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Borobudur Indonesia

Borobudor Indonesia

  • Borobudur, also called Barabudur is a Temple in Central Java. It’s the world’s biggest Buddhist temple and among the greatest Buddhist monuments all over the world. It is Indonesia's most visited tourist attraction. The memorial consists of 6 four-sided platforms crowned by 3 platforms which are circular and is embellished with 504 Buddha statues and 2,672 panels. A main dome, situated at the middle of the topmost platform, is encircled by seventy two Buddha sculptures each one is seated inside a holed stupa.
  • The temple was constructed in the 9th century during the rule of the Sailendra Dynasty. It was planned in Buddhist architecture of Java that mergers the Buddhist perception of achieving Nirvana as well as the Indonesian native trend of ancestor worship. The temple also shows the impacts of Gupta art which reflects influence of India on the region, however there are sufficient native elements and scenes included to make Borobudur exclusively Indonesian. The memorial is both a place for Buddhist pilgrimage as well as a tomb of the Lord Buddha. The pilgrimage starts at the base of the memorial and follows a track around the memorial and rises to the top through 3 levels representative of Buddhist religion: Kāmadhātu, Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu. The memorial guides pilgrims through an elaborate system of passages and staircases with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the balustrades and the walls. Borobudur has the most complete and biggest group of Buddhist reliefs all over the world.
  • Borobudur was built in the 9th century and deserted after the Javanese conversion to Islam and the decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java in 14th-century. Its presence was sparked worldwide when native Indonesians informed Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the British ruler of Java in 1814. Since then Borobudur has been preserved by many renovations. After the biggest restoration by UNESCO and the Indonesian government, between 1975 and 1982 the memorial was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Once a year, pilgrims visit Borobudur. At the monument, Indonesian Buddhists celebrate Vesak.


  • In Indonesia, local people call ancient temples as candi. Borobudur Temple is called as Candi Borobudur. The origins of the name Borobudur are not clear.
  • Most ancient temples are named after a neighbouring village. Borobudur is near village of Bore. Raffles proposed that the name could have been derived from boro, meaning "honourable" or "great" and Budur for Buddha.


The three temples

  • Borobudur is situated in a high area between 2 twin volcanoes, Merbabu-Merapi and Sundoro-Sumbing and 2 rivers, the Elo and the Progo, about 86 kilometres west of Surakarta and 40 kilometres northwest of Yogyakarta. In the early 20th century, during the renovation it was learnt that 3 Buddhist temples in the area, Mendut, Pawon and Borobudur are situated along a straight line.

Ancient lake

  • Borobudur was constructed15 metres above the floor of a dried-out palaelake, on a bedrock mountain, 265 metres above sea level. In the 20th century, the existence of lake was the topic of intense discussion among archaeologists. W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, a Dutch scholar and artist of Buddhist and Hindu architecture established a theory in 1931 that at one time, the Kedu Plain was a lake and initially Borobudur symbolized a lotus flower floating on the lake.



  • There isn’t any written evidence of who constructed the Borobudur. The construction period has just been estimated during the 8th and 9th centuries. Borobudur was probably founded between 760 and 830 CE during the reign of Sailendra dynasty. It is estimated that the construction took 75 years to complete in 825.
  • There is no certainty about the religion of rulers in Java at that time, whether they were Hindus or Buddhists. During this time several Buddhist and Hindu memorials were constructed around the Kedu Plain on the mountains and plains. The Hindu Shiva Prambanan temple compound and the Buddhist memorials, including Borobudur, were built around the same period.
  • At that time, construction of Buddhist temples, including Borobudur was possible since Rakai Panangkaran, Sanjaya's immediate successor allowed Buddhist to construct such places of worship. Rakai Panangkaran donated the village of Kalasan to the Buddhist community.

Borobudur Indonesia

Borobudor Indonesia


  • For centuries, Borobudur remained unseen under covers of jungle growth and volcanic ash. The most likely period of abandonment was between 928 and 1006 when King Mpu Sindok shifted his capital to East Java.


  • After its seisure, Java was under British rule from 1811 to 1816. The British governor was interested in the history of Java. During his tour of the island, he accumulated Javanese antiques and made notes after contacting local people. In 1814, during an inspection tour to Semarang he was told that there was a large memorial in a jungle nearby the village of Bumisegoro. He was unable to discover himself and sent a Dutch engineer, H.C. Cornelius, to investigate. Cornelius and his 200 men dug away the earth, burned down vegetation and cut down trees, in 2 months he uncovered the memorial. He couldn’t uncover all galleries because of the danger of collapse. He presented his report to Raffles.
  • A Dutch administrator of the Kedu region, Hartmann carried on Cornelius's work and the whole complex was eventually uncovered in 1835.
  • After that a Dutch engineer, F.C. Wilsen was appointed by the Dutch East Indies government to study the monument and prepare drawings. J.F.G. Brumund was also hired and detailed study of the memorial was finished in 1859. C. Leemans, a scholar was appointed by the government to compile a book. The 1st book on the detailed research of Borobudur was published in 1873 which was translated in French after one year. Isidore van Kinsbergen, a Dutch-Flemish engraver took the first photograph of the monument in 1873.
  • Recognition of the site developed gradually, and it was used as a source of souvenirs and income for thieves and souvenir hunters. Because of the unstable condition of the monument, the chief inspector of cultural relics suggested in 1882, to completely disassemble and relocate reliefs into museums. Consequently, the government hired an archeologist, Groenveldt, to thoroughly investigate the site and to determine the actual condition of the complex. He recommended that the complex should be left intact.
  • With colonial-government’s approval, Borobudur was regarded as the source of mementos and parts of its statues were looted. King Chulalongkorn of Siam visited Java and in 1896 he took home statues taken from Borobudur. These include a guardian statue (dvarapala), many kala motifs from the gateways and stairs, one gargoyle, two lions, five Buddha images as well as 30 pieces taken from several relief panels. A number these relics, most remarkably the giant waterspouts, makara, kala, dvarapala and lions are now in the Java Art room of The National Museum in Bangkok.


