Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa and temple complex
in Central Java, Indonesia dating from the 8th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is one of world’s truly great ancient monuments, the single largest Buddhist structure
anywhere on earth, and few who visit fail to be taken by both the scale of place, and
the remarkable attention to detail that went into the construction. There is no definite written record of who
built Borobudur or why it was built. It was likely founded as a religious site in the
8th century at the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java. The construction is thought
to have taken a period of 75 years, and completed in about 825 A.D. Borobudur lay abandoned and hidden for centuries
under layers of volcanic ash and thick jungle growth. Nobody knows for sure why it was abandoned,
although the popular theories are that the local population just became disinterested
when there were mass conversions to Islam in the 15th century, or they were simply driven
away by a large volcanic eruption. It was never forgotten entirely though, with local
folklore ensuring that stories of the great monument lived on. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked
in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised
of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations.
Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak
at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. Borobudur is built as a single large stupa,
and when viewed from above takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously
representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind.