It is the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
Not only is Borobudur the largest Pyramid-shaped Buddhist monument in the world, it is also one of the most intricately designed structures on the planet. No one knows who built it, or what its original purpose was.
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Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa with a pyramid-shaped silhouette related to the Mahāyāna tradition. Located in the Central Java province of Indonesia, forty kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta, this massive structure is the largest Buddhist monument in the world.
It is believed to have been built between 750 and 850 by the sovereigns of the Sailendra dynasty.
The name can be derived from the Sanskrit Vihara Buddha Ur, which translates as “the Buddhist temple on the mountain.”
This magnificent ancient monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
The monument is a sanctuary and one of the largest place of Buddhist pilgrimage.
The journey of the pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and continues along a path that surrounds it while ascending to the top through three levels of Buddhist cosmology.
During the trip, the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairs and corridors.
So far, scholars have not found a single piece of written evidence as to who built Borobudur, or of its original purpose.
Scholars were able to get an estimated date of the period of construction by comparing the carved reliefs at the base of the temple and the inscriptions commonly used between the eighth and ninth centuries.
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The exact reason why the ancients abandoned Borobudur remains a historical mystery.
Its architecture and design are out of this world.
The ancient temple was erected as a great stupa, and when viewed from above, it takes the form of a Buddhist mandala, which represents Buddhist cosmology and the nature of the mind. The division of the monument symbolizes the three stages of mental preparation to reach the final goal according to Buddhist cosmology, called Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and finally Arupadhatu (the world without forms).
The base of the temple is a square and measures around 118 meters on each side.
Borobudur has nine platforms, of which the lower six have a square shape and the rest are circular.
The upper platforms of the temple were built with seventy-two small stupas surrounding a larger one.
Each stupa has the shape of a bell and is decorated with different holes.
There is a Buddha statue inside each stupa.
The ancient builders of the temple used more than 55,000 m³ of stones.
The stones were cut, transported and laid without mortar. Experts believe that the ancients used slits and protuberances to assemble the stones together.
Featured image credit: Shutterstock.