The Largest Buddhist complex in the world - Tourism Indonesia


Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Largest Buddhist complex in the world

Hunting for some superlatives? Here are two. Indonesia, alas now more famous for a spate of natural disasters as volcanoes and earthquakes, is said to be the largest archipelago in the world, comprising some 1700 islands.

And Borobudur sited a considerable distance from Jakarta (referred to in the Rajavaliya as Jagadara) is according to many the largest Buddhist shrine in the world. Well. One is inside the other. I mean Borobudur is in the archipelago of Indonesia, today a major Moslem state in the world. Complexes as this leave some strange imprints, imprints of a completely different past. Otherwise how can one explain this paradox?

These islands had once been a part of an Indian Buddhist empire and later of an Indian Hindu Empire for which the massive Prambanan Hindu shrine in Borobudur's proximity bears witness. But luckily this gigantic complex has been spared the fate that the Bamian staues were subject to.

The Indonesian Muslims do not enjoy razing to the ground these historical and religious monuments and they seem to be proud of them. The day we visited Borobudur there was an equal crowd of men donning fez caps and veiled women. Of course they were not there for religious ritual but were there to wander and wonder.

There is so much to wonder in Indonesia, once a Dutch colonial hold. It was the first time I was there but as we sat outside a beach fringed hotel facing the ocean, a rather familiar sight caught my eye. ... familiar from history books, that is. A mass of sailing vessels just kept floating around. White sails against reddening evening skies.

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