The Borobudur Temple Compound which adorned the 10,000 rupiahs 1992 Indonesian banknote is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.
Built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty, this Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.
For centuries, Borobudur lay hidden under layers of volcanic ash. Some scholars believe that famine caused by an eruption of Mount Merapi forced the inhabitants of Central Java to leave their lands behind in search of a new place to live. The British Lieutenant Governor of Java, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, only rediscovered the site in 1814 upon hearing reports from islanders of an incredible sanctuary deep within the island’s interior.
The site was cleared in 1835 and some efforts were made to restore and preserve the colossal monument since then. Though the temple was designed in Javanese Buddhist architecture, the temple manifests the influences of Gupta art and Indian culture on the region.
In 1968 Professor Soekmono, then head of the Archaeological Service of Indonesia, launched his "Save Borobudur" campaign, in an effort to organize a massive restoration project. A restoration program was undertaken between 1973 and 1984 which returned much of the complex to its former glory, and the site has since become a destination of Buddhist pilgrimage. In 1968 an Indonesian stamp was issued promoting restoration of Borobudur.
The aesthetic and technical mastery of Borobudur, and also its sheer size, has evoked the sense of grandeur and pride for Indonesians. Just like Angkor Wat for Cambodian, Borobudur has become a powerful symbol for Indonesia — to testify for its past greatness. And it is on us to preserve such architectural feats of mankind!
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