Exploring the Spiritual Significance of Candi Borobudur, Southeast Asia’s Largest Buddhist Temple

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Candi Borobudur is one of the largest and most recognizable Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. It is situated in Central Java, Indonesia, and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its spiritual, historical, and cultural significance.

The History of Candi Borobudur

According to Buddhist scriptures, a powerful king named Samaratungga ordered the construction of Candi Borobudur in the 8th century. He wanted to create a monument that celebrated the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha and showcase the principles of Buddhism to the world.

It took almost 75 years and thousands of workers to complete the massive temple complex, which consists of nine stacked platforms and 72 stupas.

The Spiritual Significance of Candi Borobudur

Candi Borobudur is more than just a monument – it is a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists all over the world. The temple complex represents the journey to enlightenment, with each level signifying different stages of spiritual awakening.

At the base of the temple, visitors can see reliefs that depict daily life in 8th century Java. As visitors ascend the levels, they are greeted with more intricate reliefs that tell the story of the Buddha’s life and teachings.

At the top level of Candi Borobudur, visitors will find a large central stupa, surrounded by 72 smaller stupas. The central stupa represents the ultimate goal of Buddhism – the attainment of Nirvana.

The Symbolism of Candi Borobudur

Candi Borobudur is full of symbolism that reinforces the messages of Buddhism. The many reliefs and carvings found throughout the temple complex depict various aspects of Buddhist philosophy, including the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the Wheel of Life.

The reliefs also show the consequences of bad karma, including rebirth into the lower realms of existence.

The Experience of Visiting Candi Borobudur

Visiting Candi Borobudur is a deeply spiritual and moving experience. The sheer size and complexity of the temple complex are awe-inspiring, and visitors can spend hours exploring the various levels and reliefs.

Many visitors choose to come to Candi Borobudur early in the morning, to witness the temple complex come alive with the colors of the rising sun. They can also participate in traditional Buddhist ceremonies at the temple, such as chanting and meditation.

Protecting Candi Borobudur

Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Candi Borobudur faces several threats, including pollution, erosion, and natural disasters. The Indonesian government, along with international organizations, is working to preserve and protect the temple complex for future generations.


Candi Borobudur is a stunning monument to Buddhist philosophy and spirituality. Its spiritual significance, symbolism, and history make it a valuable site for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. If you haven’t yet visited Candi Borobudur, it should definitely be on your travel bucket list.

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