Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Savitri Temple



Name : Savitri Temple

Location : Pushkar, Ratnagiri Hill, Rajasthan

Legend : According to the Hindu mythology Savitri is the first wife of Lord Brahma. When He was all set to start a Yagna on earth in the place of Pushkar (determined by drooping a lotus flower), Savitri's presence was the prerequisite. But She had kept Him waiting. Lord Brahma, irritated at this, married Gayatri the milkmaid to start the yagna on the most auspicious moment.

Infuriated Savitri cursed that Lord Brahma would not be worshipped anywhere else but Pushkar and only once a year. Then, she immolated herself at the Ratnagiri Hill, where the temple now stands.

Description : Savitri Temple in one of the most renowned one out of 400 temples in Pushkar. Perched on a hillock, Savitri Temple stands just behind the temple of Lord Brahma. A long series of steps lead to the shrine. From the temple you can get a panoramic view of the Pushkar lake, the surrounding temples and the sand dunes.

Website : http://www.mustseeindia.com/Pushkar-Savitri-Temple/attraction/11233

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ramagiri Sri Vaaleeswarar




Name : Ramagiri Sri Vaaleeswarar alias Thiru Arikarai

Location : Ramagiri village is situated in Andhrapradesh, about 95 kms northwest of Chennai, enroute to Puthur from Uthukkottai after crossing Suruttuppalli and Nagalapuram, on the right hand side.

Significance of the Temple :

This temple is one of the five faces of Lord Shiva.
1) Ramagiri alias Thiru Arikarai - Ishana face
2) Pallikondeswaram alias Suruttapalli - Tatpurusha face
3) Vamadhevapuram alias Arani near Periyapalayam (not North Arcot) - Vamadheva face.
4) Varamoorthy Kshethram alias Ariyathurai - Sadhyojatha face
South Gokaranam alias
5) Chinthamaneeswaram - Kattur near Minjur, the place where Brahma Aranya river merges with sea represents Aghora face of Lord Shiva.

Description :The deity here is Sri Vaaleeswarar and Goddess Sri Maragadhambikai.

Though this is a Shiva temple, the Pradhana Murthy (Primary Deity) here is Sri Kala Bhairavar, also called as Santhaana Praapthi Bhairavar.

Here Sri Bhairavar is worshipped by childless couples to be blessed to get a baby. Many childless couples perform pooja here and are blessed with a child.

Legend : There is an interesting story behind this temple. In Ramayana, after defeating Ravana, Rama reached Rameswaram, on his way to Ayodhya. As he killed Ravana, he was caught by Brahmahathi Dhosha. One will suffer from this Dhosha, if he kills a Brahmin. Ravana, though being a demon king, was a Brahmin as he was born to a Rishi. Rama was advised by His Guru Sage Vasishtar to get a Shiva Lingam from Kaasi (Varanasi) and perform poojas to Lord Shiva to get relieved from the Dhosha, so that he can proceed to Ayodhya to take charge as the king.

Rama took his Guru’s advice and sent Anjaneya (Hanuman) to bring a Shiva Lingam from Kaasi Kshethra. Anjaneya took the order of his master and went to Kaasi and brought a Shiva Lingam.

On his way back, he was passing through this place called Kaalinga Madu Karai or Thirukkaarikkarai, where Lord Kala Bhairavar was present. Kala Bhairavar saw Anjaneya with the Shiva Linga and wanted Lord Shiva to take abode in His place here. He wanted to play a trick for His dream to come true. He requested Lord Surya (Sun God) and Vaayu (God of Air) for cooperation. Suddenly Sun started shining heavily emitting high temperature and dry wind blew all over. Anjaneya became thirsty because of this act. He landed up there and saw a boy wandering with his cows who was Lord Kala Bhairava in disguise.

He enquired the boy for any water source nearby. Lord Kala Bhairava prayed to Mother Ganga (Ganges) and a water pond hit Anjaneya’s sight. Anjaneya requested the small boy to hold the Shiva Lingam till he comes back as it should not be kept on the ground. The boy agreed and while Anjaneya was quenching his thirst, the boy told Anjaneya, that the Shiva Lingam was too heavy for him to hold anymore and kept it on the ground and went off.

