Borobudur is built from two-million rock blocks within the type of an enormous shaped stupa, virtually wrapped around a small hill. Looking at a 118m by 118m foundation, three round people top its six square terraces, with four stairways leading up through carved gateways for the top. It’s believed that the grey rock of Borobudur was once coloured to capture sunlight, although the paintwork is gone.
Viewed from your air, the structure resembles a heavy three-dimensional tantric mandala (symbolic circular number). It has been suggested, in fact, that Tantric Buddhists who used it like a walk-through or the people of the Buddhist group that once backed Borobudur were early Vajrayana mandala.
Although Borobudur is impressive for its sheer mass, the delicate sculptural work when seen up close is lovely. The pilgrim’s walk is approximately 5km long and takes you along narrow passages past almost 1460 highly decorated story sections and 1212 decorative panels where the sculptors have carved a virtual textbook of Buddhist doctrines along with many areas of Javanese life 1000 years back – a continuous procession of boats and dinosaurs, musicians and dancing girls, players and kings.
Courtiers and monks read this as a premonition that her son might become a Buddha, and the string continues until the delivery of Prince Siddhartha and his journey becoming a Buddha. Many other cells are related to Buddhist aspects of influence and trigger or karma.
Some 432 peaceful-faced Buddha images look out from open chambers above the galleries, while 72 more Buddha images remain only partially visible in latticed stupas on the top three terraces – one is the lucky Buddha. The very best system is round, signifying never-ending nirvana.
Admission to the temple includes access to Karmawibhangga historical museum, which can be just east of the monument and contains 4000 authentic rocks and designs from Borobudur and some interesting images.