Borobudur 9th Centuty Buddhist Temple
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borobudurThe Monument

One of 7 wonders of the world is said it is Borobudur ! It is make sense as until now none knows how to transport such a massive blocks of stones up to the hill to build a massive and big monument. If stone hang at Abbey has been solved by modern historians how to transport the stone, yet Borobudur totally dark still. When the ruins of Borobudur become center of archaeologist's attention since 1814, various experts such as architect, geologists, historians and others got involve in the bringing clear the neglected monument. Various interesting questions aroused about it's time of construction, techniques, and it's function.

Indonesia National Archaeological Service continually and persistently carried out investigation on this challenging monuments. An effort to architecturally restore Borobudur led by Ir. Th. van Erp started in 1907 until 1911 under Dutch government. With this first large scale restoration, the original shape of Borobudur can be step by step formed , although some elements experienced disposition.

Location of Borobudur
The site is 45 kms north of Yogyakarta now belong to the area of Kabupaten Magelang, central Java. The site is a hill of 265 m above sea level on teh north and north-east is active Merapi mountain and Mt. Merbabu, north-west is Mt. Sundara, and Mt. Sumbing. The hill is conical shape with hard volcanic tuff core covered with various layers of sandy and clay. Borobudur has no gate or room for devotees or visitors. The construction is a stepped pyramid with 6 quadrangular galleries at the base followed by 3 circular terraces which are surrounded by big stupa. The diameter of the base is 118 m, and on the top is 36 m. To connect from one to superimposed galleries it is connected by foot steps. The middle of each side of the edifice is laid out stair cases to give access to the upper galleries. The original base which is called hidden foot rediscovered by accident in 1885. The heavy wall of stones covering the original base intended to support the edifice and to prevent it sliding off from it's construction. The encasement encircling the foot of the monument now form a wide processional path.

Cultural Background Borobudur
There are two opinions concerning the origin of Borobudur name. One is said that Borobudur consist of 2 words " bara " and " budur " or " baduhur " means above. It is normal within Javanese Malay when combined words is not easy to be spoken then in the course of history will experience assimilation to become " barabudur " while foneme /a/ in Javanese always spoken as /o/ to become " borobudur ". This explanation linguistically perfect, but links nothing with the history and various documents found so far. Until inscription dated 824 AD and 842 AD were found and mentioning the order of Pramodawardani to Sri Kahulunan to released land for the maintenance of " kamulan i bhumisambhara ". In 824 was ruling His Majesty king Smaratungga. Dutch archaeologist Prof. Dr. Stutterheim put forward his theory based on Buddhist tradition that " kamulan i bhumisambhara " should be added with " bhudara " to be completed and to read " kamulan i bhumi sambhara bhudara " In short it means the temple of Buddha, or Buddhist 7 layers of world. It has been the most probable that this words than changed into " barabudara or borobudur " By this explanation now the constellation of religious, political and social of 9th central Java can be explained, the structure of Borobudur itself now can be explained. The body of the temple itself is divided into 3 levels of Buddhist world : the base is Kamadhatu, the middle is the Rupadhatu, and the top is the Arupadhatu.

Kamadhatu is symbol of human world, with 180 reliefs depicting scene of Karma wibangga or the law of Cause and Effect. Rupadhatu is the symbol of transitional world where human being has started to free step by step his/her worldly life. This part is consist of 4 rectangular storeys which outer part is bordered with balustrade. The walls and balustrade are full of reliefs, not less than 1300 panels and 1212 decorative reliefs, 432 niches around the galleries each with sitting Buddha stature. Arupadhatuas the highest sphere is the abode of Gods, the circular terraces, and central dagob the 3 circular terraces have neither decoration nor relief, only adorned with 72 latticed dagobs, containing Budha statue, arranged in 3 concentric circles and surrounding the main stupa.

Stone Statues
Among big number of narrative reliefs and ornamental carvings, Borobudur is rich with stone sculptures. All depicting Dhyani Budhas, a devotees, that studying Budhism and reached the state of highest Buddhism state. Dhyani Buddha statues are seated at Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu, in crossed legs on lotus cushion and facing outward. The Buddha statues at Rupadhatu are placed in the niches which is arranged on a row on the outer side of balustrades. As the terrace size is diminishing at the upper places the first and second balustrade have 104 sculptures each, the 3rd has 88, the 4th has 72, and the 5th has 64 niches bring in total 432 niches with Buddha statues. At a glance all Buddha statues look the same, but closer observation will show different hand gestures or mudras. The statues facing east has the same mudra, and so do the statues facing each of the cardinal directions except the Buddha statues at 5th balustrade and the 3 circular terraces. In short Buddha statues at Borobudur showing 5 kinds of different mudras corresponding to the cardinal points ( east, west, north, south, zenith ). This has shown the concept of Mahayana Bhudhism ) a concept of Dhyani Buddhas.

The reliefs of Borobudur can be divided into 2 types, narrative panels arranged in rows, and decorative panels, although arranged in row it is an individual panels. Summary of panels can be laid out as follows.

Wall of Hidden Foot Karmawibangga   160 panels
First Gallery Main Wall
a. Lalitasvistara
b. Jataka/Avadana
120 panels
120 panels
Balustrade a. Jataka/Avadana
b. Jakata/Avadana
  372 panels
128 panels
Second Gallery Main Wall
128 panels
100 panels
Third Gallery Main Wall
88 panels
88 panels
Fourth Gallery Main Wall
84 panels
72 panels
TOTAL PANELS   1,460 panels

The narrative reliefs on the main walls read from right to left, those on the balustrade from left to right. This is made for the purpose of the ceremony called " pradaksina " when pilgrims moving in clockwise and keeping the sanctuary to the right.

Karma Wibangga
The reliefs on the foot are devoted to the narration of in evitable law of Karma. The 160 panels do not relate continuous story, but provide one complete illustration of cause and effect. The first 117 panels show various actions producing one and the same results, and remaining 43 panels demonstrate the many results that follow the more or less same effect.

Is a series of depictions but do not provide complete biography of Buddha.

Similar to Jataka, but the main figure is not the Buddha. The stories are compiled in a composition called Dvijavadana, means glorious heavenly acts ( merits ).

This s the reliefs covering the wall of second gallery devoted to Sudhana's tireless wandering in search for perfect wisdom. The story is continued on, the wall and balustrade of the 3rd and 4th galleries. On 460 panels the story is based on the holy Mahayana text of Gandvyuha, and the end of the scene is from the story of the text in Badracari.

Vaiçak Ceremony
Once a year during full moon in May or June attended by thousands of Buddhists come from all over Indonesia. The ceremony is started at Mendut temple. The following day the Buddhists walk in procession from Mendut passing the Pawon temple and finally Borobudur temple

See more interesting places

Garis Bali


Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.

  1. Kintamani tour bring combination of watching barong dance, beautiful temple architecture, beautiful natural views, dance, carving, accessories and painting
  2. Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot temples are two historical heritages from 17th, Taman Ayun palace temple which is always found near palaces of Balinese king starting 18th century
  3. Uluwatu temple located on steep drop cliff on the southernmost tip of Bali island. Visit Bali tour list