Anjaneya came back and saw the Shiva Lingam on the ground. He tried lifting hit but he couldn’t. He roped around the Shiva Lingam with his lengthy tail and tried to pull it up using all his strength. The Shiva Lingam tilted a bit but never came off the ground. Anjaneya realized that it is impossible to lift it and started to Kaasi again to bring another Shiva Lingam for Lord Rama. When he started, he felt that the atmosphere was normal. Suddenly, the heat of the Sun came down and there was cold breeze. He understood that it was a trick played by someone.

Out of anger, he cursed the pond to become a hill. The pond became the hill here, on which a Murugan Temple is situated now. The Shiva Lingam which was brought by Lord Anjaneyar is situated in the temple at the foot hill.

As Anjaneya brought the Shiva Lingam here, which was meant for Rama, the place came to be known as Ramagiri.

Since Anjaneya tried to pull the Shiva Lingam with his tail, the Lord here is called as Vaaleeswarar. (Vaal means Tail in Tamil & Vaalam is the Sanskrit word for tail)

Here even today, the Shiva Lingam is seen in a tilted position towards North, as it was pulled by the tail of Hanuman. Also there are marks of the tail on this Shiva Lingam.

Another unique feature of this temple is Lord Anjaneya is present in front of the sanctum between the deity and the Nandhi facing Lord Shiva in a praying gesture. Such Shiva temple is not seen anywhere else.

Theertham : The temple pond which is situated in front of the temple, is called Nandhi Theertham. There is a small Shiva Lingam with a Nandhi nearby. Nandhi’s front half is seen protruding from the wall of the pond. The water originating somewhere from the hill, reaches a small well and from there it passes and comes through this Nandhi’s mouth and flows into the pond. Native villagers say that they have never seen this water flow stop, since their memory. Also they are not sure about the source from where the water reaches Nandhi.
The nandhi theertham has medicinal value for those who are suffering from nervous problems.



Also one can see Sri Bhairavar only in the praakaarams of Shiva Temples. But here, Sri Kaala Bhairavar has a separate shrine located in such a way that one has to visit Him first before proceeding for the dharshan of Lord Shiva.

As the Shiva Linga here is brought by Anjaneyar from Kaasi, it is said that by worshipping Sri Vaaleeswarar here, one gets the benefit of worshipping Lord Shiva of Kaasi.

Website : I took all the details from the website http://dharsanam.blogspot.com/2008/02/ramagiri-sri-vaaleeswarar.html

Bhuvani Mata Temple



Name : Bhuvani Mata Temple

Location : Bara Pathar, Lakar Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India

Description : The uphill trek through Kalatop-Khajjiar Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary is awe-inspiring. At Bara Pathar there is a tee stall and outdoor amphitheater. Also located here is an open-air temple of Bhuvani-Mata. These open-air temples are unique to the hills.

Chandi Devi Temple



Name : Chandi Devi Temple

Location : At the top of Neel Parvat (Hill), Haridwar, India

Description : Chandi Devi Temple is a renowned holy shrine of North India. Perched at the top of Neel Parvat (Hill), the temple is located at a distance of 6 kms from the main city of Haridwar. In 1929, Chandi Devi Mandir was built by Suchat Singh, the king of Kashmir. The Temple is easily accessible from the city of Haridwar by buses, auto-rickshaws, Tongas and Taxis. In order to reach the main shrine, you can opt for trekking of 3 kms and the way starts from the Chandighat. Another mode to reach the temple is cable car, which is trouble-free as well as adventurous.

The main idol of the Goddess is said to have been established by Adi Shankaracharya dating back to the 8th century. There is a legend behind the foundation of this temple. As per the legend, two demon kings, Shumbha and Nishumbha captured the kingdom of Lord Indra. Due to the reason, all the Gods were thrown out from the heaven. At that time, Chandi Devi emerged from the power of Goddess Parvati to slaughter the demon kings. The goddess is believed to have taken rest at this place for some time, since that time the place is considered sacred.

Chandi Devi Temple is known as one of the Siddha Peethas (Holy Places where one's wishes are fulfilled) together with Mansa Devi and Maya Devi of Haridwar. It is said that Goddess Chandi fulfills all the wishes of her true devotees. A temple of Anjana Devi (Mother of Lord Hanuman) is situated at a distance of 200 meters from the shrine of Chandi Devi. Chandi Devi is one of the most ancient temples of India.



