BOROBUDUR – RECENT HISTORY OF ITS CULTURAL
Toward the Sustainable Rural Development as the
TITIN FATIMAH, KANKI KIYOKO and LARETNA T. ADISHAKTI
Paper Presented at the Forum UNESCO University and Heritage
10th International Seminar
“Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century”
NewcastleuponTyne, 1116 April 2005
Revised: July 2006
After 8 years of restoration, in 1983 Borobudur Temple was officially opened for public,
including tourism. In 1991 Borobudur Temple was inscribed in the World Heritage List.
Various things happened and changed in the surrounding areas since then. Before the
restoration, most of people in Borobudur lived on agriculture. Their planting system
based on the Javanese indigenous knowledge. The patterns of traditional cooperation
were also being practiced. However, when Borobudur Temple was created as
Recreation Park, two nearest Javanese traditional dusun (compounds) were moved.
People who live around the Borobudur Temple now have different condition compared
with the past time. However, changes of time causes the different way of life, culture,
and also how they appreciate and utilize landscape around them. Borobudur area in the
past time was an agriculture land.
2. History of Borobudur Temple and Life History of Surrounding People
Borobudur Temple is located in Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. It is the
world’s largest Buddhist monument, which made of 55000 m 3 of volcanic rock that’s
more than a million blocks of carved stone and has galleries measuring 2500m.
Borobudur is the name of the temple, and also the name of the area around the temple
which is called Borobudur Sub District. It is situated on the south side of Magelang
Regency, the Province of Central Java, Indonesia. (Figure.1)
District is located at 110 o 09’ 02”
110 o 15’ 30” East Longitude and 7 o
34’ 20” 7 o 39’ 17” South Latitude.
Borobudur Village as the capital town
of Borobudur Sub District has 235m
high from sea above level. Average
rainfall is 1.955 mm/year and average
of rainy days is 140 day/year. Wet
months are OctoberMarch (rainy
28 o C.Borobudur
situated in the Kedu Plain area,
(Merapi Mountain, Merbabu Mountain
and Sumbing Mountain). Merapi
Mountain is still active as volcanic
mountain. Menoreh Hills is laid on the
south side, while on the south east
ward there is a historical city of Jogjakarta.
Figure 1. Location Map of Borobudur
There are big visibly differences between the condition of Borobudur Temple and
surrounding landscape from the past time and recent condition. Those differences can
be seen through several maps below.
Dry farm land
River/ water area
Figure 2. Land use transformation around the temple
Refer to the land use transformation shown on those maps (Figure 2), we can explore
and analyze the detailed condition of each map. The table below gives the explanation
of the map data (left column) and the condition of the landscape in certain time.
Table.1. Landscape Changing around the Borobudur Temple
Balancedlandscape period(Estimated 18 th 19 th C)
Author: Probably Dutch Most of the area surrounding the temple was rice fields. Two
rivers were laid at the south and north part. (It said that area
Source: Jack Priyana, around The Borobudur Temple was swamp area). Settlement
Tourism is bordered clearly from farming land.
Villagers planted coconut trees inside the settlement area for
palm sugar home production. The main crops are rice and
Dry farm period (9021904)
Dutch Rivers turned into rice field, and then former rice field turned
into tegal (dry farmland).
Source: KIT, Netherland
New road was laid, across the farmland in Kenayan hamlet.
Turn to rice field period (10341936)
Dutch After the first restoration in 19071911, Borobudur Temple was
surrounded by fences.
Source: KIT Netherland
Settlement area became larger. Public facilities were built up,
such as: Policlinic and school.
Some dry farm land turned back into rice field
Restoration period (Estimated around 1971)
Author: Probably Dutch Rice field was still there but settlement area became larger.
Settlement and farming area were not clearly bordered.
New facilities were built near the temple for restoration project.
It consists of office for restoration project, workshop place,
laboratory and storage to keep the stones from the temple.
