Borobudur Temple – This famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, is located in central Java just out of Yogyakarta. We visited last long weekend.
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 UNESCO World Heritage Listed monument was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s. It is in very good condition with mostly original materials being used.
While exploring Borobudur we were careful to pradaksina. For Buddhism, this is the rite of entering the temple in the east gateway and circumambulating in a clockwise direction 3 times as we made our way up and around the temple.
As you make your way around the levels of the temple. the wall carvings tell the story of Prince Siddhartha and the birth of Buddha. The story starts with the descent of the Lord Buddha from the Tushita heaven and ends with his first sermon in the Deer Park near Benares. The relief shows the birth of the Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Kapilavastu (in present-day Nepal).
We left our hotel at 3:30am to get to Borobudur for sunrise. I will talk about this in a subsequent post but it was well worth the early rise and hill hike to see the sun rise over this beautiful landscape.
- The square base represents earth
- The hemispherical dome/vase represents water
- The conical spire represents fire
- The upper lotus parasol and the crescent moon represents air
- The sun and the dissolving point represents the element of space
Indonesia has done a good job in trying to protect the temple as much as practical. The local village was relocated and in its place a substantial park has been established. This keeps all hawkers at a distance and lets you truly appreciate the majestic nature of the temple.
Our guide was from the original village and he said that most people were OK to be relocated, it was mainly business people that protested. Many now have jobs associated with Borobudur tourism.
Of course, as we explored, Emily was asked by a group of local school kids to have their picture taken with her. A common event in our Asian travels.