Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shravanabelagola - Gomateshwara

Name : Gomateshwara

Location : Shravanabelagola, Hassan District situated 158 km away from Bangalore

Description : Gomateshwara or Bahubali is a monolithic statue standing at 60 feet (18 m) above a hill in a place called Shravanabelagola. The statue was built by the Ganga minister and commander Chamundaraya in honour of Lord Bahubali. It was built in the 10th century AD and is the size Jains believe humans used to be. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, devotees and tourists from all over the world flock to the statue once in 12 years for an event known as Mahamastakabhisheka.

This gigantic statue of lord Bahubali, the Jain saint, is carved out of a single block of granite and stands majestically on top of a hill. For centuries, Shravanabelagola has remained a great Jain center and thousands of pilgrims flock to see the magnificent, gigantic statue. The saint is shown completely nude, in the Jain custom. It is 17 m. (55 ft) high and is visible from a distance of 30km.

This statue is regarded as one of the largest monolithic statues in the world. It was created around 983 AD by Chavundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King, Rachamalla (Raachmalla SathyaVaak IV 975-986 AD). The neighbouring areas have Jaina bastis and several images of the Jaina Thirthankaras. One can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill.

Festivals : At Shravanabelagola the Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years, when the image of Gomateshwara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Murudeshwara Temple

Name : Murudeshwara Temple

Location : Murudeshwara is a town in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India.

Deity : "Murudeshwara" is another name of the Hindu god Shiva.

Description : Famous for the world's tallest Shiva statue, this beach town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murudeshwara Temple.

This temple is built on the Kanduka Hill which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is a temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva, and a 20-storied Gopura is being constructed on the temple. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple.

Murudeshwara Fort : A fort present behind the temple is said to have been renovated by Tipu Sultan.

Statue of Lord Shiva : A huge towering statue of Lord Shiva, visible from great distances, is present in the temple complex. It is the tallest statue of Shiva in the world.[1][2] The statue is 123 feet (37 m) in height, and took about 2 years to build. The statue was built by Shivamogga's Kashinath and his son Sridhar and several other sculptors, at a cost of approximately 10 million Rupees. The idol is designed such that it gets the sun light directly and thus appears sparkling.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Junagadh Hill Temples

Name : Junagadh Hill Temples

Location : Junagadh, Gujarat

Description : The hill, ascended 10,000 steps, is reputedly covered with medicinal herbs. It holds the shrine of many faiths.

1.There is a mosque at the foot of the hill.

2.4,500 steps up is a Jain temple on 1st Mountain.

3.A thousand steps further is the temple of Ambaji on 2nd Mountain.

4.Shree Gorakhnath Samadhi on the 3rd Mountain

5.At the top, is the great temple of Shree Dattatreya.

Website :

Amba Mata Temple

Name : Amba Mata Temple

Location : Mount Girnar, Junagadh, Gujarat

Description : A highly revered pilgrimage which attracts thousand of pilgrims every year, Junagadh is one of the most picturesque town in India. Dotted with historical monuments and religious places, the small town situated at the base of the holy Girnar mountain makes an interesting destination. The pilgrimage site of Mount Girnar is a popular place to visit. An old wall, much of which is now missing, surrounds the city.

At the summit of the mountain is the temple of Amba Mata. This Hindu temple is dedicated to an incarnation of the mother Goddess. Newly married couples come here to be blessed by the Goddess and thereby be assured of eternal conjugal bliss. Dating back to the 12th century, it is said that a visit to this temple guarantees a happy marriage. There are good views from the top of the mountain.

Kalkaji mandir, Delhi

Name : Kalkaji mandir

Location : The temple is situated on a hill and is dedicated to Kali. Situated beyond the commercial complex of Nehru Place, Delhi.

Description : Kalkaji mandir is very famous and has numerous devotees thronging it on many religious occasions, throughout the year. Small red flags decorate the temple then, and women outnumber men among the devotees. Folklore is replete with tales of the Kalkaji temple, so much so that one does not know where legend ends and history begins.

This is a very old temple and the oldest part was built up in 1764 A.D. The Kali Temple in Kalkaji boasts of an existence of 3,000 years, although the oldest surviving portion of it dates to 1764-1771 when the Marathas were in power. Looking at the present-day Kalkaji temple one may find it hard to believe that this shrine to Kali is an antique one, where perhaps even the Pandavs and Kauravs had worshiped during the reign of Yudhisthir, whose citadel of Indraprastha had the fabled fairy gates of which bards sang, much like Homer of old, right up to the time of Prithviraj Chauhan.

There is a very distinctive feeling there and the devotees are overwhelmed by light, which stay during the whole night. The power of Ma Kali is ambiguous but powerful. Devotees also try to meditate there and a spectacular tantric aarati is held at about 7 pm. The temple is also quite near to the Bahai Temple, which is just opposite on the other side of a big road.

Kamakhya Temple, assam

Name : Kamakhya Temple

Location : Kamakhya is located on a hill - Neelachala Parvat or Kamagiri near the city of Guwahati in Assam.

Legend 1: Once when Parvati's father King Daksha organised a yagna, he did not invite his daughter and son-in-law to participate in it. Parvati, who was angry at this treatment of her father, went to her father's place to ask the reason for it. Daksha insulted Parvati again by calling Shiva poor and wild. Being the ideal consort of Shiva, Parvati could not bear the fact that her husband was being insulted in front of the guests. She immediately jumped into the yagna fire out of shame and anger and killed herself. Knowing this, Lord Shiva, became very angry and came to Daksha's palace. On seeing the dead body of his wife, he was so enraged that, he lifted the body on his shoulder and started dancing the tandav (the dance of destruction). The dance continued for several days and the earth was on the brink of being destroyed.

Then, on the appeal of all the other gods and goddesses, Lord Vishnu with the help of his chakra, started cutting Goddess Parvati's body. It is said that the parts of Parvati's body fell at different parts of the country, which are all considered centers of power or Shakti peeth. The reproductive organ of Goddess Parvati is said to have fallen atop the Neelachal hill in Guwahati and that is where the Kamakhya temple stands now.

Legend 2 : Another legend says that the demon Narakasura fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya once and he wanted to marry her. But as a goddess cannot marry a demon or asura, Goddess Kamakhya played a trick to save herself. She laid a condition that she would marry him only if he builds a temple for her within one night. Narakasura agreed to it and almost finished building the temple overnight. This scared Goddess Kamakhya and before the final steps of the temple were completed, a cock was sent to cry cock-a-doodle-do to announce the arrival of the morning, before it was actually dawn. This made Narakasura very angry and he killed the cock on that spot. But according to the condition Narakasura couldn't marry Goddess Kamakhya after that. It is said that the present Kamakhya temple is the same that Narakasura had made for the Goddess.

Legend 3 : The supreme creative power of Bhrahma was challenged by Shakti, the mother Goddess, and that Bhrahma could thereafter create, only with the blessings of the Yoni, as the sole creative principle. After much penance, Bhrahma brought down a luminous body of light from heaven and placed it within the Yoni circle, which was created by the Goddess and placed at Kamarupa Kamakhya in Guwahati.