In the earlier days, people used to reach the shrine by trekking through the steep path which incorporates bit difficulties. With the passage of time, a ropeway has been made for the convenience of the pilgrims. This ropeway takes around 20-25 minutes to reach the temple complex. Chandidevi alongwith Mansadevi and Mayadevi temple form a Siddhapeeth triangle in the holy city of Haridwar. In this manner, people can also enjoy the panoramic view of the natural beauty. Every year, this temple receives millions of people from far and near. Pilgrims come to this holy shrine to seek blessings from the Goddess.

Website : http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/chandi-devi.html

http://www.blessingsonthenet.com/newtemple/nindex.asp?tempid=T027

Mansa Devi Temple



Name : Mansa Devi Temple

Location : Haridwar, Uttaranchal

Main Deity : Goddess Mansa Devi

Description : Mansa Devi is one of the most popular and most visited temples of Haridwar, Uttaranchal. The temple is dedicated to Mansa Devi, a form of Shakti (Power). Located at the top of Bilwa Parvat (Hill), Mansa Devi Temple can be reached by taking local buses, rickshaws or by hiring from Haridwar. In order to reach the hill-top, one can either go for trekking or for cable-car.

Mansa Devi Temple is an ancient temple that attracts people from both far and near due to its significance. It is believed that the Goddess fulfills all the wishes of a sincere devotee. Actually, the term 'Mansa' is the altered form of word 'Mansha', which means 'wish'. On the top of the hill, there are many shops where coconuts, fruits, marigold garlands and incense sticks are available. These things are offered to the Goddess.

To visit the temple, pilgrims have to follow a queue for the 'darshan' of the Goddess. Mansadevi is said have born from the mind of Saint Kashyap. She is regarded as the wife of Nag Raja Vasuki. This temple is one of the most prominent temples of North India. Mansa Devi is one of the famous Siddh Peethas (Holy Places where one's wishes are fulfilled) along with Chandi Devi and Maya Devi in Haridwar.

People usually tie threads on a holy tree that is located in the vicinity of the temple asking the Goddess to fulfill their wishes. On the fulfillment of the wishes, people come to untie the thread from the same tree once again. The temple is of great importance to the followers of Hinduism. One can have a panoramic view of Haridwar from the top of Bilwa Hill.

Festivals : Navratri

Website : http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/mansa-devi-temple.html

Pomosa Temple



Name : Pomosa is a Buddhist Temple means "Temple of the Fish from Nirvana"

Location : It located on Mt. Kumjong in Pusan, Korea.

History of Pomosa :

Pomosa was built originally in 678 A.D. and is one of the ten great Hawom temples built by the monk, Uisang. At its largest, during the Koryo dynasty, it was much larger than it is today - with over 360 rooms and more than a thousand monks in residence. The temple was burned to the ground in 1592 during the Japanese Imjin Invasion. It was reconstructed in 1602, but was burned again by an accidental fire. In 1613 it was rebuilt again. The Main Hall (Daeungjeon) and the front gate (Iljumun) date to this reconstruction.

Description : The name Pomosa means "Temple of the Fish from Nirvana" and Mt. Kumjong is the "Mountain of the Golden Well".

The temple complex has several buildings and other objects which are designated as official treasures:

National Treasure 250 - Three Story Stone Pagoda

National Treasure 434 - Daeungjeon

Tangible Cultural Asset 2 - Iljumun

Tangible Cultural Asset 11 - Wonhyoam Eastern Pagoda

Tangible Cultural Asset 12 - Wonhyoam Western Pagoda

Tangible Cultural Asset 15 - Flag Pole Holder

Tangible Cultural Asset 16 - Stone Lamp

In addition to the main temple compound, there are eleven hermitages or smaller temples (am) nearby and administratively attached to Pomosa.
bullet Cheongnyeong-am (Blue Lotus Hermitage)
bullet Naewon-am (Buddha's Celestial Teaching Hall Hermitage)
bullet Gyemyeong-am (Rooster's Crow Hermitage)
bullet Daeseong-am (Great Saint Hermitage)
bullet Geumgang-am (Diamond Hermitage)
bullet Anyang-am (Peace Nurturing Hermitage)
bullet Mireuk-am (Maitreya Hermitage)
bullet Wonhyo-am (Former hermitage residence of the famous monk, Wonhyo)
bullet Saja-am (Lion Hermitage)
bullet Manseong-am (Great Teacher Hermitage)
bullet Jijang-am (Ksitigarbha Hermitage)

Website : http://temple.pomosa.com

Tiantai Peak



Name : Tiantai Peak natural feature)

Location : Jiuhuashan Mountain, China

Description : To the east of Jiuhua Village over a hillcrest is a small valley. From here you can take a cable car up almost to the top of the high ridge to the east. At the top peak is a temple on the spot where Kim built his shack in 720. A little below the summit, near the terminus of the cable car is another temple with a stone that is said to have the footprints of Dizang imprinted in it. The stone is set in the floor of a small shrine in between two larger and newer buildings.

