Borobudur

The magnificent world cultural heritage site, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Borobudur was left to the ravages of nature in the 8th Century when the power of Java shifted to the East of the island. The reason for this shift is unknown, but it is often speculated that there was a volcanic eruption and people moved to be away from it. There are manuscripts that relate stories of Javanese re-visiting the site in the 18th Century. But it was the ‘re-discovery’ by the British Sir Stamford Raffles in 1814 that led to greater recognition and also preservation efforts.

In 1815 Raffles commissioned an initial clean up, where 200 labourers spent 45 days felling trees and moving earth from the remains. Many areas of the temple were sagging. Activities continued with documentation and interpretation of the reliefs. It was during the work of Ijzerman in 1885 that the hidden reliefs at the base of the temple were discovered. It was these hidden reliefs that also revealed some Sanskrit instructions left for the carver, with lettering that was so distinctive that the construction of the temple was able to be dated, to the middle of the 9th century, during the time of the Saliendra dynasty reign.

In 1907 a large scale restoration was carried out under Dutchman Van Erp that finished in 1911. The work was significant and definitely safeguarded the temple for some time. However, many of the pieces were not put back in their original positions during the restoration. In 1956 another assessment of the temple was made by a Belgian expert who was sent by UNESCO. His assessment concluded that water damage was significant, and would need to be stemmed if the temple was to have a long term future. The hill below the temple was eroding, the foundations were being weakened and also the reliefs were being eroded. Preparatory work began in 1963, which amongst other things discovered that the hill was not a natural hill as had always been assumed, but areas of it were loamy soil, mixed with stones and stone chips. The initial work assessed the scale of a restoration to be gigantic, and the Indonesian Government then submitted a proposal to UNESCO in 1968 outlining the works needed.

UNESCO gave full support and commenced work to raise funds for the restoration. From 1968 to 1983, research through to restoration took place under UNESCO. Specialists from the world over came to assist in the dismantling, and re-engineering of the site. A great deal of work was also done to develop procedures to prevent the microorganisms eating away the stone. The UNESCO world heritage listing of Borobudur Temple was inscribed in 1991.

BOROBUDUR TEMPLE

The shapes of Borobudur have full of philosophical ornaments which symbolizing the unity in diversity of path to reach the ultimate aim of life. With all its long history and natural surroundings, Borobudur is undeniably a cultural masterpiece.
The Borobudur sanctuary is one of the jewels of the world cultural heritage. A vast Mahayana Buddhist monument in the form of a pyramid-shaped mandala, it was built in the heart of Java around 800 AD by the Sailendra dynasty and abandoned shortly after completion. It covers an area of almost one and a half hectares, with a central dome almost 35 metres above the base. It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, then three circular platforms of 72 openwork stupas and, at the top, a monumental stupa.

The walls and balustrades are decorated with 1,400 bas-reliefs and 432 statues of Buddha. Rediscovered in 1814, the site was cleared of rubble and vegetation, but since then was battered by earthquakes, the elements and the encroaching jungle. Borobudur located in Magelang, Central Java, approximately 40 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

UNESCO launched an international campaign for its restoration in 1972. Completed in 1983, the project, in which 27 countries took part, was the most important of its kind since the Nubian monuments campaign. Borobudur was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991, Ref. 592. (Source : UNESCO).

On June 27th, 2012, Guiness World Records officially declared the magnificent Borobudur Temple in Central Java as “The Single Largest Buddhist Temple in the world”, recorded in Guiness World Records with claim no. 396 - 198.