Archaeological Park period (Year 2001)
Indonesian Surrounding areas of the temple has now become Tourism
Park. Two nearest hamlet were moved. No rice fields, except
the south side of the temple (small wet farming land). Outside
of the park are mostly settlements. Roads are laid both inside
and outside the park. North side abandoned river changed to
Figure ground Map
Archaeological Park period (Year 2005)
Indonesian Borobudur Tourism Park has been developed rapidly.
Settlement area around the park is becoming densely
for crowded. A number of new pathways inside the park have
Gadjah Mada University
Some kebon area (open space inside the settlement which
utilized for plantation) disappeared.
2.1 Life History in Borobudur before restoration
In the past time, Borobudur Temple was situated in the jungle ? . So many trees grew
around the temple. There are some opinions and proofs of facts shows that Borobudur
Temple was situated in the swamp (like a lake) area.
In 1970s Borobudur Temple’s surrounding area was Javanese traditional village which
run traditional systems in daily life. Ngaran and Kenayan –the villages closest to
Borobudur Temple was remembered as peaceful by its inhabitants who are now living
in several villages not far from Borobudur Temple. Those villages –Ngaran and
Kenayan– were the busiest villages, center for economic activities.
Most of Borobudur villagers lived on agriculture. They planted rice once a year, during
rainy season (OctoberMarch). During the dry season they planted others, such as
cassava, beans, corn, or sweet potato. Some villagers were already involved in tourism
activities as side job, but tourism was not yet developed sector. ?
2.2 Life History in Borobudur during restoration
Restoration of Borobudur Temple was started in 1973. Since the restoration began, the
life in the villages was changing. Many villagers were recruited as worker in the
restoration –which was called “proyek” by local people and many people from other
area poured into the village. The local economy improved and the local market became
Based on the study by and advice from JICA, a plan was made to build a park around
the hill of Borobudur, which should become a kind of its buffer zone. The establishment
of the park, which was about 85 hectares, meant that the area around the hill of
Borobudur should be cleared up. The villagers living in Ngaran and Kenayan –the
closest villages were to be moved to another place. They bought lands and settled in
different villages around Borobudur. Their lives changed.
Actually the first idea of creating buffer zone was about Green Belt System. But it
changed into Borobudur Archeological Park. It was still good, because another
important office within the Park which called the Balai Studi dan Konservasi Borobudur
(Center for the Study and Conservation of Borobudur) was established too. This
governmental institution is still runs until now. In 1980 the concept of Borobudur
Archeological Park was changed into Taman Wisata (Tourism Park).
2.3 Life History in Borobudur after restoration
Borobudur Tourism Park’s area is divided into two zones. The first zone is the
Borobudur hill and the second zone is the park surrounding the zone. The Indonesian
government set up PT. Taman Wisata (Taman Wisata Company Limited) to manage it.
However, park management is only one of its aims. Other aims are: (a) to develop
tourism in the area, especially cultural tourism? (b) to improve local environment and the
local economic, social and cultural conditions? (c) to prevent any uncontrolled
development within and around the site of Borobudur.
Restoration process of the Borobudur Temple had given a lot of impacts on the local
people’s life, especially on economic, social and cultural sides. Moved people lost their
original place of life and social environment.
3. Borobudur today
The changing situation in Borobudur today can not be separated from the establishment
of the PT. Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur by government in 1980. After the
establishment of the Borobudur Tourism Park, so many local people go to the park to
earn money by doing several economic activities.
As the national economic crisis was happen in 1997, so many villagers went to the park
to become vendors. It was caused the suddenly increased of the vendors’ number and
competition between them. The situation was more complicated when vendors entered
the second zone that actually prohibited for economic activities. This resulted in their
conflict with the PT. Taman. PT. Taman was judged by some members of the local
communities that it has not given enough social and economic contribution to the local
We started our survey when the local community protests against the provincial
government plan of a large scale commercial development called “Jagad Jawa” in the
beginning of 2003. Jagad Jawa is a proposal to create a new entry/exit complex to the
west of the Borobudur site, combined with a new onsite visitor transport system and the
relandscaping of current entry area.