  • In 1885, Borobudur received attention when the Chairman of the Archaeological Society in Yogyakarta, Yzerman discovered the hidden foot. Photographs which disclose reliefs on the concealed foot were made in 1890 - 1891. The finding resulted in the Dutch East Indies government taking measures to protect the memorial. The government established a commission in 1900, consisting of 3 officials to evaluate the memorial: a construction engineer from the Department of Public Works, Van de Kamer, a Dutch army engineer officer, Theodoor van Erp, and an art historian, Brandes.
  • The commission presented a threefold plan of suggestion to the government in 1902. Firstly, the instant dangers must be evaded by rearranging the corners, removing stones which threatened the neighbouring parts, reinforcing the 1st balustrades as well as restoring a number of stupas, archways, niches, and the main dome. Secondly, after fencing off the yards, good maintenance must be provided and drainage must be upgraded by renovating spouts and floors. Thirdly, all loose stones must be taken away, the memorial clean up to the 1st balustrades, spoiled stones taken away and the main dome renovated. At that time, the total cost was approximated about 48,800 Dutch guilders.
  • After that Theodor van Erp led the restoration work between 1907 and 1911, using the principles of anastylosis. Digging the grounds around the memorial to discover missing Buddha heads as well as panel stones took the first 7 months of restoration. Van Erp demolished and reconstructed the stupas as well as upper 3 circular platforms. Along the way, he found new things he might do to make the monument better. He presented another suggestion, which was accepted with the additional cost of 34,600 guilders. Van Erp carefully reconstructed the chhatra pinnacle on top of the main stupa. However, later he demolished the chhatra, saying that enough original stones weren’t used in renovating the pinnacle that means that the original design of Borobudur's pinnacle is actually not known.
  • Because of the limited budget, the renovation had been primarily concentrated on cleaning the statues, and Van Erp didn’t resolve the drainage problem. The reliefs showed signs of deterioration and new cracks and the gallery walls were sagging within 15 years. Van Erp made use of concrete from which calcium hydroxide and alkali salts leached and were transferred into the rest of the construction. This created problems and for that reason, a further comprehensive restoration was urgently required.
  • Since then, small renovations have been carried out but not adequate for complete safety. During Indonesian National Revolution and Second World War, Borobudur’s renovation efforts were stopped. The monument suffered from the drainage problems as well as weather, which resulted in the earth core within the temple to grow, tilting the walls and pushing the stone structure. Some portions of Borobudur were in impending danger of collapse by 1950s. In 1965, Indonesia requested the UNESCO for guidance on methods to counter the problem of weather at Borobudur as well as other memorials. Then head of the Archeological Service of Indonesia, Professor Soekmono, launched his campaign in 1968 to organize a huge renovation project.
  • The Indonesian government requested the international community in the late 1960s, for a major restoration to protect the memorial. A master plan was prepared in 1973 to restore Borobudur. In a big restoration project, UNESCO and the Indonesian government started the complete renovation of the memorial between 1975 and 1982. The actual work started in 1975. During the restoration, more than 1 million stones were dismantled and removed and set aside to individually treat, clean, identify and catalogue for conservation. All 1,460 panels were cleaned as well as the foundation was stabilized. The renovation work involved the improvement of drainage and the dismantling of the 5 square platforms. This huge project to restore the memorial involved about 600 people and expenditure of US$ 6,901,243.
  • After the completion of renovation in 1991, UNESCO declared Borobudur as a World Heritage Site.

Borobudur Java Indonesia

Borobudur Java Indonesia

Contemporary events

Religious ceremony

  • After the major renovation in 1973 financed by UNESCO, Borobudur is again used as a site of pilgrimage and worship. During the full moon in May or June, Indonesian Buddhists observe Vesak day celebrating the birth, death, as well as the time when Siddhārtha Gautama acquired the highest wisdom to turn into the Buddha Shakyamuni. In Indonesia, Vesak is an official national holiday.


  • Borobudur is the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia.
  • Borobudur was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records in June 2012, as the biggest Buddhist archaeological site in the world.
  • Borobudur archaeological park received International tourism awards like PATA Gold Award 2012, PATA Gold Award 2011 and PATA Grand Pacific Award 2004.


  • Three particular areas of concern under the current state of preservation have been identified by UNESCO: (i) damage by visitors (ii) soil degradation in the south-eastern part and (iii) renovation as well as analysis of missing elements. Destabilisation of the structure has taken place due to heavy rains, numerous earthquakes and the soft soil. By far earthquakes are the most devastating factors, since not just arches crumble and stones fall down, but the earth itself can move, further abolishing the structure. The growing fame of the stupa attracts in many visitors, majority of whom are Indonesian. In spite of the presence of guards, the regular broadcast of notices over loudspeakers and warning signs not to touch anything, damage on statues and reliefs is a common problem, resulting to further deterioration.
  • Some severe abrasion of the stone stairs by the scraping of visitors' footwear was reported by the Conservation Authority of Borobudur in August 2014. In order to protect and cover the original stone stairs, the conservation authority planned to fix wooden stairs.

Borobudur Java Indonesia