The Temple Structure : The Kamakhya Temple has a beehive like shikhara. Some of the sculptured panels seen here are of interest. There are images of Ganesha, Chamundeswari, dancing features etc. The temple is a natural cave with a spring. Down a flight of steps to the bowel of earth, is located a dark, mysterious chamber. Here, draped with a silk sari and covered with flowers, is kept the "matra yoni".

There is no image of Shakti here. Within a corner of a cave in the temple, there is a sculptured image of the Yoni of the Goddess, which is the object of reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist.

Temple description : This temple honour the Mother Goddess Kamakhya, the essence of female energy. It is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas of Goddess Durga. The temple is a natural cave with a spring. Down a flight of steps to the bowel of earth, is located a dark, mysterious chamber. Here, draped with a silk sari and covered with flowers, is kept the "matra yoni".

The Temple was rebuilt in 1665 after being destroyed by Muslim invaders, but its origins are much older than that. It was probably an ancient Khasi sacrificial site, sacrifices are still very much part of worshiping here. Group of devotees arrive each morning with goats to offer to Shakti.

Festivals :
1.Durga Puja is celebrated annually during Navaratri in the month of September-October. It is a three day festival attracting several visitors.
2.A unique festival observed here is the Ambubasi / Ambubachi (Ameti) fertility festival wherein it is believed that the Goddess (mother Earth) undergoes her menstrual period.

Vaishno Devi

Name : Vaishno Devi

Location : It is nestled in the mighty Trikuta mountain 61 kilometers north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The shrine is visited all through the year, but the path is difficult during the winters due to snowfall.

The Legend : As the legend goes, more than 700 years ago Vaishno Devi a devotee of Lord Vishnu, used to pray to Lord Rama and had taken vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric (demon-God) tried to behold Her. Making use of his tantric powers, Bhairon Nath was able to see Her going towards the Trikuta mountains and gave chase. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate Her, the reason why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when the demon-God located Her.
On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.

The Yatra : The Yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the Darbar. One kilometer away from Katra, is a place known as Banganga, where Mata quenched her thirst and at 6 km., the holy cave at Adhkawari. After 6 km. of trekking, the yatries reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months.

Darshan : The journey amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem se bolo, Jai Mata Di'. There are images of three deities - The Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi. They appear in the form of Pindis.

Puruhutika Devi and Manikyambha Devi Temple

Name : Puruhutika Devi and Manikyambha Devi Temple

Location : Ratnagiri Hills.
Annavaram temple is located at a distance of 125 KM from Visakhapatnam and 80 KM from Rajahmundry.

Deity : Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. The name of the Goddess is Ananta-lakshmi Satyavathi Ammavaru.

Legend : According to the puranas, the presiding deity of the place blesses the devotees with Anina Varam (Wanted Boon) the place is called Annavaram.

The hillock by the side of the village is considered to be very sacred. Meruvu the Lord of the hills and his consort Menaka did great penance and begot two sons by the grace of Lord Vishnu. One was named Bhadra and the other Ratnakara. Bhadra pleased Lord Vishnu with his devotion and penance and with his grace became Bhadrachalam on which Lord Sri Rama had permanently settled. Ratnakara desired to emulate his brother and succeeded in pleasing Lord Vishnu by his penance to settle on him as Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy, Ratnakara remaining as Ratnagiri hill.

The temple of Sri Veera Venkata Satya-narayana Swamy is the main temple on the Ratnagiri hill. There is also a temple of Sri Rama and the shrines of Vanadurga and Kanaka Durga nearby. The temple of grama-devatha (village deity) is in the village at the foot of the hill. The presiding deity installed along with Shiva represents the oneness of Shiva and Vishnu.

Architecture : The Akriti of any temple is, according to the Agni Purana, merely a manifestation of the Prakriti. According to this the chariot of the temple is intended as a symbol of the Seven Lokas and the seven Lokhas above with, the garbhalaya of the Lord, at the heart’s center ruling over the entire Universe.

The temple at Annavaram has been constructed to depict this idea concretely. The front side of the temple depicts the chariot. The Meru on the floor with the pillar at the center, and the idols at the top are intended to bring forth the idea that the Lord not only remains at the heart’s center but also permeates the entire universe. The wheels depicting the Sun and the Moon serve to remind us that this Juggernaut moves on the wheels of time, and goes on for ever and ever, Thus the Annavaram temple satisfies both the ritualistic values and the spiritual aspirations of the devotees.”

Festivals : Kalyanam festival in May, Devi Navaratri festival in September, the Swayamvara Vardhanti of Sraavana Suddha Ekadashi Day, Srirama Kalyana, Kanakadurga Yatra, Prabha Utsavam, Teppa Utsavam and Jalatoranam.

Bhadrakali Temple, Warangal

Name : Bhadrakali Temple

Location : Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

Description : Set on a hilltop between Hanumakonda and Warangal, the Bhadrakali temple is noted for its stone image of the Goddess Kali. She is depicted with eight arms and carries a weapon in each hand. Bhadrakali Cheruvu is adjacent to this temple.

Major Attractions of Bhadrakali Temple : High point of Bhadrakali Temple is an artificial lake of 2 ½ kms radius in the vicinity of the temple. Number of natural rock formations in the surroundings add to the spiritual charm of the temple and are the most dominant feature of the temple. Some of the unique shaped rocks are said to carry immense spiritual powers. The structure of the temple is said to be 250 years old. Though the image of the deity is called the Bhadrakali, the goddess is said to have been transformed by the mantras into a very rare form called the Tripura Sundari, which includes the Kali form. Tripura Sundari is regarded as the supreme manifestation of Prakriti - the feminine power which is the vital energy of the universe. Literal meaning of Tripura Sundari is 'The Beauty of the Three Worlds' or more precisely the three Cites or 'Pura'.

Best Time to Visit Bhadrakali Temple : The best time to visit the famous Bhadrakali Temple in Warangal is the Telegu month of ‘Sravana’ which corresponds to the month of August - September according to Gregorian Calendar. At this time a festival is organised and the deity is aesthetically decorated in various forms. Housing about 8 major and 12 minor temples surrounding mountains of Bhadrakali Temple exude a sacred aura when a large number of devotees gather to offer prayers.

People who visit Bhadrakali Temple also visit Hanamkonda Fort which is just a kilometer away from the another well known thousand pillared Hanamkonda Temple. Inside the fort is the Siddeshwara Temple housing a small Linga shrine.

Simhachalam - Germany

Name : Simhachalam

Location : Zielberg, Jandelsbrunn, Germany

Deity : Prahlada-Narsimhadeva

Description : Whilst in India there are many temples (especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh) that exclusively worship Laxmi-Narsimhadeva, this ISKCON Hill temple worships Prahlada-Narsimhadeva and hence directs the mind to the relationship between Bhakta and Bhakta-Pala, the devotee and the Protector of the devotee. In attempting to meditate on, and better understand that relationship, there are many lessons for those of us who wish to more fully enter into our own personal relationship with God.

