Borobudur (Indonesia) - the largest Buddhist temple in the world
Location show on map
Magelang, Java, Indonesia
Date of build
Years 750 - 825 A.D.
Borobudur is a Buddhist temple located in Indonesia, near Magelang on Java.
The Borobudur Temple is one of the most complex buildings in the world and the largest Buddhist monument in the world. It was inscribed on the Guinness record list as the largest archaeological site of a Buddhist temple in the world. Its area is 15129 square meters (123 x123 meters).
The approximate time of creation of the monument is between 750 - 825 AD. Construction lasted 75 years and was completed during the reign of the Samaratungga of the Sailendra dynasty. There is no mention of the purpose of the building, and the Gunadharma is considered a probable architect.
This unusual structure is built as one big stupa, the simplest type of Buddhist sacred building. The bird's eye view of Borobudura shows the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala.
The temple has no interior, consists of nine-story platforms, six square and three circular ones, topped with a central dome.
The whole is decorated with a total of 2672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, which together decorate an area of 2520 m². The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues.
About 55 thousand cubic meters of stones were used to build the monument. They form a structure that can be divided into three parts: base, main part, and superstructure. This is consistent with the concept of the universe of Buddhist beliefs, which assumes the division of the universe into three spheres: desires (kamadhatu), forms (rupadhatu), and formlessness (arupadhatu). Kamadhatu is represented by the base, rupadhatu by five square terraces, and arupadhatu by three round platforms and a big stupa.
Borobudur is built without mortar, stones were brought here from neighboring rivers, then they were cut to size and laid.
The temple is located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes and two rivers. Most of the buildings were built on a flat surface, while Borobudur itself was built on a rocky hill at an altitude of 265 m above sea level and 15 m above the floor of a dried lake.
Borobudur is a place of pilgrimage for the faithful. Pilgrims walk along the marked route on the lower levels, looking at the carved reliefs and absorbing the history of Buddha. Then, by climbing up and watching the galleries and sculptures, they have a sense of spiritual development, necessary to move from the sphere of desires to the higher levels.
The monument was hidden under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth for hundreds of years. It was not until 1814 that it was discovered by Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles and then the whole area was cleared by 1835.
The complex is the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia. Every year it is visited by 2.5 million tourists.
In 1991, the monument was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, earlier, between 1975 and 1982, it underwent a major renovation by UNESCO and the Indonesian government.
Official website: https://borobudurpark.com/
"Borobudur and many other archaeological sites in South and Southeast Asia often have orientalized narratives attached to them wherein colonizers “discover” or “bring to light” ancient monuments. These distortions discount the real and living history of the site." - essay by Robert E. Gordon