Be it the Egyptian Pyramids or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Roman Colosseum or France’s Eiffel Tower, these structures stand the test of time as symbols of man’s achievement. They are not merely stone-and-mortar constructions; they are visions of our ancestors. They stand as bridges between our glorious past and our momentous present, inspiring us towards a future full of possibilities.
One such architectural marvel is Borobudur Temple–the biggest Buddhist monument in the world. It is said that the name Borobudur is derived from Sanskrit word Vihara Buddha Uhr, meaning Buddhist monastery on the hill. This heritage site sits on a remote hilltop at Kedu Valley in Central Java, Indonesia. The temple’s beauty lies in the way it blends the physical structure of stonework with the metaphysical framework of spirituality.
Borobudur is believed to be Buddha’s vision of the cosmos. Interestingly, the very plan of Borobudur, when seen from a vantage point resembles a three-dimensional mandala–a diagram of the cosmos used for meditation. Etched in stone, this Borobudur cosmos points towards the sky. The very architecture reflects the principles of Java Buddhism as seen during the reign of Sailendra Dynasty. Shaped as a pyramid with multiple tiers, the symmetrical stupa has six square terraces, three circular terraces and a central dome. They are made accessible by four stairways. Several carved structures in the galleries depict events from the Buddha’s life and propagate the core teachings of Buddhism.
Walking along the temple’s pathways, we realise that the journey matters more than the destination. And just as we realise this, we begin to see how Borobudur’s physical pathways symbolise the non-physical path to enlightenment.