Let us learn about the past in Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple was built in the 8th century and has been designated by UNESCO as one of the world’s cultural heritage (world heritage). (photo: IO/Dessy Aipipidely)

IO, Magelang – Borobudur is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, and is located in Magelang, Central Java. The temple is located around 100 km from Semarang, 86 km from Surakarta and 40 km from Yogyakarta. Sitting in the Menoreh Hills, it is surrounded by Merapi, Merbabu, Sindoro, and Sumbing mountains.

“Boro” means “monastery” and “Budur” means “on top”. Sir Thomas Raffles was the first person to introduce Borobudur to the world in 1814.

Because of its grandeur and majesty, the eighth-century temple was made into a world heritage by UNESCO. Borobudur was built between 760 and 830 AD and was thought to have taken 75 to 100 years to build. It was finally completed during the Reign of King Samaratungga in 825 AD.

Restorations of the temple have been undertaken twice, the first done by the Dutch, under the leadership of TH. Van Erp, between 1907-1911. The restoration was targeted mostly towards the Arupadhatu part, the tip of the temple which consists of three circular platforms and a central stupa. The second restoration was carried out between 1975-1983, implemented by Indonesia in collaboration with UNESCO.

Because the Arupadhatu portion was still in shape, the second restoration focused on the Rupadhatu level and the Kamadhatu, the foot of the temple. In the restoration, there was a disassembly of the whole Rupadhatu area, the insertion of a reinforced concrete foundation for every level, a drainage system created and a layer of waterproofing coated, while a cleaning of the temple stones from microorganisms like moss, fungus, and other impurities.

The temple is in the form of a step-pyramid and is divided into 10 levels which represent the process of human life.

Borobudur has six square platforms, with three circular platforms above them. On the walls there are 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The main stupa is located in the middle of the temple and is surrounded by three rings of 72 perforated stupas, each of which contains a Buddha statue in the middle, sitting cross-legged with its hands in the Dharmachakra mudra position – which symbolizes turning the wheel of dharma (law).

On each level, there are beautiful reliefs which implicitly show the teachings of Buddhism, which was the religion of the land at that time.

Besides being the highest symbol in the Buddhist religion, stupas from Borobudur also intend to portray the form of the universe. They symbolize the micro-cosmos, which is divided into three levels: the first a world where human wants are affected by negative impulses, the second a world where humans can control their negative impulses and rely on their positive impulses, and the final and highest level a world where humans are no longer limited by desires and physical needs.

Buddha statues inside the stupas decorate the highest floor in Borobudur, which is a very good place to calm and refresh yourself, and rest a moment after touring the temple from the first floor, as not only the stupas are beautiful but the view of the surrounding nature from this level is astounding.

Currently, Borobudur is one of the most visited destinations in Indonesia, attracting both domestic and international tourists. Are you interested in visiting? (Dessy Aipipidely)