Borobudur Temple

The Borobudur stupa is a massive, symetrical monument, 200 square meters in size, sitting upon a low sculptured hill. The monument represents a Buddhist cosmological model of the universe organized around the axis of mythical Mount Meru. Starting at the eastern gateway, pilgrims circumambulate the stupa, always in a clockwise direction. Walking through nearly five kilometers of open air corridors while ascending through six square terraces and three circular ones, the pilgrim symbolically spirals upward from the everyday world to the nirvanic state of absolute nothingness. The first six terraces are filled with richly decorated relief panels in which the sculptors have carved a textbook of Buddhist doctrines and a fascinating panorama of 9th century Javanese life. Upon the upper three terraces are 72 small stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha (these statues are usually headless; relic hunters stole many of the heads, others are in museums). Crowning the entire structure is a great central stupa representing Nirvana.