For an onlooker the form of Narsimhadeva does not seem to be the image of grace, beauty and loving kindness one would expect of any manifestation of God. But appearances - even those of a loving God - must be understood through the Veda; not with a mind grasping vainly for comprehension.

That, of course, is one aspect underlying the avatara of Narasimha: that His startling lionesque appearance was entirely new; that neither man nor demigod had set eyes upon such a form before. The hate-filled antagonists at the heart of the lila didn’t know what to make of Him. And when he roared, even the battle-hardened trembled.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Shikoku Pilgrimage

Name : The Shikoku Pilgrimage

Location : Shikoku Island Japan

Description : This is a pilgrimage of 88 temples on the island of Shikoku, Japan. It is believed all 88 temples were visited by the famous Buddhist monk Kūkai, who was born in Zentsūji, Shikoku in 774. However, Kukai only mentions visiting two of them in his own extant writings.

In addition to the 88 "official" temples of the pilgrimage, there are over 200 bangai — temples not considered part of the official 88. To complete the pilgrimage, it is not necessary to visit the temples in order; in some cases it is even considered lucky to travel in reverse order. The pilgrimage is traditionally completed on foot, but modern pilgrims use cars, taxis, buses, bicycles, or motorcycles. The walking course is approximately 1,200km long and can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to complete. "Henro" is the Japanese word for pilgrim, but the inhabitants of Shikoku call the pilgrims o-henro-san. They are often recognizable by their white clothing, sedge hats, and walking sticks. Many pilgrims begin and complete the journey by visiting Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture, which was settled by Kukai and remains the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. The 21km walking trail up to Koya-san still exists, but most pilgrims use the train.

In addition to the main pilgrimage on the island of Shikoku, there are miniature versions of the pilgrimage north of Takamatsu on the island of Shōdoshima, and on the grounds of Ninna-ji Temple in Kyoto. A much larger scale imitation of the Shikoku pilgrimage is located on Chita peninsula, near Nagoya.

Stages :

Shikoku literally means "four provinces", those of Awa, Tosa, Iyo, and Sanuki, reorganised during the Meiji period into the prefectures of Tokushima, Kōchi, Ehime, and Kagawa. The pilgrim's journey through these four provinces is likened to a symbolic path to enlightenment, with temples 1–23 representing the idea of awakening (発心 hosshin?), 24–39 austerity and discipline (修行 shugyō?), 40–65 attaining enlightenment (菩提 bodai?), and 66–88 entering nirvana (涅槃 nehan?).

Equipment :

The pilgrim's traditional costume comprises a white shirt (白衣 oizuru?), conical Asian hat (すげ笠 suge-kasa?), and kongō-zue (金剛杖?). This may be supplemented by a wagesa (輪袈裟?). The henro also carries a bag (ずだ袋 zuda-bukuro?) containing name slips (納札 osame-fuda?), prayer beads (数珠 juzu?) (also known as nenju (念珠?)), a nōkyō-chō (納経帳?) to collect shuin (朱印?), incense sticks (線香 senkō?), and coins used as offerings (お賽銭 o-saisen?). The more religiously-minded henro may also carry a book of sutras (経本 kyōbon?) and go-eika (ご詠歌?) set with a bell.

Rites :

Upon arrival at each temple the henro washes before proceeding to the Hondō. After offering coins, incense, and the osame-fuda, the Heart Sutra (般若心経 Hannya Shingyō?) is chanted along with repetition of the Mantra of the main image (本尊 honzon?) and the Mantra of Light (光明真言 Kōmyō Shingon?). After kigan and ekō prayers, the henro proceeds to the secondary temple (大師堂 Daishidō?). Coins and a fuda are similarly offered, and again the Heart Sutra is chanted, along with repetition of the Gohōgō Mantra, namu-Daishi-henjō-kongō.

Website :

Cycle Trip to 88 Shikoku Temples

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

Name : Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

Location :

This temple is located on Doi Kong Mu hill to the west of Mae Hong Son city in Thailand.

Description :

Standing on top of Doi Kong Mu hill and visible from most places in Mae Hong Son town is the Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, a Burmese style temple founded in 1860. The temple comprises of several structures including two chedis and two viharns. The atmosphere atop the hill is one of tranquility and serenity.

Two large chedis

The oldest structures of the temple are two large whitewashed chedis (stupas). The largest chedi was built in 1860. Its lower section comprises of several octagonal shaped tiers of receding size. Around the base are niches enshrining images of the Buddha. The chedi is topped with a golden spire. It enshrines the ashes of Phra Moggallana, one of the chief disciples of the Buddha.

The smaller chedi enshrines the ashes of the first governor of Mae Hong Son, who built the structure in 1872. The lower section comprises of several square shaped tiers of diminishing size. At each of its four corners is a Chinthe, a lion standing guard accompanied by a Naga, the mythological snake. Niches standing in front of the chedi enshrine Burmese style Buddha images. The chedi is topped with a golden spire.

Burmese style assembly halls

Attached to the larger of the two chedis is a small, simple viharn, an assembly hall with a very ornate, multi tiered Burmese style roof comprising of several sections. Attached to the roofs ends are delicate Burmese style ornamental work metal sheets.

Away from the two chedis stands a larger Burmese style viharn. As opposed to the Lanna temples of the North and the Rattanakosin temples of Central Thailand, the floor plan of the viharn is on an horizontal axis, allowing a wide view of the building when approached from the front. The roof comprises of several sections. At the center is a Pyatthat, a very ornate Burmese style structure consisting of multiple tiers of receding size. The Pyatthat is topped with a hti, a Burmese style finial. The fairly simple interior enshrines the principal Buddha image in subduing Mara posture, as well as several other images.

Other structures

Higher up the hill overlooking Mae Hong Son is a Buddha image in subduing Mara posture, seated on a high pedestal. The image is guarded by a pair of white and gold guardian Chinthe lions. On top of the hill is another small temple building topped with a Pyatthat roof. The stairs are guarded by mythological Naga serpents. In front of it is a large standing Buddha image wearing a golden robe.

Panoramic views of Mae Hong Son and Burma

The top of Doi Kong Mu hill provides 360 degree views of Chong Kham Lake, Mae Hong Son, the Pai valley and the airport to one side and the forested hills of Burma to the other side. The hill is a popular place to watch the sunrise and sunset. At sunrise the valley is often covered in early morning mist. At sunset the sun disappears behind the Burmese mountains. Near the carpark is a small coffee shop.

How to get to the Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

The temple is located on top of Doi Kong Mu hill, almost one kilometer West of Chom Kham Lake and Mae Hong Son town. The easiest and most comfortable way to get there is by tuk tuk from town. Alternatively, walk to the top. Two paths lead up the 250 meter high hill. One starts at the Wat Phra Non, the other at the Wat Muo Taw.

Entrance fee & opening hours

The temple opens daily during daylight hours. Admission is free, donations are highly appreciated.

