the name is usually pronounced and not uncommonly written Jogjakarta or just Jogja (JOG-jah) — is a major tourist destination in Indonesia. It is the capital of Yogyakarta Special Region to the south of Central Java province. Yogyakarta is a bustling town of some 500,000 people and the most popular tourist destination on Java, largely thanks to its proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. The city is a centre of art and education, offers some good shopping and has a wide range of tourist facilities [read more].

Semarang is the capital of Central Java province in Indonesia. The city’s name is said to derive from the Javanese words “asem” and “arang”, which could be translated as “scarce tamarind.” Semarang lies on the province’s northern coast. It is a bustling, growing mid-sized city with a population of over 1.5 million. More an administrative and business town rather than a tourist destination, it nevertheless has its own charm, with contrasting modern mid-rises, a significant set of Dutch colonial architecture, Chinatown, and “kampung” all jutting against each other. Semarang’s topography is marked by a narrow coastal plain, rising sharply inland [read more]. 

Solo the short name for Surakarta, is a major city in Central Java, Indonesia. Together with Yogyakarta, these two great cultural centres are heirs of the Mataram kingdom that was split in 1755. Both centres are good bases for trips to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites like the temple complexes of Borobudur and Prambanan. Solo lies some 100 km (62 mi) south of Semarang and some 60 km (37 mi) east of Yogyakarta. As the ‘twin’ sister of Yogyakarta, this city looks much like the latter. But because Solo is not a provincial capital, this city has preserved much of its Javanese character [read more].

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One Reply to “Borobudur Temple Compounds”

  1. As we make our way to the top in 36-degree heat and what feels like 100 per cent humidity, I am in awe of this incredible monument. It’s so calm and peaceful and the view of the distant mountains shrouded in clouds and the thick jungle below is simply breathtaking. The carvings on the walls are so intricate and every panel tells a story.

    Like

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