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CENTRAL JAVA > CANDI BOROBUDUR > Relief Arts & Pradakcina Rituals
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Candi Borobudur is located some 45 minutes northeast of Yogyakarta.  It sits on a hill in the town of Muntilan in the Magelang District.

The collection of wall relief is located on the 4 levels of terraced corridors right after the base of the temple. The carved reliefs are arranged in circular motion throughout these 4 corridors. 


Candi Borobudur hosts a whopping collection of 1,460 individual narrative reliefs and 1,212 decorative ones. The reliefs generally narrate the stories that were adapted from ancient Sanskrit manuscripts that depicted the life of Prince Sidharta Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.

In all the 4-level terraces, a total of 11 series of reliefs are depicted. It is not uncommon for 2 or 3 stories are depicted parallel to each other on the wall. Unless you are an expert in reading the confusing maze of stone-carved imageries, you may not be able to follow the narration. I spent more time admiring the exquisite carvings rather than trying to understand the perplexing reliefs which experts took many years to decipher. As a trivia, if the relief blocks were to be laid out side-by-side, they will cover a distance of 2 miles. Yes, indeed a trivia, but it tells how extensive is the collection of reliefs on Candi Borobudur.

I would like to relate a unique ritual called Pradakcina which visitors are recommended to embark when visiting Candi Borobudur. One should enter the temple on the east gate (no worries, the archeological park personnel will ensure you enter this way). Then, circle the temple clockwise while basking in celebration of the life of Buddha depicted by the reliefs. Note that in the various narrations, Buddha mostly appears in its human form, but there are also images of his previous reincarnations as a deer, swan, bird, elephant or rabbit. The Pradakcina ritual signifies the act of paying homage to the good spirits.

Intriguing art forms. 

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