Website :

Bijli Mahadev Temple

Name : Bijli Mahadev Temple

Location : Kullu, Uttaranchal

Legend : Standing across the river, high on a projecting bluff, the Bijli Mahadev Temple is flanked by a 20 mtr high rod. According to a legend, the flagpole atop the temple draws blessings in the form of lightning which could shatter the shivalingam. It is said if a paste of butter and barley-gram is applied to the broken shivalingam, it will fully mend and return to its original form. At least once a year the idol of Shiva in the temple is supposed to be shattered by lightning, then miraculously repaired by the temple pujari (priest).

Description : This temple houses the pictorial view of the luxuriant valley below. Placed at a height of 2450 meters, the Pahari style temple architecture offers an eye-catching scenario not only to the ardent devotees but also to the frequent traveler.

A holy darshan of the temple requires a hefty voyage of three kilometers on foot, which is quite tiresome. The uphill path towards this sacred shrine is flanked by pine trees that make the stride a pleasant one.

Jagannathi Devi Temple

Name : Jagannathi Devi Temple

Location : This temple is in Bhekhli village, 3-km from Kullu, Uttranchal. It's a stiff climb but from the temple one can catch fine views of the town.

Deity : The deity in the temple is also known as Bhuweneshawari, who is considered as the sister of Lord Vishnu.

Legend : This pretty shrine also is linked with a fabulous legend. It says that, once a shepherd boy accidentally noticed that two girls danced to the tune of his magical flute and he caught hold of one among them. The goddess revealed her identity and agreed to settle in the village at Bekhli.

Description : This temple is believed to have been constructed 1500 years ago. The Jagannathi Devi Temple or the Bekhli Temple is placed at an altitude of 1800 meter. The 90 minutes ascend to the top is rewarded with the panoramic view of the surroundings and the holy dharshan of the gorgeous deity. The sculptures and images enshrined in the shrine show Rajasthani and Gaddi tribal influence.

Raghunathji temple

Name : Raghunathji temple

Location : Uttranchal. About a km from Dhalpur in Raghunathpura or Sultanpur. To reach the temple, cross the main road outside the bus stand and follow the lane up the hill opposite the Kailash cinema.

Legend : The temple is dedicated to lord Rama. According to a local legend, Lord Rama worshipped here after his victory over Lanka. The temple compound also hosts Annapurna Devi Temple, Hanuman Temple, Shankaracharya Temple and Garud Temple.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chamundi Temple Mysore

Name : Chamundi Hill Temple

Location : 3 kms from Mysore, Karnataka

Deity : Goddess Chamundeswari

No of steps : about 1000 nos.

Legend : Legend has it that that the demon Mahishasura, the king of the area that is currently Mysore, was killed by the Goddess Chamundeswari (also Chamundi) after a fierce battle. The hills hence got their name and a temple of the Goddess was built on the top. The temple has a very beautiful Idol of the Goddess wearing a garland of skulls.

Description : The temple has always been patronised by the rulers of Mysore. In earlier days, the Maharajas of Mysore would ride the ceremonial Dasara elephant during the annual Dasara festival, but after India gained independence, the Idol of Goddess Chamundi is taken on an elephant.

Enroute to the top, the steps pass the large monolithic statue of Nandi the Bull. Nandi is the vahana (Vehicle) of Lord Shiva. Climbing gets easier soon afterwards.

A panoramic view of the city is seen from the top of the hills. Among other landmarks, you can see the Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, the Mysore Palace, the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. At dusk, the view of the city is especially beautiful, and on Sunday evenings and during the Dasara festival, the illuminated Mysore Palace glitters like gold.

Mysore got its name from the demon Mahishasura. It was earlier known as 'Mahisuru,' meaning Mahisha's city. Gradually it came to be called Mysooru and later anglicised to Mysore. There is a demand and proposal now (December 2005) that the name of city be changed from Mysore to Mysooru the original Indian form.

Website :

Bountiful Utah Temple

Name : Bountiful Utah Temple

Location : Sitting high above the city among the foothills of Bountiful's east bench, the Bountiful Utah Temple offers a captivating valley view extending to the Great Salt Lake. The temple features a breathtaking circular columned atrium that reaches from the lower parking level to the main parking level and an elegant portico at the entrance with graceful columns and arches. A cascading water feature flows on the east side of the temple underneath the Holiness to the Lord plaque.

Temple Facts : The Bountiful Utah Temple was the eighth temple built in Utah and the first built in Davis County.

The floor plan created for the Bountiful Utah Temple was adapted and used for the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple.

The Bountiful Utah Temple is one of two temples dedicated by President Howard W. Hunter during his brief time as president of the Church. (The other is the Orlando Florida Temple.)

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bountiful Utah Temple, some 7,500 people gathered on the site with another 2,500 viewing the proceedings by remote video. The crowd was so large, some attenders opted to sit on the steep hillside east of the site.

Website :

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Phnom Bakeng

Name : Phnom Bakeng
Location : Angkor Temple complex, Cambodia.
Thirteen hundred metres north of the western axial entrance to Angkor Wat and 400 metres south of the southern gate of Angkor Thom, to the west of the road, one can see a wide track in the forest ascending a natural hill of 60 metres in height. This is Phnom Bakheng, the centre of the first kingdom of Angkor, or Yasodharapura, which formed a square of about 4 kilometres on each side and of which, travelling on the main road from Siem Reap.

Description : The rulers of Angkor constructed many temple mountains, but Phnom Bakeng is all natural stone. The temple on the summit was built in the late 9th or early 10th century by Jacawarman I (or Yasovarman I). At the top of the hillock are 5 successive rows of 12 sanctuaries each. Here the Royal Linga - phallic symbol of the King in his divine state - was placed.

On his accession in 889, Yasovarman abandoned Hariharalaya (Roluos), the rudimentary capital of his predecessors situated on the plain, and became the first, seduced by the mysticism of the hills, to find his "Meru" (the seat of the gods) and his "Ganga" (the river Ganges) symbolised here in the hill of Phnom Bakheng and the river of Stung Siem Reap - the latter probably being diverted to follow the eastern boundary of the new city.

The temple has Bakheng pyramid, 4 nandis and 36 towers. The description can be seen on the website :

Attraction : The south-eastward view over the forest to the Angkor Wat towers is unequalled and the sunsets to the west over the countryside are often spectacular.

Phnom Bakheng is best climbed at the end of the day or early in the morning, either by its immediate steep slope or by the gently winding path bearing to the left, formerly taken by tourist elephants - which is a classic and very pleasant walk. From the summit one can enjoy a view stretching across the plain - dominated by the two other peaks that are also each crowned with a temple by Yasovarman; - Phnom Krom to the south, close to the Tonle Sap lake, and Phnom Bok to the north-east, standing out from the distant dark line of the Phnom Kulen - and then the plain of water of the western baray, the forest of Angkor Thom and the majestic composition of Angkor Wat, lying golden in the setting sun.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Name : Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Location : Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are rock cut caves excavated in two adjacent hills that rise abruptly from vast expanse of barren land. Both the hills stand separated only by a narrow road. Udayagiri hill which is 135 feet tall was earlier called Kumari Parvata whereas 118 feet high Khandagiri hill was known as Kumara Parvata. The hills are situated at a distance of around 6 km from Bhubaneswar.

