Borobudur, a nine terraced temple complex in central Java, Indonesia

Borobudur, a nine terraced temple complex in central Java, Indonesia

Borobudur is an ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex in central Java, Indonesia.

Built over a period of some 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries by the kingdom of Sailendra, constructed out of an estimated 1,600,000 blocks of volcanic stone, dredged from the river and assembled solely by human labor, the nine-terraced temple is a representation of the transition towards nirvana and is famed for its 1,500 intricately carved reliefs, covering a total length of five kilometers end-to-end.

The volcanic Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes on Java, can be seen steaming on the horizon directly north of the site.

The first archaeological study of the site was initiated in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. First restored in 1907, the monument suffered from neglect and war and was once more in effect rebuilt in the 1970s under the guidance of UNESCO, who designated Borobudur as a World Heritage Site. The massive restoration process involved the removal and refurbishing of over one million blocks, rebuilding the foundation and adding drainage systems.

The only practical means of getting around is on foot. A toy train of limited practical use shuttles around the temple and between museum and entrance gate for Rp 5,000 a throw.


Insider travel tip:

On Waisak, Buddha's birthday (held on the night of the full moon in May), an elaborate and colorful multi-day Buddhist festival is held at Borobudur, culminating in a candle-lit procession from Candi Mendut to Borobudur.