The magnificent and mysterious Borobudur temple that located about 42 kilometers away from Yogyakarta is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and for good reason. The temple dates back to the eighth and ninth centuries, a whole four centuries before Cambodia’s legendary Angkor Wat was constructed and also four centuries before the great cathedrals of Europe were built. There is no written record of who built Borobudur, or of its intended purpose, and little is known of its origin, except that it was most likely founded by a reigning king during the Sailendra dynasty, which was in power around 800 AD.
When Borobudur was discovered, it had been buried for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle. When it was uncovered however, it quickly became clear that this was truly one of the wonders of the ancient world.
The temple was built from approximately 55,000 cubic meters (72,000 cubic yards) of rock taken from neighboring rivers. These rocks and stones were then cut to size, transported to the temple site and laid without the aid of mortar. The walls of Borobudur feature bas reliefs which extend for a total length of six kilometers, making the temple the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. Moreover, each relief scene has been exquisitely carved and is an individual masterpiece. Put all of this together and it’s not hard to see why today, Borobudur is the single most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia.
During October and November of 2010, the temple was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi, and was covered by a 2.5 centimeter layer of ash. An extensive cleanup operation quickly swung into action though, and this justly celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site has now been declared ready to receive visitors once again.