Description : These were the Once School of Monks. The sandstone hills were not strong enough for cutting and the excavation have left them exposed to damage.There are 33 rock cut caves in all. 18 are in Udayagiri cave whereas 15 are in Khandagiri caves. The magnificent caves are said to be built in the 2nd century during the reign of King Kharavela of Chedi Dynasty. They were carved out as residential places for Jain Monks. They were discovered only in 1825. Many of the caves have beautiful carvings that reveal a lot about its origin and past. Inscription and carvings on the walls show that they once served as Jain Monasteries. Few caves also show connection to Buddhism. Notice that most of the caves are single storied but there are few that are double storied as well.

Udayagiri Caves : Udayagiri Hills which means 'Sunrise Hills'. You will find caves at different levels of the hill. There are 18 caves in Udayagiri starting from the base of the hill itself. All the caves are numbered and many of them are also named. The main and the most attractive caves is situated at the base itself. Named as Rani Gumpha, it is one of the few double storied caves in these hills. 'Rani Gumpha' or 'Queen Cave' is the largest cave. The carvings on the wall generally depict scenes of celebration on king's victorious return. There are religious carving as well as scenes from the royal courts. Jain symbols are also found at many parts. Ganesh Gumpha which is situated directly above Rani Gumpha is another major cave. The hall strongly resembles a Buddhist chaitya hall. The figures on the wall clearly show that they were once the worship halls for Jain monks. Other interesting cave is Bagh Gumpha and Hathi Gumpha. The entrance to the Bagh Gumpha is carved in the shape of a tiger's open mouth and is visually quite splendid. Though Hathi Gumpha is not as appealing as others but it has great importance historically. A 17 line Brahmi inscription tells us about the expeditions and victories of King Kharavela.

Khandagiri Caves : Khandagiri hill houses 15 caves of which Ananta Cave is the most impressive one. Along with the caves, there are a couple of Jain Temples as well. Even these caves are numbered with few are being named. One thing to notice is that most of the caves are named based on the carvings on the walls of the caves. Like Cave 1 and 2 are named 'Tatowa Cave' as there are carvings of two parrots on the door arches. The caves have figures as well inscriptions on the walls. Then comes the main Ananta Gumpha. The cave is named after carvings of two serpents on the entrance. To save the cave from falling, there have been few additions done as a part of restoration work. The carvings on the walls of the cave depict figures of women and children, athletes, lions, bulls and many other animals. The carvings are different in all the caves. Carvings and structure of some caves tells us that they were once used as dormitories for Jain ascetics.

Website :

Tungnath Temple

Name : Tungnath

Location : At this temple at 3,680 mts. The highest Hindu shrine in the Himalayas, 3 kms uphill from Chopta, Thungnath is reached through a path that wends through alpine meadows and rhododendron thickets. An hour's climb from here leads to Chandrashila with its panoramic views. The entire journey and the shrine are located in some of the finest, most picturesque pocket of the Himalayas.

Desription : This Panch Kedar temple is worshipped as Shiva Arm. The peak of Tungnath is the source of three springs that form the river Akashkamini. It is the highest Shiva temple in the World.

The temple comes to sight only a few hundred yards before the finish of the trekking. Standing in the centre of the stone paved platform, under 3,600 metres high summit of Chandrashila (4,090m) the monument is a fine piece of ancient architecture. The strong built and powerful looks of the temple, made with stone, symbolize the power and anger of Lord Shiva.

The idols of Vyas and Kalbhairav stand along the "Shivling" inside the temple. The other four 'Kedar' are beautifully engraved on silver plate. Facing the small, low height gate of the temples, sits Nandi-the divine bull, the vehicle of the Lord. Two small temples, dedicated to Parvati and Kalbhairav embellish the small courtyard, on a flat rock possible to have an idea before starting the construction.

RudraNath Temple

Name : RudraNath. The strange mountain formation when given a close glance resembles the face of Lord Shiva. Hence the place is known as Rudramukh. “Rudra” refers to Lord Shiva and “mukh” means “face”.

Location : 23 km from Gopeshwar, Gaurikund, Uttranchal. Rudranath is sometimes considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach.

Altitude : 2,286 m

Year of Construction : 8th Century AD

Legend : According to the legends of Panch Kedar, this temple shelters the face of Shiva. There is a small rectangular space just outside the sanctum sanctorom. The deity is a Swyam Bhuva (Self Appeared) Shivalinga shaped like a human face formed by the projection of a huge rock. This face has a serene smile and a gaze of pure benevolence in the all-seeing eyes. Measuring about 3 feet from the chin to the top of the jatas, a white cloth remains bound tightly on the crown of Lord Shiva.

The Rudranath temple is believed to be established by the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Legend has it that the Pandavas came to the Himalayan mountains in search of god Shiva, to redeem them of the sins of killing in the epic Kurukshetra war. God Shiva did not want to meet them and escaped in form of a bull in the ground and reentered in parts in the Panch Kedar places: the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the navel and stomach surfacing in Madhyamaheswar, the face showing up at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar. In winter, a symbolic image of Shiva is brought to Gopeshwar for worship. The Doli Yatra starts from Gopeshwar. The Doli Yatris cross Liti Bugyal and Panar and finally reach Pitradhar. The worship of ancestors is done here. Then, after crossing Dhalabni Maidan, the Doli or the symbolic image of Shiva, reaches Rudranath.Here first the Vandevi is worshipped. The local belief is that Vandevi protects the area. The Kheshtra is protected by Vandevi or Vandevatas.

Description :

Rudramukh is located at a height of 2286 meters and is surrounded by supreme natural beauty. The temple is the third temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit, comprising five Shiva temples in the Garhwal region. The other temples in the circuit include: Kedarnath and Tungnath to be visited before Rudranath and Madhyamaheshwar or Madmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar to be visited after Rudranath. The face (mukha) of god Shiva is worshipped as "Nilkanth Mahadeva" here.

Tourists need to trek for fifteen kilometers in order to reach Rudranath from Gopeshwar. The Mandir Committee has a guesthouse where devotees can spend the night if they wish to. A motorable road is present up to the village Sagar — 5 km (3 mi) from Gopeshwar, beyond which a 20 km (12 mi) trek has to be undergone to reach Rudranath. The trek winds through tall grass, oak and rhododendron forests. The trek path is stated to be slippery. Other routes include: an uphill, 17 km (11 mi) trek from Gangolgaon — 3 km (2 mi) from Gopeshwar — through the forest and Panar and Naila shepherd settlements. Another trek route from Gopeshwar to Rudranath passes via Mandal (13 km/8 mi) and then additional 6 km (4 mi) to the Anusuya Devi temple and then another 3 km (2 mi) to Rudranath. The Anusuya Devi temple is home to goddess Anusuya, who is believed to help devotees in distress.

