Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument dating from the 8th and 9th centuries. It is located on a remote hilltop among a ring of volcanoes in central Java, Indonesia. In Indonesian, ancient temples are called Candi and the locals refer to it as ‘Candi Borobudur’. Borobudur was built during the golden era of the Sailendra dynasty, who ruled Java for about five centuries. It served as a center for pilgrimage and education in Mahayana Buddhism. This great monument was mysteriously abandoned by the 1500s until its rediscovery in the eighteenth century.
The Candi Borobudur is built using 55,000 sq mts of lava rock on a hill in the form of a stepped pyramid. The stones were fit tightly together without the aid of mortar to create a 95-foot-high (29-meter-high) step pyramid. Standing on a 118m by 118m base, it consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a monumental stupa. There are stairways leading up through carved gateways to the top.
The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Around the circular platforms there are 72 openwork stupas, each enclosing a statue of the Buddha. It is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha. They narrate the Buddha’s teachings (the Dharma), events related to his past lives (Jataka tales), and didactic stories from important Buddhist scriptures (sutras).
The Borobudur Temple Compounds consists of three monuments, the Borobudur Temple, Mendut Temple and Pawon Temple. The Mendut and Pawon temples are relatively smaller and are situated on the east to the main temple. The Medut Temple holds the statue of Buddha with two Bodhisattvas but the Pawon temple do not reveal any deity. These three temples represent phases in the attainment of Nirvana.
This amazing monument was abandonded and laid unidentified under the earth and vegetation for many years. In 1814 (when Java was under British control), the English governor, Thomas Stamford Raffles found it’s existence based on the stories from local villagers. The Borobudur temple is the one of the best-preserved ancient monuments and is visited by over a million tourists. UNESCO added the site on the World Heritage List in 1991.