Controversies beyond this issue encouraged UNESCO and ICOMOS to set up a
Reactive Monitoring Mission to Borobudur. Part of the Mission recommendations is:
“The proposal to relocate the main entry of the site to the “Jagad Jawa” development
should be abandoned” (Engelhardt, et.al., 2003). Jagad Jawa is a proposal to create a
new entry/exit complex to the west of the site, combined with new onsite visitor
transport system and the relandscaping of the current entry area.
Although, the plan has already refused, the local people and other concerned parties
further rethink and to reexamine toward the broader dimensions of conservation in
Borobudur. The strengthened relation between the temple and the villages were
examined and explored, including the sustainable rural environment. ?
Since that time, a lot of movements in order to keep the Borobudur have been realized.
Some of local and national NGO took actions for getting the consensus and solution to
against the problem. This awareness movement started to spread in communities. This
awareness is about the important to keep Borobudur as one of World Heritage not only
as a single monument but also include the beautiful cultural landscape surrounding it. ?
4. Landscape Use the concept and the database system ?
4.1 The Conceptual Framework of the Landscape Use
'Land use' has been one of the most important concepts in planning, but it doesn't deal
with detailed elements such as flora, fauna, or diverse topography, namely landscape
elements. Therefore we need the methods to study the relation between ecological
system and human influence at the level of landscape elements. Especially we must
study about one aspect ‘what influence to ecosystem = how to manage landscape
element’, because the change of ‘how to manage’ results in the transformation of the
landscape. On the other hand, ‘Who does’, and ‘motivation for management’, namely
social system of landscape management can be substituted by another new system. To
understand this conservation system, our surveys are focusing on the idea of
'landscape use'. ‘Landscape use’ is all sorts of these kinds of information about each
When local people is concerned with the soil and underwater character and the suitable
way of agricultural production about a certain piece of field, such piece of field and their
concern, knowledge and experience will be identified as one landscape use. When you
can find scientific evidence of a habitat for wild birds about several places and zones,
such places and zones with those evidences will be identified as a Landscape Use.
When you can find a certain type of wooden structure of the village that composes the
identity of the village space, the distribution of such type will be identified as a
Landscape Use. 'Landscape use' means the various meanings held by the people on a
certain landscape element. If we can collect a certain number of landscape uses at a
certain area, we can understand the cultural landscape structure.
4.2 How to survey
Here we should establish methodology to study, analyze, and apply to planning the
concept 'Landscape Use'. We must collect information materials to describe the human
and environmental local history. Information materials for physical environment of the
area are mostly maps, aerial and snap photos, drawing by artists, sometimes essays,
from which we recognize the detailed elements and reason the relations between
human activities and environment. Next, we collect information human activities. We
mainly use the Life History Interview. By this we can know the relation between human
activities and environment. Another importance of this method is "remeaning" existing
and disappeared landscape elements based on the people's information.
We start with the interview to people's monologue. The collected monologue will be
analyzed as landscape use information and will be made into common wisdom about
the balanced relation between landscape and human society. Sometimes we can also
stimulate people to remind such relation. People memorizes their enjoyable, impressive
experiences to the detailed elements of the place, and possibly accumulates their
wisdom to use or live with their environment.
Through these materials and interviews, we can evaluate remeaning landscape
elements, still existing or already disappeared.