Website : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/china/jiuhuashan/tiantai.php

Baisuigong Temple



Name : Baisuigong Temple

Location : Jiuhuashan Mountain, China

Decsription : Uphill from Qiyuansi temple is a monastery called Baisuigong (Hundred Year Palace), accessible by a tram that runs up the hill to the peak. From here one can walk a couple hundred yards along the ridge to the monastery.

Baisuigong is a Taoist temple perched on the summit of the east peak (Dongfeng). Originally named the Star Picking Temple (Zai Xing An), it was later given its present name in the 16th century when the eminent monk Wu Xia moved to the mountain for the last days of his life. Legend says that after the monk visited temples on Wutai and Emei mountains, he compiled the Huayang Sutras (written in gold dust and his own blood) and died on Jiuhuashan at age 126.

The temple in those days was so remote that Wu Xia's body was only found three years after his death, apparently perfectly preserved. The locals were so amazed that they immediately renamed the temple in his honor. When Emperor Chongzheng of the Qing Dynasty came to power, he had the body of Wu Xia covered in gold leaf and placed in the temple. Imperial recognition allowed the temple to be expanded into the 4th largest on Jiuhua mountain. Even nowadays the body can still be seen seated in prayer.

Website : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/china/jiuhuashan/baisuigong.php

Jiuhuashan



Name : Mount Jiuhua (or) was originally known as Jiuzi (Nine-Peak) Mountain.

Location : It is located in Qingyang County in Anhui province and is famous for its rich landscape and ancient temples.

Description : Jiuhuashan is one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism. The 100 km2 area is full of ridges and peaks, exotic-shaped stones, gushing fountains, roaring waterfalls, and clear streams.

Many of the mountain's shrines and temples are dedicated to Ksitigarbha (known in Chinese as Dìzàng), who is a bodhisattva and protector of souls in hell according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Pious Buddhists often come to this popular attraction in Anhui to climb to Greater Tiantai peak, which is regarded as Jiuhuashan's most important peak, although it is not the tallest.

The original name of the mountain was Mt. Jiuzishan( Nine Peek Mountain ). However it was renamed Mt. Jiuhua, meaning "the Mountain of the Nine Lotuses." Legend states that one day, Libai - the famous poet of the Tang Dynasty - came to visit this mountain. The poet was intoxicated with the scene of nine peaks that look like lotus blooms from heaven. Out of admiration he wrote the lines: "From the azure skies above descends a jade-like flow, and nine fascinating lotuses rise out of the hills below."

Famous Buddhist Shrine :

It was not until the late eighth century that the mountain became a place where religious rites were held to worship the God of Earth. The construction of temples started in the Tang Dynasty and their enlargement continued in the following dynasties. By the middle of the Qing, Mt. Jiuhua became one of the four great Buddhist Mountains in China (the other three being Mt. Emeishan in Sichuan, Mt. Wutaishan in Shanxi and Mt. Putuoshan in Zhejiang).
"Huacheng Temple" is the oldest temples on the mountain. It looks simple and solemn. Its lintels, brackets and roofs all have artistic engravings on them. The picture "nine dragons are playing with pearls" on a panel in the "Main Shrine Hall" is a consummate piece of ancient Chinese artists. Precious sutras and other cultural relics in Huacheng and other temples are on display in the Historical Relics Museum of the Jiuhua Mountain.

