Battle of Borobudur

Like most famous public monuments, Borobudur—the immense Buddhist stupa that rises from a wooded plain in south-central Java like a fabulous, mesmerizing dream—has suffered its share of adversity. It was buried under volcanic ash for centuries; in 1911, its summit was destroyed by lightning; its 2 million blocks of exquisitely carved volcanic stone are slowly sliding down the hill despite an extensive restoration project 20 years ago. Yet she's a game old girl and soldiers on, inspiring pilgrims as powerfully now as when she was raised 1,200 years ago.

Today, the serene yet slightly mad-looking stupa (it's meant...

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