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"Borobudur Buddha", ©1994 photo Elroy Christenson
The Buddha here is one of 72 that sits atop the largest stupa in the world. He was originally encased in one of the stone bell shapes behind. The Borobudur stupa was created with 2672 carved friezes around the nine levels of the stupa with 504 statues of Buddha. The many carved reliefs tell the life story of Buddha. Buddhism was in Indonesia before Hinduism and Islam. After that Buddhism diminishes in importance and trees start to grow up through the structure, earth quakes from the two nearby volcanos and rain also take a toll. By the time the Dutch came to Indonesia it was almost reclaimed by jungle. When the English came in they started cutting away the vegetation and built a tea house on the central bell. It now is a protected World Heritage site and with UNESCO's help was taken apart stone by stone and put back together with modern structural and drainage elements. A Buddhist monastery is nearby and Borobudur has returned as a major tourist attraction and pilgrimage site.