Sunday, July 26, 2009

History of Borobudur

Borobudur was built on a small hill in the Kedu Basin, a rich, fertile valley surrounded by spectacular volcanoes. To the east lie Merapi and Merbabu and to the north lies Sumbing and Sindoro. The unusual jagged Menoreh Hills encircle the temple to the South and West. The temple is also located near the meeting place of two rivers, the Elo and the Progo. These rivers are believed to be symbolic of the Gangga and Yamuna, the two rivers feeding the Indus valley in India. The location was most likely chosen for its central location and expansive views.

Borobudur lies directly south of Tidar Hill, a small knob on the valley floor which according to myth nailed the island of Java in place. We get a sense of the grandness of the landscape when we rise to the final terrace of the monument which opens up into a 360 degree view of the magnificent valley. This feeling of freedom and openness evokes the sense of spiritual release that occurs in Buddhist philosophy when one enters the Arupadhatu, the sphere of enlightenment which is manifested on the final terrace of the monument.

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.