The Fascinating History of Candi Borobudur: From Buddhist Pilgrimage Site to Tourist Attraction
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Candi Borobudur is a remarkable monument located in central Java, Indonesia. This ancient temple was built during the 8th and 9th centuries and is known as the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It is an impressive feat of engineering and a testament to the cultural and religious diversity that exists in Indonesia today. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of Candi Borobudur and how it has evolved from a Buddhist pilgrimage site to a popular tourist attraction.
The temple compound of Candi Borobudur covers an area of approximately 123×123 meters and consists of 10 levels – 6 square platforms and 3 different circular levels. The monument’s form follows a step pyramid, in which the higher levels are reached via four staircases on cardinal points. The temple is constructed using over 2 million stone blocks with intricate carvings in each of them. These carvings depict various Buddhist stories and teachings, from the Four Noble Truths to the attainment of Nirvana.
The construction of Candi Borobudur began during the reign of the Sailendra dynasty, who ruled central Java at that time. The temple remained the center of Buddhist worship in the region until the decline of the Sailendra dynasty in the 10th century. After that, the temple was abandoned and slowly forgotten for centuries, covered by volcanic ash until its rediscovery in the 19th century.
In 1814, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who was serving as the governor-general of Java, received information about an ancient monument covered by volcanic ash. He immediately asked his subordinate, Cornelius, to conduct a survey and monitor the site. A year later, the excavation of Candi Borobudur began, and the monument was gradually restored. This process took many years, and finally, in 1983, Candi Borobudur was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ever since its restoration, Candi Borobudur has become a significant pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from countries like Thailand, Japan, and Sri Lanka visit the temple to pay homage and participate in religious ceremonies. The Indonesian government has also included it as one of the tourist attractions that acts as a cultural ambassador of Indonesia.
Apart from its religious significance, Candi Borobudur is also a popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world. Visitors can marvel at the intricate carvings and climb up to the top of the temple, from where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding scenery. The temple’s unique design and architectural brilliance have earned it a place on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World.
In conclusion, Candi Borobudur is a magnificent monument that bears testament to the rich cultural history of Indonesia. It is not only an impressive feat of engineering but a remarkable symbol of Indonesia’s religious and cultural diversity. From a forgotten temple buried in volcanic ash to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction, Candi Borobudur has undergone many transformations throughout its long history. It is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in history, religion, or architecture, and visiting it should be on everyone’s bucket list.