85 Borobudur Temple Facts Unveiled On The Buddhist Pilgrimage Site

Oluniyi Akande
Jan 23, 2024 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Feb 16, 2022
One of the Borobudur Temple facts is that 72 statues of Buddha surround the central dome of the temple.
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The Borobudur Temple is the biggest monument associated with Buddhism in the world.

The temple, along with the stupas and the mountain, is considered to be a masterpiece of monumental arts and Buddhist architecture. It is a major pilgrimage site for Indonesian Buddhists as well as those all around the world.

With its strategic location and construction, Borobudur not only appears magnificent but also represents the philosophy of Buddhism in many ways. It also brings out many tourists to the region every year. Read on to explore more interesting facts about the Borobudur Temple.

The Borobudur Temple Location

The Borobudur Temple is a Buddhist temple with great significance for Buddhists all over the world. Facts about the geographical location of the temple are mentioned below.

  • This Buddhist temple is located in Indonesia.
  • It is situated in central Java, near Magelang.
  • The temple's specific location in the special province of Yogyakarta brings many tourists to the region every year.
  • The area where the temple is built is fertile.
  • The Borobudur Temple is located between two mountains, namely, Mount Merapi-Merbabu and Mount Sindoro-Sumbing.
  • These mountains are considered to be twin mountains that are active volcanoes.
  • Menoreh Mountains also surround this beautiful temple.
  • Progo and Elp are two rivers that also surround the Borobudur Temple.
  • The area where this sacred temple is located is known as Kedu Plain, which is a Javanese sacred place.
  • Due to the area's high agricultural fertility, it has been given the title 'The Garden of Java.'
  • There are, in total, three temples located in the special region of Yogyakarta.
  • These three temples are the Borobudur Temple, the Mendut Temple, and the Pawon Temple.
  • In the early 20th century, when the restoration process of these temples took place, it was found that all three temples fell in a straight alignment.
  • There are speculations that the Borobudur Temple was constructed atop a bedrock hill and some distance above the bottom of Paleolake (a lake), which has dried out over the centuries.
  • Borobudur was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991 after it was renovated.
  • The central dome is encircled by 72 Buddha statues, each seated in a perforated stupa.
  • Many of these Buddha statues and other relics inside the temple were stolen several times after it was rediscovered.
  • Some of the statues were also damaged due to a bombing attack that took place in 1980.
  • Even with the setbacks and damage, Borobudur still remains a spectacular piece of architecture and history.

 

The History Of The Borobudur Temple

The Borobudur Temple is known as Candi Borobudur in Indonesian. The origin and significance of the Borobudur Temple are part of Indonesian history. Some of these historical facts about the temple are listed below.

  • The construction of the Borobudur Temple complex took place during the eighth and ninth centuries when the Sailendra Dynasty (Shailendra or Syailendra Dynasty) held the reigning power.
  • Java was ruled by the Sailendra Dynasty for over five centuries until the 10th century.
  • It is said that the construction of the Borobudur Temple took about 1,200 years to complete, but there is no way to verify this claim.
  • During the period in which the temple was built, there were no modern, sophisticated tools.
  • Workers constructed the temple using simple tools like levers and hammers.
  • The Borobudur Temple has served as one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites since the time it was constructed.
  • The temple attracted many tourists, even from far away countries such as China and India.
  • During the 15th century, the temple was abandoned and thus lost its status as a pilgrimage site.
  • The reason behind the abandonment has not been confirmed, yet there have been many speculations made regarding the subject.
  • Some studies suggest that the temple might have been abandoned due to volcanic eruptions and the migration of the community living in the area to another region.
  • There are other studies that hint at the fact that the increase of Islamic belief among the people living in the region might have been the reason.
  • These speculations further take a turn into the realm of folklore and superstitions, where the abandonment of the temple is associated with notions of misery and bad luck.
  • After the Borobudur Temple was deserted, it was reclaimed by nature as it was covered with forest foliage and volcanic ash.
  • The temple remained hidden deep in the jungle of Java for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered.
  • The rediscovery of the Borobudur Temple was made possible through the British occupancy in Java during 1811-1816.
  • Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles was appointed as the governor of Java by the British government.
  • Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles was a history enthusiast who collected antique relics of the Javanese culture.
  • When he was informed of the presence of a great monumental temple situated in the jungle of central Java, he sent a Dutch engineer, Hermann Cornelius, to investigate and report back to him.
  • Along with around 200 men, Cornelius cut down trees and unearthed several areas to get to the temple.
  • Cornelius sent regular reports back to Governor Raffles about the progress he had made in rediscovering the Borobudur Temple.
  • However, he was not able to unearth all the galleries of the temple since there was the threat of the structure collapsing on itself.
  • The work of Hermann Cornelius was carried forward by Christiaan Lodewijk Hartmann, who was a resident of the Kedu region.
  • Hartmann was able to excavate the whole site of the temple complex in 1835.
  • Hartmann's interest in excavating the temple is considered to be more personal than official, according to some stories.
  • An alleged story related to Hartmann's excavation of the Borobudur Temple is that he had supposedly found a large Buddha statue inside the main stupa.
  • The investigation of the main dome was carried out by Hartmann in 1842, yet what he found inside was never officially revealed, and the main stupa has remained empty.
  • While the temple was being rediscovered, due to its unstable condition, the chief inspector of cultural artifacts suggested that the reliefs of the monument be relocated to museums and the temple be disassembled.
  • However, this suggestion was rejected.
  • One of the curators at the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences investigated the whole site upon the request of the government and refuted the temple's claim of being unstable.
  • Over the years, while the Borobudur Temple was being restored, there were many instances of the relics inside the temple being stolen.
The Borobudur Temple is located in the central Java region in Indonesia.

