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19 January 2021 (closed)
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Nadjamuddin Ramly, Director of Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy at Indonesia's Ministry of Education and Culture, said authorities plan to limit the number of visitors that are allowed to enter the Borobudur temple in Magelang (Central Java) to 15 people at one time. This move would relieve rising pressure on the structure of the ancient building. Especially in weekends and holidays hundreds of visitors enter the site causing concern about the preservation of the temple that is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Ramly said research shows that the current structure of the Borobudur building is in such condition that it only allows for 15 visitors to visit the historical site at the same time. He added that authorities need to create a safety zone around the ancient temples of Borobudur as well as Prambanan (in Yogyakarta) to enhance the cleanliness of the areas. Currently, many visitors throw thrash on the ground (littering), including cigarettes, or even urinate at the sites. Although Ramly did not specify the composition of visitors, it is assumed that he points at domestic tourists as Indonesians are generally known to have low environmental awareness.
However, recently there also occurred a scandal related to a foreign company. Energy drink manufacturer Red Bull shot a video commercial at the Borobudur (without having obtained the necessary permits from authorities) in which an athlete is performing acrobatic stunts near the top of the temple. Such stunts can cause physical damage to the structure of the temple and therefore the incident caused a major outrage in Indonesia, particularly given the fact the company had not requested for any permits to conduct the shooting. Red Bull later apologized for this incident.
Ramly added that there also need to be appointed more local guards to monitor tourists at the historical sites. However, it remains unknown - in case this maximum rule of 15 visitors at one time is indeed implemented - whether there will be introduced any time limits. Fifteen is a very low number and a visitor may spend several hours at the site, particularly if he/she is interested to 'read' the story that is depicted on the walls (there are some 1,460 narrative relief panels from the base of the monument to the top). In case there are no time limits, it should cause long queues.
The Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist temple. It was (most likely) built by the Sailendra dynasty who were adherents of Mahayana Buddhism. Not much later, and not far away from the location of the Borobudur, the Sanjaya dynasty built the Prambanan temple complex around 850 AD. This Sanjaya dynasty adhered to Hinduism. Both historical site are evidence that in the Hindu-Buddhist period (prior to the arrival and domination of Islam and Western forces), political power moved away from Sumatra (particularly Srivijaya) to Central Java.
Read more: Pre-Colonial Period of Indonesia