Other famous temples on the mountain include :
Huacheng Temple - The oldest temple on the mountain
Guoqing Temple
Baisuigong Temple - houses the more than 350 year old mummy of Monk Wu Xia
Dabeilou Temple
Qiyuansi Temple
Roushen Temple
Tianchi Temple
Zhantanlin Temple
Zhiyuan Temple

Website : http://www.hceis.com/ChinaBasic/Mountains/Jiuhuashan.htm

Saturday, June 20, 2009

St-Martin-du-Canigou


Name : St-Martin-du-Canigou or St-Martin-du-Canigou and also St. Martin's Abbey

Location : Languedoc state, Roussillon province, France

Description :
Faith - Christianity
Denomination - Catholic
Order - Benedictine (originally; now Community of the Beatitudes)
Dedication - St. Martin

Boasting a spectacular location in the Pyrenees mountains of southern France, the abbey church of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou is a Romanesque treasure from the early 11th century. In addition to its ancient architecture, it is notable for its collection of original 13th-century capitals depicting a variety of imaginative subjects.

Construction on the Abbey of Saint Martin probably began in 1005, the year it was founded by Count Guifre de Cerdanya. The elder brother of Oliba, who was abbot of the nearby Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, the count eventually became a monk himself in Saint-Martin-du-Canigou. The completion date for the abbey church is usually given as 1009 - one thousand years ago. Benedictine monks were invited to take up residence in the new abbey.

The abbey remained active until it was dissolved in 1783. Thereafter it was abandoned, lying neglected and forgotten throughout the 1800s. Many of the abbey buildings fell into ruin, but happily the church and its tower remained standing in 1902, when restoration work began. The restoration project was led by Mgr de Carsalade du Pont, Bishop of Perpignan. Today, the abbey is active once again, as home to the Community of the Beatitudes.

The abbey is located at about 3,500 feet above sea level in the richly forested Pyrenees mountains. Accessible only by a scenic paved path that winds through the woods, it offers a unique atmosphere along with its rich history and art. Upon arrival at the abbey, head to the visitor's center to purchase a ticket for the next guided tour. A resident monk or nun will lead the tour in French, with translations in several other languages provided as handouts.

Visitors approach the abbey from the east side, which provides a view of the handsome chevet from below. Like many early Romanesque churches, it has a central apse flanked by two smaller apses decorated with Lombard bands, and a triangular pediment above. Another apse extends to the south, as part of a small chapel. The bell tower is attached to the north side of the church. It is built in the distinctive Roussillon style, with a stout square shape, multiple tiers of round-headed openings, and a crenellated top.

Scenic Viewpoint : For a fine view of the abbey from above, head south from the gathering area below the church and up a small trail marked by signs warning about danger. The danger is due to the lack of any fence around the small platform, which looks out over a steep cliff. But the platform is mostly smooth and roomy enough for a few adults to enjoy the view without taking any excessive risks, and the view is exceptional. Just be careful not to trip over a rock!

Hours : Accessible only on guided tours (in French).
Closed in month of January.

Website : http://stmartinducanigou.org/

Barlaam Monastery - Greece



Name : Varlaam (Barlaam) Monastery

Location : Meteora, Thessaly, Greece

Legend : Varlaam Monastery, one of the monasteries of the Meteora, is named for the monk who first built a tiny chapel on this rocky promontory in the 14th century.

In the 16th century, two brothers from the monastery at Ioannina enlarged the chapel and founded the monastery. According to legend, they had to drive away the monster who lived in a cave on the summit before they could move in.

Description : Entry to the Varlaam (Barlaam) Monastery is quite easy. Safe, wide steps have been cut into the rock and it's not as far to climb as the steps to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Meteora. If you're not especially fit, then this is a good monastery to choose. Entry is by ticket; it cost us 2 Euros each at the door.

Women have to wear a skirt and cover bare arms. Trousers and short sleeved T-shirts not allowed. Skirts to below the knee seem to be preferred dress for women, Peasant style. Appropriate dress code for men is long trousers and a long sleeved shirt.

Entry for tourists is restricted to the church, a 2 room museum, and gift shop. The small museum has several historic treasures on display. There is a small collection of hand-written illuminated religious books, a cabinet of beautifully crafted and gold and silver communion goblets, heavily embroidered robes for special occasions, lecterns inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, plus other religious items.

The adjoining bookshop sells a small selection of books in various common languages, about the history of Meteora, the Byzantine monasteries and the Orthodox faith.

The mountain range to the east and north of Meteora experiences baking heat in summer and severe cold in winter with heavy snowfalls.

Website : http://www.sacred-destinations.com/greece/meteora-varlaam-monastery.htm

The Süleymaniye Mosque



Name : The Suleymaniye Mosque

Location : Located on the second Hill of Istanbul, Turkey.

