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REMARKABLE RUINS – Borobudur, Indonesia

Borobudur

Located in Kedu Valley, Central Java of Indonesia, Borobudur is the largest Mahayana Buddhist temple, as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. The huge archaeological marvel was built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty. In fact, it was built 400 years before the construction of the great Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Standing on the top of a hill and surrounded by lush greenery, the temple proudly proclaims the influences of the Gupta architecture spreading over an enormous area. The entire monument was built with the help of Lego Blocks, without the use of mortar. Instead, Knobs and wood made joinery were used by the builders for joining the massive stones. It is said that, the name Borobudur originated from the Sanskrit language, which means ‘Vihara Buddha Uhr’ or Buddhist Monastery.

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The monument consists of six square and three circular stacked platforms, crowned by a central dome. The temple is adorned with 2,672 relief panels along with 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated Stupa. The three levels of the temple are said to be symbolic of Buddhist cosmology. They are called, Kamadhatu (the world of desire), Rupdhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades.

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In all probability, Borobudur was abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the subsequent  Javanese conversion to Islam. It was hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. It was accidentally discovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who, during his visit in Semarang, received a report about the discovery of a hill with many carved stones. He was also intimated with the fact that, the local inhabitants believe the hill to be the site of an ancient monument called  ‘Budur’. Raffles then commissioned a team, with Cornelius as the leader, to investigate the hill. Finally, the site was cleared in 1835. Some efforts were made to restore and preserve the colossal monument since then.  A  proper program of restoration was undertaken between 1973 and 1984, which returned much of the complex to its former glory. The site has since become a destination of Buddhist pilgrimage. In 1991, Borobudur was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

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Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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