Borobudur Temple

One of world’s truly great ancient monuments, Borobudur is the single largest Buddhist structure anywhere on earth. Few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale and the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. Situated in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama.

Borobudur was constructed in the eight century, when the Sailendra dynasty had reached the height of power in Java. Borobudur is made up of six different platforms, and at the top of it all is a large dome. Multiple wall reliefs add interest, and there are over 500 statues of Buddha in varying positions and styles throughout the complex.

Borobudur Entrance

Part of what makes Borobudur such an appealing destination is its mysterious history. Although its roots are certainly in the eighth century, it was abandoned for centuries. There is no real explanation for the abandonment of such an incredible collection of temples, but the result was that the temples were hidden under lush jungle overgrowth and even volcanic ash for hundreds of years. When Java was under Dutch rule in the 19th century, Borobudur was rediscovered, got a major restoration and became the iconic landmark it is today.

Stupas in Borobudur Park

If you’re planning to visit Borobudur, you might want to start the adventure at one of the two museums located within the expansive Borobudur Archaeological Park. Both the Samudraraksa Museum and the Karmawibhanga Museum offer archeological findings related to the temple, panels that might have belonged to the temple and artwork related to Borobudur. Additionally, there are several restaurants and cafes in and around the area of Borobudur, and near the entrance of the temple is a maze of souvenir and handicraft stalls.

Bas-reliefs of Borobudur

Bas-reliefs of Borobudur

You should also spend some time seeking out the most iconic wall reliefs, many of which tell a story. Look for the law of karma relief series, known as Karmavibhangga, the 27 panels that form the birth of Buddha, or Lalitavistara, and the Gandavyuha, which shows Sudhana searching for truth on Earth.