Description : It is an Ottoman imperial mosque and is the second largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.

The Süleymaniye Mosque was built on the order of Sultan Suleiman I (Suleiman the Magnificent) and was constructed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557.

Sinan considered the design to be an architectural counterpoint to the Byzantine Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia, converted into a mosque under Mehmed II, served as a model to many Ottoman mosques in Istanbul. However, Sinan's Süleymaniye is a more symmetrical, rationalized and light-filled interpretation of earlier Ottoman precedents, as well as the Hagia Sophia. It is possible that dialogue between Italy and Istanbul contributed to Sinan's enthusiasm for symmetrical and rational forms, as promoted by writers like Alberti.

The design of the Süleymaniye also plays on Suleyman's self-conscious representation of himself as a 'second Solomon.' It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, as well as Justinian's boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia: "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!" The Süleymaniye, similar in magnificence to the preceding structures, asserts Suleyman's historical importance. The structure is nevertheless smaller in size than its older archetype, the Hagia Sophia.

The Süleymaniye was ravaged by a fire in 1660 and was restored by Sultan Mehmed IV. Part of the dome collapsed again during the earthquake of 1766. Subsequent repairs damaged what was left of the original decoration of Sinan (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before turning red the dominant color of the dome).

During World War I the courtyard was used as a weapons depot and when some of the ammunition ignited the mosque suffered another fire. Not until 1956 was it fully restored again.

Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BCleymaniye_Mosque

Benalmadena Stupa


Name : Benalmádena - Stupa

Location : In Southern Spain high on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean just outside the village of Benalmadena.

Description : Not only is spanish the third most spoken language around the world, but as a nation, Spain is also a major player on the world stage. Furthermore, the spanish peninsula is host to a myriad of cultural expressions. Buddhism being a philosophy of peace and universal dimension has made inroads in the country for over two decades.

The Buddhist master, Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche paid his first visit to Spain in 1990, where he gave teachings and empowerments to a large following at Karma Guen, a buddhist meditation center nearby Velez-Malaga. By 1994, in that same place, he built his first Stupa as a landmark of peace and prosperity for the country. That first Stupa served as a model for the next 16 Stupas he would build throughout Europe in the years to follow.

By 1995, Rinpoche became a spanish resident and began visiting the country regularly making his teachings more available to others. Rinpoche loved the country and its people. And as a sign of the strong connection he had to the country, he began planning together with the Banalmadena Mayor, Enrique Bolín, the construction of the largest Stupa in the western world.

Website : http://www.stupabenalmadena.org/en/introduction_en.html

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mount Tai Shan



Name : Mount Tai

Location : It is located north of the city of Tai'an, in Shandong Province, China.

Description : This is a mountain of historical and cultural significance. The tallest peak is Jade Emperor Peak, which is commonly reported as 1545 metres (5069 ft) tall.

Mount Tai is one of the "Five Sacred Mountains". It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is often regarded the foremost of the five. The temples on its slopes have been a destination for pilgrims for 3,000 years.

History : Traces of human presence at Mount Tai date back to the Paleolithic period. Human settlement of the area can be proven from the neolithic period onwards. During this time, two cultures had emerged near the mountain, the Dawenkou to the north and Longshan to the south.

Religious worship of Mount Tai has a tradition of 3,000 years, it has been practiced from the time of the Shang to that of the Qing Dynasty. Over time, this worship evolved into an official imperial rite and Mount Tai became one of the principal places where the emperor would pay homage to Heaven (on the summit) and Earth (at the foot of the mountain) in the Fengshan Sacrifices. In 219 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, held a ceremony on the summit and proclaimed the unity of his empire in a famous inscription.

Mount Tai has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. In 2003, it attracted around 6 million visitors.

Natural wonders :
Mount Tai is a tilted fault-block mountain with height increasing from the north to the south. It is the oldest example of a paleo-metamorphic formation from the Cambrian Period in eastern China. Known as the Taishan Complex, this formation contains magnetized, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock as well as intrusions of other origins during the Archean Era.



Besides the Jade Emperor Peak, other distinctive rock formations are the Heaven Candle Peak, the Fan Cliff, and the Rear Rock Basin.

