History of Borobudur
Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa related to the Mahayana tradition, and is the largest Buddhist monument on earth. It is located in the Indonesian province of Central Java, it's located 42 kilometers north-west of Yogyakarta. It was built between 750 and 850 CE by the Javanese rulers of the Sailendra dynasty. The name of Borobudur may derive from the Sanskrit "Vihara Buddha Ur", which can be liberally translated as "the Buddhist temple on the mountain". Another theory suggests that the name originally was "Bhara Beduhur", an Old Javanese expression for "The temple on the hill". It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Indonesia.
General overview Buddha in an open stupa, Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and viewed from above takes the form of a giant mandala. The foundation is a square, 122 metres on each side. It has nine levels, of which the lower six are square and the upper three circular. This is said to be a map of the cosmos as conceptualized by the Buddhist philosophers of the time. The upper level features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is a bell shape pierced by numerous decorative apertures. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures. Borobudur is still a place of prayer and pilgrimage. Pilgrims circumambulate each level seven times in a clockwise direction called Pradaksina. The stupas on the topmost level contain statues of the Buddha in various poses. According to local folklore, touching the finger and toe of a particular Buddha through the holes in the stupa wall brings good luck.
Construction The monument was constructed with approximately 55,000 m3 of Andesite stone, taken from neighbouring rivers, built on top of a hill. These stones were cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar. Knobs, indentations and dovetails were used to make joints between stones. Reliefs, which covers about 2,500 m2 of the wall surface are 1260 reliefs, were created after the building had been completed. This building technique was similar with other Java temples. The main vertical structure can be divided into 3 groups: base, body and top. According to the budhist cosmology there are Kamadatu, Rupadatu and Arupadathu. The base is a 123x123 m2 square in size and 4 m high of walls. The body is composed of 5 terraces. Each with diminishing heights. The first terrace stands back 7 m from the edge of the base. The other terraces retreats only 2 m, leaving a narrow corridor in each stage. The top consists of 3 circular platforms, with each stage supports a row of perforated stupas, arranged in concentric circles. In the center, there is one giant stupa, which its dome has elevation of 35 m above the ground level. Access to the upper part is provided by stairways at each middle side. The main entrance is at the eastern side, where it is the beginning of the narrative relief. In total, there are 9 levels of this monument. The designer of Borobudur has thought of the drainage system, because the area has a high precipitation throughout the year. To avoid being flooded by rain water, 100 spouts were provided at each corner with a unique carved gargoyles (makaras).
Site selection In the 1940s, the Dutch artist Nieuwenkamp suggested that Borobudur in fact represented the Buddha on a lotus leaf, and that thus had likely been built on a lake. In 1949, geologists found clay sediments near the site, which they interpreted as a remnant of a lake bed. They suggested that the lake may have been created by the eruption of a nearby volcano, Mount Merapi, either circa 1006 CE or much earlier. However, it was not at all clear whether the lake dried up before the stupa was built, or the site pre-dated a lake, which was an accident of nature. More recent research indicates that a lake existed in the area as recently as between the 12th and 14th centuries, validating the earlier supposition that Borobudur was built as an aquatic lotus symbol, seen as floating on the adjoining lake.
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