Amazing Facts About Indonesia's Architectural Pride - the Borobudur
Borobudur is a magnificent Buddhist temple located near Magelang in Java, Indonesia. This architectural monument is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.
Here are some interesting facts about Borobudur.
1.) "Borobudur Temple" is locally known as Candi Borobudur and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
2.) The builder of Borobudur is unknown and so for its intended purpose. It is estimated that its construction started before 800 CE.
3.) It is further estimated that the construction of Borobudur took 75 years and was completed in 825 CE during the reign of Samaratungga.
4.) Borobudur is a unique temple located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes and two rivers.
5.) Most temples were built on a flat surface while Borobudur was built on a bedrock hill located 265 m above sea level and 15 m above the floor of a dried-out paleolake.
6.) Borobudur is situated in the direct vicinity of Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes and has been very active since the Pleistocene.
7.) This amazing architectural monument comprises 6 square platforms topped by 3 circular platforms and is decorated with 504 Buddha statues and 2,672 relief panels.
8.) The main dome of Borobudur is located at the center of the top platform and is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.
9.) An annual journey is celebrated in Borobudur. The monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.
10.) It was only in 1814 that Borobudur started to gained worldwide attention and fame through the efforts of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles when Java was under British rule.
11.) In the early 1900s, during the restoration of Borobudur, it was discovered that the 3 Buddhist temples in the region – Borobudur, Mendut and Pawon, are lined in one straight line position.
12.) Between 928 and 1006 CE, Borobudur was abandoned because the center of power moved to East Java. Soon after a series of volcanic eruptions took places and left Borobudur hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth.
13.) In 1814, a team of 200 men cut down trees, cleared vegetation and dug away the earth to reveal the monument in two months.
14.) The first photograph and the first monograph of the detailed study of Borobudur were published in 1873.
15.) A major renovation of Borobudur was funded by UNESCO took place in 1973. Once again, this architectural wonder is used as a place of worship and pilgrimage.
16.) Vesak, an official Indonesian national holiday, is a ceremony that is centered at the 3 Buddhist temples in Borobudur region by walking from Mendut to Pawon and end up in Borobudur.
17.) Borobodor, Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction is visited by 2.5 million visitors annually.
18.) Nine stupas were badly damaged by intentional bombings in 1985 which was masterminded by a Muslim preacher.
19.) A major earthquake struck the region in 2006 causing damages around the area and casualties in nearby area but Borobudur was left undamaged.
20.) During the eruption of Mount Merapi in November 2010, a layer of ash up to 2.5 centimeters fell on the temple statues. The ashfall also killed the nearby vegetation forcing Borobudur to close for 5 days.
21.) This extraordinary structure is built as a single large stupa. An aerial view of Borobudur shows the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind.
22.) The square foundation of Borobudur is about 118 meters on each side and has 9 platforms, of which the upper 3 are circular and the lower 6 are square.
23.) The upper platform features 72 small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.
24.) Enormous amount of stones, approximately 55,000 cubic meters, used in the construction of Borobudur were taken from neighboring rivers. The stone was cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar.
25.) Borobudur is equipped with superb drainage system to avoid flooding. And to avoid inundation, 100 spouts are provided at each corner with uniquely carved gargoyles in the shape of giants.
26.) The main vertical structure of Borobudur is divided into 3 groups: base, body and top, which resembles the 3 major division of a human body. The base is a 123 × 123 m square in size and 4 meters high of walls.
27.) The body is composed of five square platforms each with diminishing heights. The first terrace is set back 7 meters from the edge of the base. The other terraces are set back by 2 meters, leaving a narrow corridor at each stage.
28.) The top consists of three circular platforms, with each stage supporting a row of perforated stupas, arranged in concentric circles.
29.) The main dome of Borobudur is located at the center; the top of which is the highest point of the monument which is 35 meters above ground level.
30.) The basic unit measurement used in the construction of the monument was called tala – the length of a human face from the forehead’s hairline to the tip of the chin or the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger when both fingers are stretched at their maximum distance.
31.) The upper part of the temple can be reached through stairways at the centre of each four sides with a number of arched gates, watched by a total of 32 lion statues.
32.) The gates of Borobudur are adorned with Kala’s head carved on top center of each portal with Makaras or giants projecting from each side.
33.) A hidden structure under the base was accidentally discovered in 1885. The ‘hidden foot’ contains reliefs, 160 of which are narrative describing the real Kamadhatu.
34.) Borobudur contains approximately 2,670 individual bas-reliefs, 1,460 of which are narrative and 1,212 are decorative panels which cover the balustrades and facades.
35.) The total relief surface is 2,500 square meters and they are distributed at the hidden foot or Kamadhatu and the five square platforms or Rupadhatu.
36.) In total, there are 432 Buddha statues at the Rupadhatu level. Of the original 504 Buddha statues, over 300 are damaged and 43 are missing.
37.) Most of the damaged Buddha statues are headless and since the discovery of Borobudur, heads have been stolen as collector’s items, mostly by Western museums.
38.) The major restoration of Borobudur from 1975 to 1982 involved around 600 people and cost a total of $6.9 million dollars.