Temples : There are 22 temples, 97 ruins, 819 stone tablets, and 1,018 cliff-side and stone inscriptions located on Mount Tai. These include the Azure Cloud Temple dedicated to the daughter of the God of Mount Tai, the goddess Laomu and the Divine Rock Temple which features the Thousand-Buddhas Hall with painted Arhat statues, Dai Miao Temple & Dongyue Temple.



Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tai

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Temple of Hephaestus and Athena Ergane



Name : The Temple of Hephaestus and Athena Ergane also known as the Hephaisteion or Theseion,

Location : It located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens, on top of the Agoraios Kolonos hill

Legend : Hephaestus was the patron-god of metal working. Athena Ergane was the patron-goddess of pottery and crafts in general. There were numerous potter shops and metal working factories in the vicinity of the temple, justifying the dedication of the temple to these two deities.

Description : This is the best preserved ancient Greek temple. It is a Doric order peripteral temple. From the 7th century until 1834, it served as the Greek Orthodox church of St. George Akamates.

Construction : After the battle of Plataea, the Greeks swore never to rebuild their sanctuaries, destroyed by the Persians during their invasion of Greece, but to leave them in ruins, as a perpetual reminder of barbarian ferocity. The Athenians directed their funds towards rebuilding their economy and strengthening their influence in the Delian League. When Pericles came to power, he envisioned a grand plan for transforming Athens into the centre of Greek power and culture. The temple of Hephaestus in the Agora was meant to embody the richest evidence of Athenian tradition, conservatively in the Doric order and the full complement of carved metopes that had long been Athens’ pride on its conspicuous Treasury at Delphi.

Construction started in 449 BC, but the temple was not completed until 415 BC, presumably because emphasis shifted towards the monumental construction on the Acropolis, with funds and workers being redirected towards the Parthenon. The temple was officially inaugurated in 416-415 BC

The architect was one of the ones who helped on the Parthenon, Ictinus. The material used is Pentelic marble with the exception of the lowest step of the crepidoma which is from limestone and the decorative sculptures for which the more expensive Parian marble was chosen.

The building has a pronaos, a main room housing the cult images of the deities, namely a cella, and an opisthodomos. The alignment of the antae of the pronaos with the third flank columns of the peristyle is a unique feature of temple building at the middle of the 5th century BCE.

In the 3rd century BCE trees and shrubs (pomegranates, myrtle and laurel) were planted around the temple, creating a small garden.

In the 7th century CE, the temple was turned into a Christian church, dedicated to Saint George, and under this capacity it was used as a burial place for non-Orthodox Europeans.

Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Hephaestus

Phnom Chngouk Temple



Name : Phnom Chngouk Temple

Location : Tropeang Pring, Cambodia

Description : Just eight kilometres east of quiet Kampot town lies Phnom Chngouk, one of Kampot's oldest known cave temples.

The winding dirt road to the temple snakes past scenic views of the Cambodian countryside, lush with rice paddies, small farms and dramatic limestone formations, covered in dense vegetation.

There is brick temple within the cave that dates back to 7th century during the Funan period. It has over the course of millions of year, grown into an almost prefect linga.

Phnom Chngouk itself is a hulking limestone karst, which contains many hidden chambers, rocky outcrops and stalactites, formed by calcium carbonate deposits in water. The largest cave contains an ancient red brick Hindu temple resting under a massive rock formation resembling an eagle.

Now the temple is tended to by the elderly Loak Ta Neak Sohl, or "Grandfather White Dragon". He came to this area 12 years ago to devote himself to the Buddhist dharma and meditate. At that time not many people knew about this temple; there were no steps up to the cavern, only forest and rocks. With his encouragement, the villagers pooled their money to build stone steps up to the temple.

The slight, wiry patriarch explained that many electronic devices such as cell phones and watches cease to work in the cave, and that even airplanes and helicopters never fly over the site, as it interferes with their controls.

Next to the main chamber is a passageway that leads to the interior of the cave. The path is slippery and dark, and littered with large boulders, a stalactite resembling the head of a cow, and a cool, subterranean pond filled with tiny black fish.

The journey through the cave and out to the rice fields below and behind the mountain is easily negotiated by the young boys who hop effortlessly through the obstacles with only a flashlight. But it is not an easy trip for first-time visitors.

Tourists don't often explore this cavern, as they are too scared. Only visitors under 80 or 90 kilogrammes are advised to go here as some of the passageways are too tight for larger visitors.