4.3 Database system
As written above, landscape use is the idea for landscape element including
multiaspect meanings, not simple classification. So, it is easy to understand this idea
not as kind of classified elements, but as the collection of the element that are linked to
a set of information. Therefore, we depend on the database system to collect, utilize
these landscape uses
On the other hand, the collection of landscape use should always be added, corrected,
namely updated. It is important that local people are aware of meanings of every
landscape elements and can manage the conservation, transformation, or creation of
their cultural landscape by themselves. There should be a good collection of landscape
use information that every local people can consult. As we need the database system
and easiness in updating and accessibility by many people, we chose database system
with Internet communication. With this database system the landscape use collection
can be added, revised, collected, studied, and utilized at any needs by the local people
As we know that internet communication is not well developed yet in Borobudur area
now. So, as the first step print out of database contents will be useful. Those print out is
bundled and distributed to the main place of high accessed by villagers, such as village
office, community center, etc. Next step is store data on PC. If possible store data on the
network. The last step if all the requirements are available, is storing data using
5. Cultural Landscape of Borobudur
Borobudur Temple is situated in the wide spread beautiful cultural landscape. Ken Taylor,
a researcher concerning on cultural landscape gives description about Borobudur
temple and its cultural landscape as shown below:
Borobudur stands in the centre of fertile and richly watered Kedu Plains flanked to the
south by the jagged Menoreh Hills and north from Mount Merapi by a series of
volcanic peaks linked by an undulating ridge. The whole setting is a gigantic
amphitheatre with Borobudur standing in the middle on a low hill creating a
memorable and evocative effect. ?
Landscapes are historical documents, so it is important to know the condition of the
landscape on each period. As Borobudur was created for long time ago with long
histories, so many landscape changes were happened. It has relationship to the
villagers’ way of life. Everybody have their own history, experience and memory about
As Borobudur Temple is the centre of wide spread cultural landscape, it is important to
pay attention not only the temple, but also the environment surrounding it. Generally,
people just look temple as single monument. So many tourists –domestic and
international come and climb up the temple. There are 2.070.693 visitors in whole year
2003, 61.774 foreign visitors and 2.008.949 domestic visitors. ?
Borobudur Temple is surrounded by beautiful villages actually. Those villages have
many natural resources and cultural resources. Unfortunately, local people did not know
their potentials and did not develop their village’s potentials as tourist assets. But
recently awareness about local potentials has been growing.
Candirejo Village that located about 3 km of east side from Borobudur has been
established as tourism village ? . It is a beautiful village with traditionalistic daily life,
beautiful rural scene and many natural resources. Other villages have their own unique
potentials actually, but not developed yet.
Local NGO and local government are trying to hold a deep observation and set up a
comprehensive planning for conservation of those villages. Several activities such as
workshop, panel discussion, community group meeting, etc were held. However,
cultural landscape conservation needs a good coordination among local people and the
6. Finding and Recommendation
Landscape use information is important for understanding of landscape structure as
well as detailed features. The Idea 'Landscape Use' is a multiaspect description of
every landscape element, which is useful always with database system. It is
integrated collection of knowledge, wisdom, tradition, memory, scientific data, and
The changing landscape in Borobudur has various meaning to various people,
communities and social sectors. Those changes including the people life histories are
important to be recorded and managed into ‘Landscape Use’ database system. It is
important for the people to manage their landscape well. Collecting and updating of
such information can help the people to succeed the important information to the
different background people who might be the good managers in the presence and in
? Jack Priyana, indigenous people from Borobudur, now become the chair person of
Borobudur Tourism Network
? Heddy Shri AhimsaPutra, Twenty Years After –Economic, Social and Cultural
Impacts of Tourism in Borobudur in: The Fourth Expert Meeting on Borobudur, July 48,
? Laretna T. Adhisakti, Community Participation and Future Development of
Borobudur Temple and Its Environment in: The Fourth Expert Meeting on Borobudur,
July 48, 2003
? Titin Fatimah, Rural Landscape Management for Conservation Planning of
Borobudur Rural Area in: 5 th International Symposium on Architectural Interchanges
in Asia, Matsue, Japan, June 14 2004
? Idem note 1
? Ken Taylor, Cultural Landscape as Open Air Museum: Borobudur World Heritage
Site and Its Setting in: Humanities Research Vol. 10 No.2, 2003
? Board of Statistics of Magelang Regency, Magelang Regency in Figures 2003,
? NRMLCE Project, A Moment of Candirejo Village, Borobudur, Magelang, Central
Jawa, Indonesia, JICA&PATRAPALA Foundation, 2003
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