Borobudur is an amazing Buddist temple built in the 9th century. This is a site that can't be missed, spectacular. Here is a video from my visit.
Six square platforms form the base of Borobudur and these are topped by three circular platforms. The temple is decorated with over 2,500 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The main dome, located at the centre of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas. The square base is 118 meters long on each side, and the highest point 35 meters above ground level. The whole monument is constructed from dark grey andesite stone.
The reliefs cover the walls of the temple facing the outside as well as cooridors on each of the 6 square levels. The four key sets of stories told in those inscriptions of carved illustrations and Sanskrit inscriptions:
| The law of karma or Karmavibhangga. These are mostly hidden by the construction masking the foot of the monument which was done at some later period before Borobudur was overtaken by the jungle. The reliefs tell stories and give examples of the nature of karma with depictions of both praiseworthy and blameworthy activities.
| The birth of Buddha or Lalitavistara. Before the story starts, there are 27 panels showing preparations for the final earthly incarnation. The story then begins with the descent of the Lord Buddha from heaven, and continues until his first earthly sermon as Prince Siddhartha.
| The Jatakas and avadanas. Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha. Avadanas are similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not Buddha himself. Both are depicted in the same series of reliefs.
| The journeys of Sudhana searching for ultimate truth or Gandavyuha. This is the story told in the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra about Sudhana's tireless wandering in search of the highest perfect wisdom.
Photos are all by John Hunter.
It is hard to make our but if you look closely you can make out 4 or 5 levels of the temple in this close up view of the exterior.