Borobudur… the city of Buddhas



Borobudur is one of the premier reasons for me to visit Indonesia. We live in a difficult time where all over the world, lots of destructive powers have grown destroying the humanity and civilisation. I admit, I fear  after 10 years, this ancient temple may cease to exist .  It is not only the largest Buddhist temple of the world, numerous Hindu inscriptions are depicted on the nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome..  it is a documentation extension of Hindu civilization from far corners of the world.










Reaching Borobudur is easy, if you are already in Indonesia. Domestic flights are cheap and connected to Yogyakarta.  From the airport you can take a bus or hire a car, cost is almost same. The ticket costs 25 USD but students have a discount so do not forget to carry your student ID card. Please carry water bottle and umbrella, sun can be cruel on the top and heat strokes do occurs.






In this post, I have shown only the architecture, the inscription will take a whole new post as there is so much to see and explain. 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. It is unimaginable how a  total of 72,000 cubic yards of stone were quarried nearby, carved and fitted together on site without mortar, built following the rules of Vastu Shastra, using the technology of the Indian stone-carving tradition.


Building if the temple corresponds to the period between 760 and 830 CE, the peak of the Sailendra dynasty rule of Mataram kingdom in central Java. The construction has been estimated to have taken 75 years and was completed during the reign of Samaratungga in 825.  The Sailendras were known as ardent followers of Buddhism, though stone inscriptions found at Sojomerto suggest they may have been Hindus. It was during this time that many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were built on the plains and mountains around the Kedu Plain. The Buddhist monuments, including Borobudur, were erected around the same period as the Hindu Shiva Prambanan temple compound. In 732 CE, the Shivaite King Sanjaya commissioned a Shivalinga sanctuary to be built on the Wukir hill, only 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Borobudur.





IMG_5971 IMG_5788



Construction Borobudur was possible because Sanjaya’s immediate successor, Rakai Panangkaran, granted his permission to the Buddhist followers to build such temples. In fact, to show his respect, Panangkaran gave the village of Kalasan to the Buddhist community, as is written in the Kalasan Charter dated 778 CE.  In fact, if you look into the history of Buddhism, it is evolved from Hinduism and there never have been big conflicts between the two except in the reign of few Kings.








Now the biggest question remains how the heads of many buddha statues have been systematically cut off?  “Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. The facts behind its abandonment remain a mystery” says wiki pedia!  But if you go to the temple and see, it is unbelievable that huge structure had been hidden. Why the volcano will destroy the head of buddhas this clean?  If you read history of jihad in Indonesia, sources clearly tell>”Before being overrun by Islam, the people of Malaysia and Indonesia were overwhelmingly Hindu and Buddhists. In fact what are today the ASEAN countries had one religion (a mix of Hinduism-Buddhism-Animism) and one culture till the 15th century. They did not look upon themselves as different countries”.








The bas reliefs of Borobudur and the inscriptions clearly derived from the ancient Sanskrit. I was intrigued by the observation and searched internet for some answer. Here is what I got, source:

When the Buddhists first encountered the Muslims in Central Asia and Afghanistan (remember the Bamiyan Buddhas?), the Buddhist reaction was no reaction at all. The Buddhists tamely submitted to the Muslims. No they did not embrace Islam en masse; they just gave themselves up for being slaughtered en masse by the Muslims. The Buddhists were one of those few who accepted the “Death Option” from the Muslims’ offer of “Islam or Death”. Hence the Buddhists simply perished in the first flush of Muslim onslaught against them. Many of the Buddhists never learned to resist the Muslims. Even when the Muslims raided famous Buddhist Universities like Nalanda in India’s Bihar province, the Buddhists died en masse when the Muslim swordsmen slaughtered them like hyena would devour a clutch of rabbits in a cage. The Buddhists also did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story!”









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30 thoughts on “Borobudur… the city of Buddhas

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  1. Maybe it’s because I overheated in the sun earlier today but I rather imagine the Bhudda in the first two photos is chilling in his own wading pool.

    Lovely photos of a fascinating place!

    Liked by 1 person

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