There is a natural ledge overhanging the face of Shiva from where droplets of water fall perennially. The temple is very damp and cold with small puddles here and there. There are a few pieces of flat wood on which the pujari or temple priest and his assistant stand during the performance of the elaborate rituals. The large half open eyes of the deity are kept covered with larger golden coverings. The enormous upturned, golden moustaches transform this face into a terrifying angry face. Every evening, in elaborate worship, the mask is removed from the face of Shiva to give a brief glimpse of a rarely-sighted aspect of Shiva. This is the only temple of Shiva where his face is his symbol.

There are numerous sacred water tanks ("Kund") near the temple. These include Surya-kund, Chandra-kund, Tara-kund, Mana-Kund etc. Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti are the famous mountain peaks, which provide the backdrop to the temple. The Vaitharini stream or Baitarani or Rudraganga flows near the temple, which has a grey stone idol of Rudranath. The river is identified with the "river of salvation", where souls of the dead cross to reach the other world. Thus, devotees visit Rudranath to perform rituals of the dead, such as performing a pind offering. Some believe that offering a pind to ancestors here equals offering a hundred million at the holy city of Gaya.

Festivals :

The temple celebrates an annual fair on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Sravan (July–August). The fair is attended mainly by locals. The priests at the Rudranath temple are Bhatts and tiwaris of Gopeshwar village. At Nandikund (2,439 m/8,002 ft), on the trekking route to Rudranath, devotees worship old historic swords protruding from the rocks, believed to be of Pandavas.

Website :

Baijnath Temple

Name : Baijnath Temple

Location : Baijnath Temple, located at a distance of 19 kms from Kausani, Uttranchal. At an elevation of 1126 mt. in the Garur valley of Katyur is the complex of Baijnath Temple.

Deity : Shiva & Parvati

Description : It is a 12th century temple on the banks of Gomti River. Built by the Katyuri kings there are ancient temples of Shiva, Ganesh, Parvati, Chandika, Kuber, Surya and Brahama. The Baijnath Temples dating back to the 12th and 13th century are constructed of stone. The temple complex exhibits the amazing architecture of the age. The main temple that houses the beautiful idol of Parvati is chiseled in black stone. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and Parvati were married at the confluence of River Gomati and Garur Ganga.

Madhyamaheshwar Temple

Name : Madhyamaheshwar Temple

Location : Situated in Rudraprayag, the Madmaheshwar Temple is one of the Five Kedar Temples.

Deity :
Lord Shiva is enshrined in Madhyamaheshwar Temple.

Legend : There is a legendary connection of this place to the birth of Lord Shiva, According to mythical source the stomach of Lord Shiva emerged from here. So devotees throng the temple premise during Shiva Ratri and other festivals related to Lord Shiva.

Description : Natural calamities and foreign invasions have contributed in the slow destruction of temples, but by conjoint effort of the inhabitants and Government these temples were slowly recovered and reconstructed. One such is the Madmaheshwar Temple.

The unique North Indian architecture is noticeable in the construction of this temple focusing on the legendary issues and stories of Kings and warriors. The glorious temple is surrounded by natural vegetation of unparalleled scenic elegance. This sanctified place reflects the spirit of religiosity in India, speaking much of its endless panoramic pilgrim spots and heritage points.

If you want to implore the spiritual vista of India and indulge in sacramental acts, no other place would be more suitable. For a pilgrim as well as a common man, Madmaheshwar Temple is an apt place.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Name : Xochicalco. The name "Xochicalco" means "in the house of Flowers" in the Nahuatl language.
Location : In the western part of the Mexican state of Morelos. The site is located 38 km southwest of Cuernavaca, about 76 miles by road from Mexico City.

The site is open to visitors all week, from 10am to 5pm, although access to the observatory is only allowed after noon. The apogee of Xochicalco came after the fall of Teotihuacan and it has been speculated that Xochicalco played a part in the fall of the Teotihuacano empire.

The architecture and iconography shows affinities with Teotihuacan, the Maya area, and the Matlatzinca culture of the Toluca Valley. Today some residents of the villages closest to the ruins of Xochicalco such as Cuentepec and Tetlama in eastern Morelos speak Nahuatl.

The main ceremonial center is atop an artificially leveled hill, with remains of residential structures, mostly unexcavated, on long terraces covering the slopes.

The site was occupied by 200 BC, with the most notable architecture built between about 700 and 1000 AD. At its peak, the city may have had a population of up to 20,000 people.

Of special interest are sculptured reliefs on the sides of some buildings. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent has fine stylized depictions of that deity in a style which includes apparent influences of Teotihuacan and Maya art. It has been speculated that Xochicalco may have had a community of artists from other parts of Mesoamerica.

Other monuments at the site include several other step-pyramid temples, palaces, three ballcourts, sweat-baths, an unusual row of circular altars, and a cave with steps carved down into it. The site also has some free-standing sculptured stelae; others were removed from their original location and are now on display in the INAH museum in Mexico City and at the site museum.

Xochicalco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist destination.

Another Unexcavated new Temple :

A Prehispanic roadway that leads to a temple built atop Coatzin Hill, in Xochicalco is being explored by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The study of the nearly 240 meters-long ceremonial road broadens the research area of the site located in the Mexican state of Morelos.

Labors began clearing the way in July 2010, thanks to the 1 million MXP inversion provided by the Temporary Employment Program (PET) developed by INAH and the Social Development Secretariat (SEDESOL). The ancient paved roadway that leads to the top of La Bodega or Coatzin Hill, to the east of the monumental Prehispanic city of Xochicalco was cleaned from weed. An unexcavated temple is found there, with features similar to those of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.

Other contribution to the study of this peripheral area, as said by the archaeologist, is that “we have more elements to affirm the hypotheses of Quetzalcoatl being the most important deity of the site; some specialists affirm it was Tlaloc and other that it was Quetzalcoatl”.

The temple yet to be excavated was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl is the highest and it is located at 1,325 meters above the sea level; it had a panoramic view of the site and was a protective space as well, having walls and moats that guarded it, he detailed.

Other element of the non-excavated construction that supports the hypothesis of Xochicalco being dedicated to Quetzalcoatl is the east-west orientation of the roadway and the temple atop.


Name : Cholula

Location : Cholula, Puebla, Mexico

Deity : Quetzalcoatl

It is the world's largest monument and largest Pre-Columbian pyramid by volume.

The temple-pyramid complex was built over many dozens of generations, from the 2nd century BC to the early 16th century, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 450 by 450 m (1476x1476 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft). According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in fact the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at 4.45 million m, almost one third larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The Aztecs believed that Xelhua built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

Today the pyramid at first appears to be a natural hill surmounted by a church. This is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of the Remedies), also known as the Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios (Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Remedies), which was built by the Spanish in colonial times (1594) on the site of a pre-Hispanic temple. The church is a major Catholic pilgrimage destination, and the site is also used for the celebration of indigenous rites. Many ancient sites in Latin America are found under modern Catholic holy sites, due to the practice of the Catholic Church repurposing local religious sites.

Because of the historic and religious significance of the church, which is a designated colonial monument, the pyramid as a whole has not been excavated and restored, as have the smaller but better-known pyramids at Teotihuacan. Inside the pyramid are some five miles (8 km) of tunnels excavated by archaeologists.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Name : Lingaparvata

Location : Laos

Legend :
It is considered the Natural Linga of the World.

