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A ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Indonesia.

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The Largest Buddhist Monument in the World

  • Feb 8, 2010
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Chinese New Year is just around the corner & it's been known that most Chinese are Buddhists. But, do you know that the Biggest Buddhist Monument in the world is right in Indonesia & not jb China or India? Do you also know that in the 8th century the Sailendras (Srivijayan Empire) were Buddhist? ie Historically, Indonesians were not Muslim! Interesting, isn't it?

- the pride & legacy of the Indonesian people. Acclaimed as one of the wonders of the world, this largest Buddhist temple in the world was left buried & unknown until only very recently after being excavated & restored by UNESCO. Built sometime between 750 & 850 AD by the Sailendra dynasty, Borobudur in Sanskrit meaning Buddhist monastery on the hill. (Well, at least that's what Lonely Planet claims.)

Being an Indonesian, this wonder of the world held a special fascination for me. It's somewhat like one's birthright. When I was a child, I read many story books about the Javanese rulers & their dynasties. I remembered being mesmerized by them all though now I couldn't really recall all the details. All I can say is they are all very exotic & fascinating, somewhat like one's visit to Bali. Enchantment probably best described the feelings.

When I visited Borobudur, it was with the thought & marvel that this was built at a time when modern machinery had not been invented. Belief in itself is power & I witnessed this in Borobudur. Knowledge is also power & again I witnessed it here. Faith is something which one can't help but see it here! For me, that instil something deep in the heart which even if it's only for a day, it has changed my course of journey in this world.


I visited Borobudur with a friend in the early 90s and the memories linger well beyond. Borobudur is a sight to be marveled at. It also has an interesting story to accompany the monument. When you are there make sure you get a good guide to show you what each carved relief on the wall means. I had a great time learning something new about Mahayana Buddhism. Without a good guide, one loses out quite a bit of the history and cultural aspect of this architecture.

Borobudur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a site which I think worthy of being a Wonder of the World!

Borobudur is 40 km northwest of Yogyakarta. It is between 2 twin volcanoes.
We visited during the month of Ramayana when the Muslim were fasting & we got lucky & managed to catch the Ramayana 'ballet' dancing at Prambanan Temple. It is a great show which I enjoyed tremendously back then. A must-see to complete the cultural experience of a visit to Indonesia.

Prambanan Temple
The Prambanan Temple is in the same city as Borobudur. Although Borobudur is of Buddhist origin, Prambanan is of Hindu's. Prambanan is a mere 18 km from the city of Yogyakarta and a short drive away. As with Borobudur, it is best to visit in the morning as the noon sun is really scotching. 

My most memorable trip to the Prambanan was of that of the Ramayana ballet dancing which was staged for 4 nights when we were there (it is also staged every full moon night). Wikipedia.org has great detail about the many temples found in this compound. I shall not repeat them here but should you be interested, here's all about Prambanan.

The Largest Buddhist Monument in the World The Largest Buddhist Monument in the World

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February 14, 2012
The restoration is amazing.
February 27, 2012
Yes, indeed! Some of the architecture from the ancient civilizations like those of Maya, Inca and the Cambodians are truly interesting. If you've a chance, check them out! I'm sure you'll enjoy them a great deal!
February 27, 2012
I will if the resources to do so ever come my way.
March 16, 2011
I did a research paper of Borobudur WAY back in the college days. Never seen it (I'm not all that world traveled, though I'm trying to get together a trip to Thailand with some friends maybe next year) except in pictures, but it looks just amazing.
March 18, 2011
It is indeed, especially with the dormant volcano in its background!
January 04, 2011
Indonesia also has some impressive Hindu complexes. Prambanan is also on my list of places to visit in Indonesia.
February 27, 2012
Prambanan is just around the corner. It can be done on the same trip! I did visit it when I was there.
February 08, 2010
Excellent pictures, makes me want to go for a visit. Great job
February 09, 2010
Hope you'll get to visit one day! It's truly a wonderful architecture and one of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
February 08, 2010
Very cool, I did not know that that largest Buddhist monument in the world was in Indonesia, but knowing the history of Buddhism, I'm not too surprised!  In one of my religion classes in college, I learned about a temple that contains Buddha's relics, I wonder if this is the place...  Great review, Sharrie, and I love those pictures! :)
February 09, 2010
There is a lot of different & interesting aspects to this architecture; in the construction, in the way a visitor experiences the religious reliefs going through the compound itself & also in its mysterious disappearance and rediscovery again in recent history. The most interesting part is that in each of the narrative panels, it tells the story of karmic law, biography of Buddha and Enlightenment. The setting of the monument is just as unique. You'll have to read it in either the Lonely planet guide or Wikipedia to truly get a glimpse of all there is to Borobudur. I do not think the stupas contain any Buddha's relics; there are a few hundred Buddha's statues in those stupas though.
More Borobudur reviews
Quick Tip by . February 08, 2010
A monument and architecture worthy of being a wonder of the world!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #3
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.

The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and thebalustrades.

Evidence suggests Borobudur was abandoned following the fourteenth century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and theJavanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the thenBritish ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage ...

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