Borobudur Temple Compounds
I’ve decided to stay for three days at the Princess Manohara Hotel, located within the Borobudur Park. The clients of this hotel have free access to the monument during the day. The room wasn’t cheap; actually it was the most expensive room in the whole Central Java region, but the opportunity to live only a hundred meters away, not to pay for the entrance and have a breakfast almost at the foot of the Borobudur Temple Compounds is a good deal.
The most significant historical monument of all 17,000 islands of Indonesia – Borobudur. This Buddhist temple was built in the 8th century AD, and is the largest historical Buddhist temple in the world. It was erected as a huge square stupa, made in the form of a mandala. At the stupa there are eight levels: the lower five are square shaped, and the top three are round.
Three levels symbolize the seat of the three areas – Kamadhatu (sphere of desire), Rupadhatu (sphere of forms) and Arupadhatu (sphere without forms). The Kamadhatu level is hidden under the ground and is not visible to visitors. The first 120 panels of the sphere of forms tell stories from the life of Gautama Buddha. Some of the panels show Bodhisattvas, the Buddhist saints, wandering in search of wisdom.
The following panels tell the stories of the classic Buddhist canons of the previous lives of the Buddha in the form of folklore. In this case, the Buddha is portrayed as a god, a king, an ordinary man or even in the form of animals, such as, a lion, a deer, a monkey, a swan and a turtle. Each rebirth of Buddha shows his generosity and compassion. These stories disclose all the main Buddhist principles in a simple way.
The highest level corresponds to Arupadhatu (sphere without forms), represented by three circular terraces above. The upper tier holds 72 small stupas around a large central one in the shape of a bell – the principle of wisdom. Inside the stupas are statues of Buddha.
You may wonder why the biggest Buddhist temple was built in Indonesia, away from its homeland – India? In the 8th century on the fertile island of Java powerful agrarian kingdoms and empires had been significantly influenced by the culture of India. In Java, the local Hindu dynasties replaced the Buddhist ones and vice versa, and each dynasty tried to perpetuate their faith with colossal monuments to prove its advantage over rival dynasties. Thus, arose the largest Buddhist temple Borobudur and the largest Hindu temple of the world at the time – Prambanan, but that’s a whole new story.