Long before King Divanika erected his stele in 456CE proclaiming Kuruksetra to be a holy place (tirtha) tribal people had gathered in the shadows of Lingaparvata looking in awe upon its lofty pinnacle reaching into the sky. But before Lingaparvata ever became known as Linga Mountain in praise of Lord Shiva this natural outcropping reaching 4645 feet into the sky was held in the minds of all indigenous people of the area as a great earth spirit where fire rituals and human sacrifices were a common practice.

Likewise in ancient India the greatest stories of mountains and gods were repeated orally for countless millennia until finally they were put in verse and the Book of Manu, Upanishads, Puranas, Rig Veda, Mahabharata, Ramayana and many more were all recorded for posterity. Today when we read these stories they seem like impossible accounts of how the gods of long ago traveled freely between earth's mountain tops and the heavens. And in a wholly desacralized cosmos where societies and nations have become predominantly secularized in their approach to existence, these ancient stories of gods and mountains are looked upon as fanciful myths without having any relationship to events taking place in the 21st century.

The gods of olden times have passed down to our civilizations of today their myths and legends by which to base our moral judgments and heroic deeds upon. If council and an audience with the gods were to be had it most likely would have taken place on a mountain top. These mountain abodes of the gods are well known and today they still hold special significance for cultures all around the world. In India and Tibet there are two mountains that are so revered for their acting as the home to Lord Shiva that sacred ceremonies are still conducted in their presence. One of the most sacred mountains in the world is Mt Kailash in Tibet and in southern India it is the sacred hill of Arunachela. Arunachela is regarded as a manifestation of Shiva himself and Mt Kailash is Shiva's actual abode.

In Laos, Lingaparvata became a focal point for austerities to Shiva in the fifth century under the vocable of Bhadresvara, the god of the Chams at My Hon-Son on the Champa (Vietnam) coast. The city of Kuruksetra and then later called Sreshthapura was the holiest ancient city for kings to make pilgrimage (tirtha yatra). In fact a 250 mile royal road runs from Angkor Wat directly to Vat Phu indicating there was a direct link to Vat Phu from the new Ankorean center.

From a distance Lingaparvata appears as a linga or even a small temple set on the summit where rituals to the gods would be performed. There is a Chinese document from the Sui dynasty (589-616CE) that mentions a temple on the summit of a mountain named Ling-kia-po-p'o, which is guarded by a thousand soldiers and consecrated to a spirit named Po-to-li. It was Georges Coedes, the famous French epigraphists, who transliterated Ling-po-p'o into Lingaparvata.

This was Shiva's pillar of fire that endlessly went into the heavens and endlessly passed down through the earth. Here was the penultimate axis of the world and once the Brahmins from India saw this outcropping they could do none other than name this mountain Lingaparvata. This one linga would be impossible to move, and would provide the devotee with a substantive feeling of awe simply by recognizing the latent power of this mountain made it possible to communicate with the gods. It was on this mountain that the priests had developed the Cakravartin cosmology that in 400 years would establish the consecration of the Khmer Empire where Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma would be the gods that would establish divine kingship for another 500 years.

If Mt Kailash in Tibet is considered the home of Shiva and Arunachela is considered an actual manifestation of Shiva then I would offer that Lingaparvata could be thought of as the temple of Shiva whereby divine communication with all the gods would take place. My justification for making such a statement and associating Lingaparvata with a temple gateway to meet the gods is by recognizing that the Khmer Empire got its spiritual guidance from the environs of Kuruksetra. The combination of Vat Phu, Lingaparvata, the sacred spring and King Jayavarman IIs inscription at Vat Oubmong indicate an auspicious focal point that merits calling Lingaparvata a temple gate way to the gods. It was in 802CE that King Jayavarman II consecrated the Khmer Empire and he became the "Cakravatin" and established the union between god and king and the beginning of the "Devaraja" cult worship.

Such auspicious and sanctified acts I believe originated at Lingaparvata (Shiva's holy temple to speak to the gods). Coincidentally on the same night of Shivaratri when Shiva married Parvati is also the same night Shiva swallowed the poison brought forth from the churning of the milky ocean and thus saved the world. Shiva stabilized the earth on this night as a result of his communicating with the gods who asked him to save the world. Consequently we can also think of the holy mountain of Lingaparvata as the symbolic representation of Shiva saving the world from oblivion. The world axis (Skamba) held the universe in place and Lingaparvata acted like Mt Mandara; the mythical mountain used to churn the heavens and save the earth so it would not fall into the nether world.

More information about Trekking adventures to LingaParvata is found on the website below :

Prasat Preah Vihear

Name : Prasat Preah Vihear

Location : It is a Khmer temple situated atop a 525-meter cliff in Dângrêk ranges, Cambodia, just across the border from Thailand.

Affording a view for many kilometres across a plain, it has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the Empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Special : Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north-south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the East.

The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is located. The Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear was built in the 9th -12th centuries by successive Khmer kings.

Construction of the first temple on the site began in the early 9th century; it was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. The earliest surviving parts of the temple, however, date from the Koh Ker period in the early 10th century, when the empire's capital was at the city of that name. Today, elements of the Bantey Srei style of the late 10th century can be seen, but most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryvarman II (1113–1150). An inscription found at the temple provides a detailed account of Suryavarman II studying sacred rituals, celebrating religious festivals and making gifts, including white parasols, golden bowls and elephants, to his spiritual advisor, the aged Brahman Divakarapandita.

The Brahman himself took an interest in the temple, according to the inscription, gifting it with a golden statue of a dancing Shiva. The construction of Preah Vihear went on continuously from the 9th to the 12th century. The first construction of Preah Vihear is credited Yasovarman I, who reigned from 889 to 910, but ''a son of Jayavarman II (who reigned from 802 to 850) may have founded Preah Vihear even earlier when he took a fragment of rock from the Lingaparvata Mountain of Wat Phu in Laos to the site of Preah Vihear '' (ROVEDA, 2000:10). (Wat Phu = Vat Phou).

No inscriptions inform about the year of construction. The first stone-construction was probably done in the last part of the 9th century, but the north-south orientated layout of the temple could well have been in use in older structures made by lighter materials.

Religion: Saivite (Bhadresvara version) Preah Vihear was a Hindu temple dedicated Shiva in his aspect of Shikharesvara (Lord of the Summit) and a Bhadresvara linga was installed in the main shrine. Prasat Banteay Srey, Prasat Sek Ta Tuy, Prasat Trapang Khyang from the 10th century were all dedicated to the linga Tribhuvanamahesvara, which is the name of the god of Lingapura

Prasat Premea Chuung Prei

Name : Prasat Premea Chuung Prei

Location : Baray district in Kompong Thom, Cambodia

Prasat Thnot Chun consists of a brick prasat and a large upturned lintel in the Pre Rup style and can be found in the Baray district in Kompong Thom, some 10kms southeast from Santuk, off Route 6. Some 20kms before Kompong Cham on National Route 7 and another 20kms north lies Vat Tuk in the village of Tuk Chha. There are two temples; one at the foot of the hill consisting of three structures and a laterite wall; at the top of the hill are a brick tower, broken gopuras, damaged lions statues and an enclosure.

