Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

No single picture can fully capture the grandeur of the largest Buddhist site, Borobudur, in Yogyakarta (pronounced “Joe-jakarta”). The temple, believed to be built sometimes in the 7-8th century A.D., is a nine-tiered temple. The bottom six have over three and a half miles of stone wall carvings, depicting karmic lessons of consequences and Buddha’s teachings.

Little is known about the original purpose and use of the building. But, today, many Buddhist make a pilgrimage and walk up the temple in a clockwise spiral route for meditation. Many believe each higher level represents a stage closer to nirvana.

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Perhaps one of the coolest places I had the opportunity to venture off to amidst my many work trips in the region is Borobudur, a Buddhist relic in the now Muslim country of Indonesia. Built in the 8th and 9th centuries, this shrine is old. I mean OLD. But obviously very much reconstructed by modern restoration, given the smooth and finished quality of most of the stones, although they haven’t gotten around to the re-heading the mostly decapitated Buddha statues. I’m willing to wager those almost 500-strong heads were largely pilfered and probably floating around the world hidden or mistaken as cheap stone antique imitations.

Borobudur is enormous. Back then, the Asians in the region were tiny. More so than now. How they climbed up and down the steps is beyond me. Some steps were so steep and footstep depth so narrow, I felt like I ought to sit on the steps and scoot my butt up and down for safer movements. It certainly rings true to the meaning to “climbing” stairs. Despite the largely reconstructed nature of the temple, it still retains a strong sense of ancient to it, perhaps sped up by the humid wet climate.