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Tourists banned from touching Borobudur statues, stupa

Intan Tanjung
Intan Tanjung

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, July 27, 2016  /  04:21 pm
Tourists banned from touching Borobudur statues, stupa

Many local tourists who want to touch the statue inside the stupa are driven by the myth that those who are able to do it will have a wish granted. (Shutterstock/-)

Travelers visiting Borobudur Temple in Central Java should avoid touching and stepping on the temple’s stupa in order to preserve one of the world’s most sacred heritage sites.

Borobudur Conservation Agency public relations officer Mura told tempo.co that authorities had consistently warned tourists through the loudspeaker regarding the matter.

“Touching the stupa can cause damage to the temple. Although it’s made from stone, it can be broken. The bottom part of the stupa has become soft and it lost its original shape due to being touched repeatedly by tourists,” said Mura while showing a palm print that had corroded the temple's stone.

Borobudur was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Built in the 8th century, it is the biggest Buddhist monument in the world.

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The government has included Borobudur as one of the 10 ‘New Bali’ destinations to be promoted abroad. Last year, the number of visitors to the temple reached 1.5 million people, including 250,000 foreign tourists.

The Borobudur Conservation Agency regularly cleans the temple of destructive moss using high pressure water, and without using any chemicals.

“UNESCO doesn’t allow us to use chemicals. We use clean water to remove moss from the stone,” said Mura.

The management of Borobudur Temple also prohibits tourists from touching the statue inside the stupa.

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“When tourists want to touch the stupa, they use the stone as the stepping point, which can be broken if many people step on it,” he said.

Many local tourists who want to touch the statue inside the stupa are driven by the myth that those who are able to do it will have a wish granted.

Mura said there was currently no sanction given to tourists caught touching the stupa. The ban was implemented to raise visitors’ awareness of the importance of helping to preserve the temple, he added. (kes)