Enter the Enticing Cultural World Heritage Sites of Indonesia
UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in Indonesia
With its thousands of islands spread across the wide gap between continental Asia and Australia, Indonesia was an important stop for traders from the Far East and the Middle East.
These traders brought with them various cultural influences in terms of architecture, sculpture, music, dance, entertainment, paintings, crafts, literature, cuisine, sports, as well as recreation.
Foreign cultural influences interacted with indigenous customs and traditions, resulting in a cultural fusion that is unique to Indonesia.
It is no wonder that one can stumble upon notable ancient cultural world heritage sites in Indonesia.
These sites were considered cultural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO for they are exceptionally beautiful testimonies to ancient civilizations in Indonesia.
1. Borobudur Temple Compounds
Located in the regency of Magelang, province of central Java in Indonesia, the ancient Borobudur Temple Compounds was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 for three reasons:
- It is a representation of a cultural masterpiece,
- It exhibits important human values through outstanding architecture and monumental arts, and
- It is tangibly related to current-day traditions that are of universal value.
Constructed about 1,200 years ago, the Borobudur Temple Compounds was supposed to be shrine for Buddha and a pilgrimage site for the Mahayana Buddhists.
The temple compound is located atop a hill, which in turn is surrounded by volcanoes and vegetations.
This type of location is arguably intended to help pilgrims immerse themselves in the teachings of Buddha while blocking their views of the material world.
Indeed, the top of Borobudur Temple Compounds is barricaded with about 3,000 sculptures that depict the holy life of Buddha.
There are also 500 sculptures of Buddha himself at the top.
To get to the top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, today’s visitors must climb six square platforms at the lower part of the temple compounds and the three circular platforms at the top of it.
While the Borobudur Temple Compounds is now a protected cultural heritage site, it was not so in the distant past.
In the 14th century, the temple compound appears to have been abandoned.
At about that time, Javanese people started converting to Islam from Buddhism, making the Borobudur Temple Compounds insignificant to the local dwellers.
By 1814, dwellers were able to inform their British colonizers about the compound.
Since then, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has come under the protection of the country’s rulers and has received much-needed restoration works.
2. Prambanan Temple Compounds
The largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and one of the biggest in the whole of Southeast Asia, the Prambanan Temple Compounds was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 because it is an incomparable architectural ensemble that represents a significant part of the Indonesian history and because it is a representation of Indonesian cultural masterpiece.
Located in the province of central Java, the Prambanan Temple Compounds was built in about 9th century to embody Trimurti or the Hindu concept of creation, preservation, and destruction.
Creation is represented by Brahma, preservation by Vishnu, and destruction by Shiva.
Indeed, the main temples in the Prambanan Temple Compounds are dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, with the shrine dedicated to Shiva being the most imposing at 47 meters high and 34 meters wide.
The temple dedicated to Vishnu is to the north of the Shiva temple while the temple dedicated to Brahma is to the south of the Shiva temple.
Both of these temples measure 33 meters high and 20 meters wide.
The whole of the Prambanan Temple Compounds symbolizes the typical Hindu architecture, with the customary towering temples with spires pointing to the sky.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also said to embody the Hindu universe based on the concepts of the Hindu cosmology and Loka.
3. Sangiran Early Man Site
Also found in central Java, Indonesia, the Sangiran Early Man Site was honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 because the site is a testimony of a civilization that has long disappeared and because this civilization bears several links to modern-day customs and traditions that are of universal value.
The Sangiran Early Man Site is an indispensable archaeological site for understanding human evolution, particularly the Homo sapiens sapiens from the Lower Pleistocene period.
Excavations done in the site between 1936 and 1941 also yielded hominid fossils.
Occupied for one million and a half years, the Sangiran Early Man Site is indeed a world heritage site that can help people understand human evolution better than in the past.
Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista
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