Candi (the Indonesian word for temple) Borobudur is a Buddhist temple built in 9th century and listed as one of Indonesia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its location and significance became known worldwide when Sir Stamford Raffles paid attention to it in 1814. Since then, it has become a famous destination for travelers and archaeologists and is now the country’s most visited tourist spot. I’m always fascinated with ancient ruins and historical structures and to see this temple is one of the main reasons why we chose Indonesia as our travel destination for the Christmas holiday.
Borobudur’s grounds are vast and it is the only towering structure in the area. We walked through a long bricked pathway surrounded by manicured lawns towards the main façade of the temple. The day we visited coincided with education trips of young students so the site was a little crowded. Nevertheless, the sight of the temple was as imposing and grand as I have imagined it from afar.
We climbed a series of steps and each level has narrow corridors of wall reliefs portraying the story of Siddharta Gautama. Walking around the temple walls was akin to retracing the life of Buddha and it’s just humbling to think how faith can make wonders and inspire people to build structure such as this. The reconstruction of this temple is simply amazing but some additions are slightly visible against the original stones used.
At the top of the temple are stupas that seemingly serve as cages for Buddha statues (except for an open one). Out of the 504 original statues, 43 are gone missing and the remaining 300 are mostly damaged. These statues are headless as heads have been stolen because these are considered the most intricate and valuable part of a statue. Interestingly, the statues are not all similar as each has its own hand gesture or mudra. Visitors are not allowed to sit near or lean on the stupas for these are considered very sacred, I guess.
We stayed until closing time and I left feeling grateful for the opportunity to see for myself one of humanity’s important heritages from the past. I also reflected that sometimes, religion cannot just be a source of difference because people from all different backgrounds can appreciate the beauty and purpose of this structure. I am Christian and my husband is Hindu but we agree that this Buddhist symbol of faith is equally moving as those of our own religions.