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The Largest Borobudur Temple In The World - Why was it built?

The Largest Borobudur Temple In The World - Why was it built?

The Long History of the Painful Borobudur Temple

Built and known as a national masterpiece from Wangsa Syailendra, Borobudur Temple in Magelang Regency, Central Java, not only through a period of worship and admiration. Its contact with humans, since before 1900 until now, has made this temple through a long history of being "hurt" due to various acts of destruction in various variations.

Based on many reference books, including the book Trilogy I 100 Years after the restoration of the Borobudur Temple, Rescuing the Borobudur Temple from the Borobudur Conservation Center, in 1814 the existence of Borobudur Temple was only discovered by Lieutenant Governor General Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. He knew this from a report he got on his official trip to Semarang. The temple is known to be in Bumisegoro, Magelang Regency.

Raffles, who had a great interest in ancient relics from the past, appointed Cornelius, a Dutch officer who was experienced in ancient relics in Java, to clean up, bring back the Borobudur Temple which at that time resembled a hill covered in shrubs and trees. Even though they succeeded in showing the temple, the cleaning activity was the beginning of a disturbance to Borobudur Temple. At that time, many residents began to take the temple stone and use it as a building material for their homes.

The cleaning and improvement were then continued by Resident Kedu Hartmann until 1835. It was in the Hartmann era that the Dutch East Indies government carried out promotions and publications so that the name Borobudur Temple began to be lifted in the eyes of the world. Many people, from various backgrounds, began to see and judge the temple. In fact, in 1882, there was a suggestion to the Dutch East Indies government to demolish the Borobudur Temple and keep stone pieces with reliefs in the museum. However, the proposal was rejected.

The Largest Borobudur Temple In The World - Why was it built?


When it was first discovered, the peak of the main stupa of Borobudur Temple, was once used as a cafe or coffee shop by the Dutch.

The opening of Borobudur Temple to the general public will automatically open up access for anyone to destroy the temple. At that time, observations and documentation were carried out haphazardly, leaving behind archaeological principles. The main stupa was forcibly demolished just for the reason of knowing what important objects were in it.

The casual behavior also continues. In fact, at the top of the main stupa, a shelter was built, which later became a viewing post as well as a hangout place for coffee.

Not only human behavior, building damage is also triggered by environmental factors, namely water and sunlight. These two things trigger the growth of organisms that accelerate weathering of rocks.

Seeing such severe damage, the Dutch East Indies government finally decided to carry out restoration work. The first restoration that took place from 1907-1911 was led by Theodore van Erp.

Dukut Santoso, Head of the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Center from 1999 to 2006, in his writing in the book Trilogy I 100 Years after the restoration of Borobudur Temple, said that after the first restoration, the temple was increasingly visited by tourists. At that time the temple was fully standing, with the top of the main stupa equipped with a chattra, the highest ornament in a Buddhist temple. The installation of the chattra is intended to add to the beauty when this temple is photographed.

However, this restoration has not been perfect. Many parts were observed to be in a sloping condition and some were sagged. A total of 24 gates are urgently needed to be repaired, and the part of the balustrade that has not been completely installed. Therefore, the Indonesian government then decided to carry out the second restoration, which lasted for 10 years, from 1973 to 1983. This made the temple building more beautiful and stronger.

The Largest Borobudur Temple In The World - Why was it built?

Borobudur Temple is a Buddhist temple built in a hilly area. Referring to the results of the research, the geographical environment of this temple when it was built was in the form of a lake environment with several streams flowing into it.

The hypothesis about the existence of a lake environment was first put forward by a Dutch artist architect, WOJ Nieuwenkamp, ​​in Algemeens Handelblad, an influential Dutch newspaper published in 1828-1970. In his writing entitled Het Borobudur Meer, it is stated that Borobudur Temple is the embodiment of the lotus flower that floats in the middle of the lake. This hypothesis is also supported by a number of geologists, including Van Bemmelen. In his book, De geologiche Geschiedenis van Indonesie, published in 1952, Van Bemmelen stated that in the area of ​​South Kedu there had once been a very large lake, the formation of which was triggered by the very strong eruption of Merapi in 1006 AD.

The trail, the former lake area, is part of the history of Borobudur Temple. However, in the present, the traces are barely visible again.

An ancient lake researcher from BKB, Yenny Supandi, said that as many as 98 new buildings currently stand on the site of the former ancient lake of Borobudur. These new buildings were observed to have stood during the 2014-2019 period. More than 50 percent of the 98 buildings are commercial buildings, such as hotels / inns, restaurants, homestays, and this includes the village economic hall (balkondes), formed by a state-owned enterprise. The land area used as the location for the construction of the 98 new buildings was recorded at 17.64 hectares.

The Largest Borobudur Temple In The World - Why was it built?

The establishment of these buildings, according to Yenny, automatically closes the picture of the cosmological concept applied to the building structure and determining the landscape or location of the Borobudur Temple.

With these considerations, Borobudur Temple was built in its current location, surrounded by hills and mountains, namely Mount Merapi, Merbabu, Andong, Sumbing, Sindoro, Tidar, and Menoreh Mountains. In this area, water flows from large rivers, such as the Elo, Progo, Sileng, and the ancient lake of Borobudur.

Based on Presidential Regulation Number 58 of 2014 concerning Spatial Planning for the Borobudur Area and Its Surroundings, the ancient lake area is actually a protected area, namely the use of the land is regulated and no buildings are allowed to stand on it. In addition, the ancient lake area is also considered important to maintain because it is an important component in the history of the construction of Borobudur Temple, a Buddhist heritage site and world cultural heritage.