Wednesday, 27th May 2009 by

Sitting between twin volcanoes in "the garden of Java" - the Kedu Plain of Indonesia - is a ninth century Buddhist temple: Borobudur. One huge stupa (shrine for the Lord Buddha), it also contains seventy-two smaller, bell-shaped stupas; each pierced with many decorative holes that make the bells to resemble cages.

Inside each of the smaller, cage-like stupas sits a statue of Buddha, but in total there are actually 504 statues of Buddha here.

Candi Borobudur
Borobudur (Ground-level photo)

The temple, known as a candi (chan-dee) in Javanese, was re-discovered in 1814 when then-British ruler, Sir Thomas Raffles, was advised by locals as to its presence. It laid hidden for many years, covered in jungle growth and volcanic ash. Raffles ordered a restoration that would last through the next 170 years.

Early in the 1900's, during one of the renovation periods, two smaller candis built using the same style were found to Borobudur's northeast:

Candi Pawon Candi Mendut
Candi Pawon (Ground-level photo), and Candi Mendut (Ground-level photo)

All told, the three candis sit about two and half miles apart: from Borobudur to Mendut, with Pawon sitting in the middle. What is most interesting though, is that all three are arranged in a perfect line. Pretty impressive given that this was done without the power of Google Earth - 1100 years ago!

Today Borobudur is the number one tourist destination in Indonesia, receiving several million visitors each year.

There are loads of cool-looking HDR photos available over at Stuck in Customs, and of course Wikipedia has more information as ever.

See also our previous coverage on Angkor Wat, a similarly styled Buddhist temple in Cambodia.