The Fascinating History of Candi Borobudur: Tracing the Legacy of Ancient Java

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Candi Borobudur is one of the most impressive and extraordinary ancient monuments in Indonesia. It is an intricate, multi-level temple located in Java, Indonesia, and traces its roots all the way back to the 8th century. The temple is widely regarded as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and it is no surprise that it is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The Origins of Candi Borobudur

The temple was built by the Shailendra dynasty between AD 750 and 850. It was allegedly constructed over a period of 75 years, with the help of hundreds of thousands of workers. The temple is estimated to have used around two million blocks of stone, many of which were brought from nearby rivers.

Significance of the Temple

Candi Borobudur is one of the most significant Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. The temple was designed to represent the Buddhist cosmology, with the three levels of the temple representing the three stages of enlightenment in Buddhism – Kamadhatu (world of desire), Rupadhatu (world of forms), and Arupadhatu (world of formlessness).

Architecture and Design

The temple is built entirely from dark-grey andesite stone, which has been intricately carved and fitted together without the use of any mortar. It is designed to be a giant mandala, with the main stupa at the center of the temple representing Nirvana. The temple is surrounded by 72 stone stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha.

The Rediscovery of Candi Borobudur

The temple was abandoned in the 14th century and was forgotten for centuries before it was rediscovered by British colonialists in 1814. The temple was covered in jungle, and the British spent several decades clearing the site and restoring the temple to its former glory.

Candi Borobudur Today

Today, Candi Borobudur is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Indonesia. It has been restored and preserved, and visitors can visit the temple and learn about its fascinating history and significance. It is also a site of religious pilgrimage, and Buddhists from around the world visit the temple to pay their respects.

The Legends and Myths of Candi Borobudur

There are many legends and myths associated with Candi Borobudur. One myth suggests that the temple was built by a mythical king who wished to create a temple to rival the great pyramids of Egypt. Another legend claims that the temple was built by a Hindu prince named Gunadharma, who converted to Buddhism and built the temple as a way to demonstrate his devotion to his new religion.

Purpose of construction

The exact purpose of the temple’s construction is not known for certain. Some experts believe that the temple was designed as a place of meditation, while others believe that it was built as a shrine to the Buddhist deities. Whatever the temple’s original purpose, it is clear that it is a remarkable achievement of ancient engineering and design.

The ‘Hidden’ Temples of Candi Borobudur

Candi Borobudur is not just one temple, but a complex of temples, including a number of smaller temples that are not as well-known as the main temple. These ‘hidden’ temples include Candi Mendut, Candi Pawon, and Candi Canggal. These temples are also fascinating to explore and offer visitors an insight into the rich cultural heritage of Java.

The Myth of Borobudur’s Curse

There is a well-known myth that surrounds Candi Borobudur – the myth of the temple’s curse. According to legend, a powerful priest placed a curse on the temple, declaring that the temple would suffer from misfortune and destruction if ever it was used for anything other than its original purpose. While this curse may be nothing more than a myth, it has contributed to the mystery and intrigue that surrounds the temple.

The Meander Relief

One of the most famous parts of Candi Borobudur is the Meander Relief. This intricate relief, which covers the walls of the temple, depicts a wide range of scenes from Buddhist texts and other ancient myths. The relief is incredibly detailed and offers visitors an insight into the religious and cultural beliefs of the people who built the temple.

The Borobudur Temple Festival

Each year, the Borobudur Temple Festival is held at Candi Borobudur, offering visitors the opportunity to experience traditional Javanese culture and take part in a range of exciting cultural events. The festival includes music, dance, and other cultural performances, as well as a range of religious ceremonies.

The Dieng Plateau

Those visiting Candi Borobudur should also make the effort to see the nearby Dieng Plateau. This beautiful plateau is home to a range of ancient temples and other historic landmarks, and offers visitors the chance to explore the natural beauty of Java.

Protecting Candi Borobudur

As one of the world’s most important cultural landmarks, it is essential that Candi Borobudur is protected and preserved. The Indonesian government has implemented a range of measures to safeguard the temple and ensure that it remains an important part of Indonesia’s cultural heritage for generations to come.


Candi Borobudur is a truly remarkable temple, and one of the greatest cultural and heritage landmarks in Indonesia. Its history is fascinating, and its intricate design is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the people who built it. Those who visit Candi Borobudur are sure to be captivated by its beauty, history, and significance.

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