Borobudur temple, the biggest Buddhist temple and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is full of story of life, built with great effort in fifty years.
Your first impression when seeing the huge temple could be as great as Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles' when he discovered the temple in 1814 and decided to restore it then. Except the circumstances are different. It was alone, abandoned in the darkness of the jungle, in ruins and debris, with molds and cracks infected the stones, and heads of Buddha statues lied around in the waist-high weed. It was its mystical charm that appealed Raffles to come and come again, to bring more legend into the light.
Now, almost two centuries from the time, Borobudur still stands mightily, revealing a lot of stories and teachings on its walls of the lower terraces. The appearance of course, much grander than before, with clear sky above, the Merapi volcano at the background, and a pretty garden in front of it.
The temple, or what natives call "candi" (read: chandi), consists of four square lower terraces and three circular mounting ones. King Samaratungga from the dynasty of Sailendra built it in the 8th century. It stands about 34.5 meters high, and occupies around 15,000 square meters of the land.
How would two or three hundred people set more than two million blocks of andesite from the lowest terrace to its pinnacle? Yet, not a single manuscript explaining about the process found. Several improvements should have been made during the building process, such as, once in the year of 800, the northern face couldn't bear the heaviness of the top terraces and collapsed. An enlargement of groundwork was added to fix the problem.
In the three top circular terraces of the temple, there are the bell-shaped, perforated stupas, where the Buddha statues sit in their different hand positions. There is one which is superstitiously believed by local visitors, if somebody could touch this Kunta Bima's hand, he would bring in your wish. Apparently it isn't an easy thing to do. You have to make a great effort, sweating under the sun, reaching your hand into the stupa.
The bell-shaped construction was assumed to be similarly built like those of Indian and Babylon ziggurat. Ziggurat represents the next world and the biggest stupa on the top was intended to a transitory resting place for the deities, before they acquire their apposite home.
The opinion of a candi functioned to store the ash of a royal family's cremated body crossed Raffles' mind when he revealed the temple. A candi, according to an expert Prof. R. Soekmono, for some reasons can also be acknowledged as the second palace of the deceased to unite his or her resurrection divine being. Yet Borobudur's stupa was meant to heave Buddha and Dharmaya into their homeland. With no relic found at the main stupa, the assumption could be true and the part depicts the formlessness, but no one never knew, since Raffles' found it mugged when discovered in 1814.
The Sailendra dynasty with Indra as the king (Samaratunga's father) had built Borobudur with ten floors resembling ten levels of Bodhisatva to undergo to become a sincere Buddha. Square form from the first to the sixth, and round from the seventh to the tenth. The philosophy of Buddha Mahayana was then engaging the natives' mind, to worship and pray for their ancestors. Two other temples, Mendut and Pawon temples, had been built as the unity of Borobudur.
There are five parts resembling the unity of the Sailendra dynasty.
1. Sambharamarga or Gatrabhumi, shown as Mendut Temple, indicating King Indra's effort to build a place of worship.
2. Prayogamarga or Adhimukticaryabhumi, shown as Pawon Temple, formed as a tomb for King Indra, lied between his architectural creation and another steps from the former kings.
3. Darcanamarga : it's a place for Bodhisatvabhumi I or the foundation of Borobudur as a place prepared for King Indra
4. Bhawanamarga or Bodhisatvabhumi II-IX coming to show the being of eight kings in Sailendra dynasty
5. Asaiksamarga or Bodhisatvabhumi X where the family name of the dynasty was symbolized.
As the ideology of Islam entered Indonesia in the 15th century, the Javanese gradually learned new age and culture, and it could be the reason why the temple was abandoned. Even so, their leaving was not simply because of the changing belief. The serial of volcano eruptions reported about 70 years after the completion of the building were most likely to cause the dread. The mountain is continuously working dynamically until now. From Yogyakarta or Magelang, the outbursts were able to be seen as a firecracker-like show. The evidence reveals how a number of prayers still took a visit by the exposure of several chinas, covered by volcanic dust and dumped in the temple.
The densely populated Kedu plain has been living through its hectares of rice fields. The field fulfilled people's life, lush plants, supported by minerals thrown by the giant Merapi volcano and the flowing springs surrounding the land.
It couldn't be forgotten that the very same volcano had taken hundreds of life of the villagers who live in its vale. But it still gives them life as well. Andesites, collected in boulders are still found in most places around Magelang. The black stones then crafted to be replica of those giant and Buddha statues of the temple. It was a pity knowing that before the restoration was completed, many remain of the Borobudur temple, were stolen and smuggled to local and international collectors. The reproductions anyway, are beautiful enough to display. The craftsmen have developed their skills for years to produce equal quality of statues to the original ones. And it's better enjoying it that way.