Borobudur, besides being one of the most magnificent ancient constructions, is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. The building, which has the shape of a stupa (Buddhist architecture that mimics the ancient burial mounds, which were the tombs of past civilizations), was founded and built by Mahayana Buddhists around 800 AD, during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty.
In 1991, this historic site became one of the seven wonders of the modern world (ancient wonders that are still preserved), designated as a world heritage by UNESCO.
Borobudur has the most complete and extensive collection of Buddhist reliefs in the world. The main stupa, which is the largest, is in the center and crowns the building. It is surrounded by three circles of 72 hollow stupas. Inside each of these minor stupas there is a statue of Buddha sitting cross-legged in a perfect lotus position with mudra (hand attitude) and dharmachakra mudra (turning the dharma wheel [spiritual protection]).
Borobudur Temple in Indonesia, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world (Photo: www.pixabay.com)
This monument was built as a model of the universe, conceived as a sacred place to glorify the Buddha, and prepared to serve as a pilgrimage site to guide humanity to move from the world of lust to enlightenment and wisdom, according to the Buddhist teachings
Borobudur is located in the Magelang Province, Central Java, in Indonesia. It is located about 100 km southwest of Semarang, 86 km west of Surakarta and 40 km northwest of the city of Yogyakarta.
Borobudur is on a hill in a plain flanked by a pair of twin mountains, Mount Sindoro-Sumbing to the northwest and Mount Merbabu-Merapi to the northeast. To the north is the hill of Tidar, and to the south the hills of Menoreh. Near the temple, to the east, is the confluence of the Progo and Elo rivers.
Buddha statue among the stupas of the Borobudur temple (Photo: www.pixabay.com)
According to historical evidence, Borobudur was abandoned in the fourteenth century, when the power of the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in Java began to weaken and Islamic influence increased.
Borobudur was hidden and abandoned for centuries, buried under a layer of earth and volcanic ash that was then covered with trees and shrubs, so, before being discovered, the temple seemed to be no more than a large hill.
The real reason why Borobudur was abandoned is still unknown. But in 928 and 1006, Raja Mpu Sindok moved the royal capital of Medang to East Java, after a series of volcanic eruptions. Some sources suspect that this factor may have been the reason for abandonment.
The world began to realize the existence of this building when it was discovered, in 1814, by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who at that time served as Governor General of England over Java. Since then, Borobudur has undergone a series of rescue and restoration efforts.
Today, Borobudur is still used as a place of religious pilgrimage. Every year, Buddhists who come from all over Indonesia and abroad meet in Borobudur to commemorate Vesak Trisuci, the festival where the day of birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha is celebrated. In the world of tourism, Borobudur is the most visited archaeological attraction in Indonesia.
Unlike other temples built on flat land, Borobudur was built on a hill with a height of 265 m (869 ft) above sea level and 15 m (49 ft) on the basis of the old bed of a dry lake. The veracity of the existence of lake was a topic of heated debate among archaeologists of the twentieth century.
Rows of stupas in the Borobudur temple (Photo: www.pixabay.com)
For those of you who are interested in visiting the Borobudur Temple, here we show you how to get there:
The Yogyakarta bus
From Yogyakarta, you must go to the Jombor bus terminal and then board the bus towards Borobudur. However, if you are at the Adisutjipto airport, it is advisable to take the Damri bus, which goes directly from the airport to Borobudur.
Within the city, you can take the Trans Jogja bus to the Jombor terminal. Borobudur Department buses are usually smaller than interprovincial buses and cost around Rp 10,000. Travel time is usually around 1 hour. After arriving at the Borobudur terminal, you must continue the trip by becak (cicle taxi), dokar (horse taxi) or on foot.
Private vehicle from Yogyakarta
The main road to Borobudur from Yogyakarta is through the road to Magelang. To get to the Magelang road you can go to the Jombor bus terminal and from there head north towards the city of Magelang. After about 40 km of travel you will see the pointed Muntilan Bamboo Monument. Shortly after the monument, you will arrive at a T-junction, there you must take the path on the left, towards Palbapang (Mungkid Magelang). The distance between Palbapang and Borobudur is about 10 km. The Mendut temple is about 4.5 km away.
The Semarang bus
From the Semarang bus terminal, take a bus towards Jogja/Magelang. You can get off at several places, such as at the Magelang bus terminal, or at the Blondo intersection (T-junction between Mertoyudan and Blabak), or at the Palbapang intersection (T-junction between Blabak and Muntilan). From there you can continue the trip to the Borobudur terminal using the bus in the direction of Borobudur. The distance from Semarang to Borobudur is about 90 km and takes about 3.5 hours.