An international operation to rescue the Buddhas of Bororbudur -- one of Asia's greatest monuments -- is expected to go into full swing by October this year at a cost of about 8-million U.
An international operation to rescue the Buddhas of Bororbudur -- one of Asia's greatest monuments -- is expected to go into full swing by October this year at a cost of about 8-million U.S. dollars (3.6 million pounds sterling)
Experts from several European countries, backed up by hundreds of Indonesians, are almost at the end of the preliminary study project that began in 1963. Work halted for four years after the 1965 coup but started again in 1970 under the guidance of the Untied Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organication (UNESCO).
The preliminary project has confirmed that restoration is coming not a moment too soon. Tropical rains and earthquakes caused by nearby volcanoes have severely weakened the temple's foundations.
The restoration will involved dismantling the temple stone by stone to replace broken base blocks and install a drainage system in the foundations that Bororbudur's 10,000 laborers failed to provide more than 1,100 years ago.
The full project is expected to take six years to complete.
SYNOPSIS: Rising above a Dentral Java hilltop is one of Asia's greatest monuments -- the Buddhas of Bororbudur. Gazing across lush forests, the temple has survived eleven centuries of tropical rains and volcanic earthquakes.
Hundreds of Buddha images once graced the nine levels of the temple. Bororbudur since has become a symbol of Indonesia's Moslem, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist history. Few Buddhas remain today: vandals and treasures seekers stripped the best over the past two-hundred years.
And what's remaining is also in danger. Rain and earthquakes have severely damaged the temple's foundations. An international rescue operation is now nearing the end of a preliminary project that's confirmed restoration is coming not a moment too soon. Under the guidance of UNESCO, hundreds of Indonesian laborers and experts from France, West Germany and Holland have discovered they'll need to dismantle the temple stone by stone to replace broken base blocks and install a drainage system in the foundations. Each must be carefully marked so the temple can be re-assembled exactly as it was.
As well as straightening up sagging walls scientist must preserve the four miles of delicate carvings chronicling Budda a life around the temple. The carvings have been disfigured by tiny surface explosions in the porous volcanic rock.
Indonesian and foreign tourists can still visit the temple to touch a Buddha for good luck. But from next October, half the temple will be closed off for six years while the restoration project is in full swing. In all, it's expected to cost more than eight million U.S. dollars.