Pictures courtesy :

Phnom Tamau

Name : Phnom Tamau

Location : It is located forty kilometres south of Phnom Penh on Route 2. Just before you reach Cambodia's largest zoo, there are two small hills, both with brick shrines atop them.

On one hill, the excellent lintel shown left, is of a reclining Vishnu and another with a carving of the Sea of Milk, lies close to a ruined shrine. A brick sanctuary populated by monkeys and a lintel showing a dancing Siva, are situated at the summit of the other hill. Both are popular picnic locations at weekends.

Wat Phou

Name : Wat Phou (Vat Phu)
Location : It is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu Kao, some 6 km from the Mekong river in Champasak province.

There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a linga was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.

The mountain gained spiritual importance from the linga-shaped protuberance on its summit; the mountain itself was therefore considered the home of Shiva, and the river as representing the ocean or the Ganges River.[3] The temple was naturally dedicated to Shiva, while the water from the spring which emerges directly behind the temple was considered sacred.

Wat Phou was a part of the Khmer empire, centred on Angkor to the southwest, at least as early as the reign of Yashovarman I in the early 10th century. Shrestapura was superseded by a new city in the Angkorian period, located directly south of the temple.[4] In the later period, the original buildings were replaced, re-using some of the stone blocks; the temple now seen was built primarily during the Koh Ker and Baphuon periods of the 11th century.

The next terrace has a small shrine to Nandin (Shiva's mount) to the south, in poor condition. The road connecting Wat Phou to Angkor ran south from this temple. Continuing west, successive staircases lead up further terraces; between them stands a dvarapala which has come to be worshipped as king Kammatha, mythical builder of the temple. On the narrow next terrace are the remains of six small shrines destroyed by treasure-hunters.

The east side has three doorways: from south to north, their pediments show Krishna defeating the naga Kaliya; Indra riding Airavata; and Vishnu riding Garuda. The east wall bears dvarapalas and devatas. Entrances to the south and north bear have inner and outer lintels, including one to the south of Krishna ripping Kamsa apart.

Phanom Rung

Name : Phanom Rung or, with its full name, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung (Phanom Rung Stone Castle),

Location : It is a Khmer temple complex set on the rim of an extinct volcano at 1,320 feet above sea level, in Buriram province in the Isan region of Thailand.

It was built in sandstone and laterite in the 10th to 13th centuries. It was a Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva, and symbolises Mount Kailash, his heavenly dwelling.

Architecture :

Architecture :

After the three-leveled lower stairway, the visitor finds himself on the first cruciform platform with a first peek at the main temple. On the right, northward, is Phlab Phla or the White Elephant House. The pavilion is believed to be the place where kings and the royal family would change attire before rituals. Royalty would then enter the Processional Walkway, one of the most impressive elements of the park. It is 160 meters long and bordered by seventy sandstone posts with tops of lotus buds. The Walkway itself is paved with laterite blocks.

The Walkway leads to the first of three naga bridges. The five-headed snakes face all four directions and are from the 12th century. This bridge represents the connection between heaven and earth. The naga bridge leads to the upper stairway, which is divided into five sets. Each set has terraces on the sides. The last terrace is wide, made with laterite blocks. It has a cruciform shape and four small pools. A couple more steps lead to the second naga bridge. It has the same shape as the first one, only smaller. In the middle the remains of an eight petalled lotus carving can be seen.

This final terrace leads to the outer gallery. It probably used to be a wooden gallery with a tiled roof, but only a raised floor of laterite remains. After the outer gallery one reaches the inner gallery, which is divided in long and narrow rooms. It served as a wall around the principal tower. This last gallery leads to the third and last naga bridge, another small copy of the first one.

The bridge leads you directly into the main sanctuary. After the antechamber and the annex, one reaches the principal tower. Double porches lead out in all directions. The inner sanctum used to have the "linga", the divine symbol of Shiva. Currently, only the "somasutra" remains which was used to drain water during religious rites. The entrances have various lintels and icons depicting Hindu religious stories, e.g. the dancing Shiva and the five Yogi's. The southern entrance is guarded by a sandstone statue.

Apart from the main tower, other buildings in the compound are:

* Two brick sanctuaries built around the 10th century, northeast of the tower.
* The minor sanctuary southwest of the tower with a sandstone altar for a sacred image. It was built with sandstone in the 11th century. Prang Noi has only one entrance facing east. The sanctuary is square with indented corners, giving it a round feel.
* Two Bannalai southeast and northeast of the principal tower. The buildings are rectangular and have only one entrance. They were built in the last period, around the 13th century, and used as a library for holy scriptures.

Phnom Kulen

Name : Phnom Kulen

Location : It is a sacred hilltop site 30km from Angkor Wat in Cambodia and a national park of Cambodia. Phnom Kulen is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire and is located some 48km from Siem Reap.Of special religious meaning to Hindus and Buddhists, it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D.

Special : The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu laying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.

Linga 1,000 is located on the mountain, along the Siem Reap River and has a lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.

Terrace Of Sdach Kamlung is a plain terrace having a small ruined temple made of solid brick at the middle; the study proves that the terrace covered by lava for hundreds years.

The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979. Nearby is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest.

Phnom Bok

Name : Phnom Bok

Location : It is a temple in Angkor, the area of Cambodia that was capital of the Khmer Empire.

Built during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910 AD), the temple stands atop a hill northeast of the East Baray, the huge Angkorian reservoir that is now dry. Phnom Bok is one of three hilltop temples built during the king's reign, the others being Phnom Bakheng and Phnom Krom. The sandstone edifice consists of three main towers.

Phnom Krom

Name : Phnom Krom

Location : It is a hilltop temple in Angkor, Cambodia.

The temple was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889 A.D.-910 A.D.). Located 12 kilometers southwest of Siem Reap, it is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

Oriented toward the east, the temple is enclosed by a wall built of laterite blocks. Along the walls' top runs a cornice. Gates bisect the walls at each of the four cardinal directions. Just inside the east gate are four small buildings arrayed in a north-south row, possibly formerly used as crematoria. Inside the walls on the north and south sides are three halls, now collapsed. The temple’s focus is three towers, also in a row running north to south. They sit atop a platform reached by staircases of seven steps. The southern tower is dedicated to Brahma, the central to Shiva, the northern to Vishnu. They are built of sandstone; much of their carving and detail has been lost to erosion.

Phnom Krom is the southernmost of three hilltop temples built in the Angkor region during the reign of Yasovarman. The other two are Phnom Bakheng and Phnom Bok.

Legend : The hill on which Phnom Krom stands is very rocky; local legend has it that the rocks were exposed by the monkey general Hanuman during a hunt for medicine in the Ramayana epic. The area beyond the temple’s west gate affords a spectacular view of the Tonle Sap lake.


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