Borobudur in Central Java has been described as the eighth wonder of the world. It is the world's largest Buddhist temple, built out of 1.6 million blocks of worked volcanic stone and containing three miles of relief carvings and 504 statues of Buddha. Yet for 1,000 years it lay deserted in the jungle until it was rediscovered by none other than the famous Englishman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
In 1811, at the age of 30, Raffles became Java's Lieutenant-Governor. When reports reached him of a huge structure deep in the jungle he went to investigate. Unlike other explorers of the age his first reaction was not to hack the temple to bits. He had it surveyed, sketched and described in exact detail.
This book - like Raffles - seeks to solve the mysteries of Borobudur. Who built the temple? How was it constructed? What was it for? And why was it abandoned so soon after completion?
I thought this would explain the genesis and scheme of Borobudur, but instead found a hagiography of Sir Stamford Raffles who has his place in the story of Borobudur, but surely only a bit part given he came along about a thousand years after it was built.