The Architectural Style Of The Borobudur Temple

Widely considered the most prominent Buddhist temple in the world, the Borobudur Temple is a great example of Buddhist architecture. Some amazing facts about this temple's architecture and design are mentioned below.

  • The architectural design of the Borobudur Temple is heavily influenced by the fact that it was a site of worship.
  • It was further affected by the principles of Mahayana Buddhism, which was the religion practiced by the constructors of the temple.
  • The base of the Borobudur Temple is square-shaped and holds nine platforms.
  • The shape of the first six platforms is rectangular, while the rest have a circular appearance.
  • When viewed from far away, the temple appears like a stupa, and from an aerial view, it looks like a Buddhist mandala.
  • Due to the fact that it is an open temple, visitors are able to see carvings on the walls of each level in the open.
  • A big stupa is surrounded by smaller stupas at circular levels.
  • There are three tiers of the Borobudur Temple, with the pyramidal base having five square terraces of concentric nature.
  • Atop these square terraces lay a cone's trunk along with three platforms with a circular shape.
  • A monumental stupa forms the topmost tier of the temple, which is also the largest stupa.
  • The architecture of the Borobudur Temple is further made beautiful with Buddhist reliefs covering the walls as well as the balustrades of the temple.
  • The concept of the universe as per Buddhist cosmology is perfectly depicted through the vertical division of the temple.
  • According to the theory, the universe is divided into three spheres that superimpose each other.
  • These three spheres are kamadhatu, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu, which respectively represent the sphere of desires, the sphere of forms, and the sphere of formlessness.
  • When it comes to the Borobudur Temple, the base of the temple represents kamadhatu.
  • The five square terraces depict rupadhatu.
  • The big stupa and three circular platforms represent arupadhatu.
  • The entire structure of the temple exhibits a unique combination of the main concepts of ancestor worship.
  • They, in turn, are linked to the concept of a terraced mountain and Buddhist ideas about attaining Nirvana.

 

The Significance Of The Borobudur Temple

The Borobudur Temple holds a special place in Buddhism as one of the major pilgrimage sites of this religion. Facts about the importance of this temple as per its construction, location, and existence as a religious site are listed below.

  • After the renovation of the temple in 1973 with the help of UNESCO, it once again became a place for worship for Buddhists living in Indonesia as well as in other parts of the world.
  • Vesak is a day celebrated annually in May or June amidst the full moon in Indonesia by the Buddhists living there.
  • The day is observed in commemoration of the birth and death of Buddha as well as the time when Siddhartha Gautama attained the wisdom of the highest level and became Buddha.
  • The ceremony held on this day is organized at the three temples in Yogyakarta.
  • It involves the act of walking, which goes from Mendut to Pawon and then ends at Borobudur.
  • Borobudur also serves as a tourist attraction that brings thousands of tourists to Indonesia every year.
  • It has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Indonesia after its restoration.
  • The ceremony held on Vesak Day also attracts tourists due to the activities organized on that day at Borobudur.
  • Monks at the Borobudur Temple generally meditate for about 30 minutes on the night of Vesak.
  • They do this in the open area in front of Borobudur.
  • Tourists can also participate in meditation with guidance from monks.
  • After the meditation, there is the activity of releasing sky lanterns.
  • Monks help the people release sky lanterns, which represent the release of peace and hope worldwide.
  • These lanterns floating in the air create a pretty sight to watch.
  • Borobudur also received a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest Buddhist archeological site in the world in June 2012.
  • Borobudur is not just an archeological site, though, as it also holds great meaning in Buddhism.
  • While it may seem common, the temple, along with its architectural style, reliefs, and Buddha statues, depicts the philosophy and wisdom of Buddha.
  • Borobudur can help to understand the concept of wisdom taught by Buddha, which is still an important part of Buddhism.

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Sources

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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