Website : http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2009061826534/Life-Style/Kampot-s-cave-temples-make-for-a-magical-trip.html

Wat Kirisan



Name : Wat Kirisan

Location : located in Kampong Trach, 29 kilometres from Kep, Cambodia

Description : Wat Kirisan is a modern temple built at the base of a large karst formation with numerous caves and passages on the inside. The main pagoda is located outside the karst, and from there you can take an underground passage to go to the shrines and caves on the inside. There is also a large reclining Buddha inside the karst formation too. The cave network is explorable with a proper light source, but a guide is recommended for serious exploration..

Armed with a flashlight, the guide leads visitors down the temple steps and under the mountain into a channel carved out by a now-defunct river.

"During the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge used the soil in this cave for the rice paddies nearby because it was full of minerals," he said. "Later, Vietnamese soldiers hid in the caves, but the Khmer Rouge found them and killed them. Some Vietnamese officials returned to collect the bones, but many of their bones still remain in hidden recesses."

Around the perimeter of the rock walls are grottoes, carved by ancient streams, which contain multiple Buddhist and animist shrines. Some of the grottoes lead to vast underground caverns with lunar-like landscapes and echo with the eerie sound of water softly dripping into the underground pools. People come here to pray to the forest spirit for health, wealth and better life.

Website : http://www.geckogo.com/Attraction/Cambodia/Kampong-Trach/Wat-Kirisan/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kottaimalai Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple



Name :
Kottai Malai (Padavedu)

Location : Padavedu is centrally located among Vellore, Thiruvannamalai and Arani in the Vellore – Polur route. While going from Vellore, there is a junction called Santhavasal at 32 km from Vellore town and from this junction you have to turn right and travel further for about 6 kms to reach Padavedu.

Description : The temple for Lord Venu Gopala Swamy is located on the top of Raja Kambeera Mountain popularly known as Kottaimalai. The temple opens only on Saturdays from 9AM to 4PM.

The only route available to this temple is a ghat road running through thick and beautiful forest. A breath taking journey to this temple can be performed sitting on a huge Tractor specially built to take the pilgrims and the materials to the temple. However the tractor takes us only to the foot of the hill. Rest of the journey is to be covered by walk for about an hour. En route we have to pass through few wooden bridges constructed around the hill. It is an engineering marvel.

video

All our pains vanish once we reach the sanctum where beautiful flute playing Lord VenuGopala Swamy is in a standing posture along with his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. The idols of this temple are known for their artistic beauty.

All the dwajasthambams seen so far are of either wood or metal and not made of stone. Here is a beautifully carved out stone dwajasthambam with the lightning arrestor at the top.


There are two water streams (sunai) on either side of the temple and water from one of them (right side photo) is very clean and is being used for drinking and abhisheham.

A temple not to be missed since this has something for all types/ ages of people - as a spiritual place and as a pleasure spot - so near Chennai.

Festivals : During a Purattasi Saturday, sun rays falls on the foot of the deity and raises to head during the early morning hours. Some say that this happens on the third Saturday and some say that no one knows on which Saturday of the month, this will happen. There will be 100s of people staying overnight to witness the event and the place wears a festive look with good lightings. Lot of Annandhanams by many people take place on the mountain top and along the way. The temple will be open for the entire overnight and the Abhishehams will be completed before 5:30 AM itself on that day.

Website : http://shanthiraju.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/kottamalai/

Monday, June 15, 2009

Uyyakondan Malai



Name : Uyyakondan Malai (Uchi Nathar Temple)

Location : TiruKarkudi. Located at 5 Kms west of Trichy atop a small hill, now known as Uyyakondan Malai.

Deity : Lord Shiva known as Uchi Nathar, Ujjeevaneswarar and Thayaar (Female deity) known as Anjanakshi, Balambikai, Neelnedunkanni

Legend : Mrikandu Maharishi did penance on Lord Shiva for getting children. Lord Siva asked him whether he needed 100 useless children who may live for 100 years or one intelligent, righteous son who would live only for a short period of 16 years of age. Mrikandu preferred to have one righteous son who may have a short life span of 16 years. The child thus born was named Markandeya who also came to know about this dealine and then he took shelter in Lord Shiva. Markandeya, who was an ardent Siva devotee from his childhood, visited many temples of Lord Shiva and prayed to him for longer life. It is in this sivasthalam at Karkudi, Lord Shiva pleased with Markandeya's true devotion and worship, appeared in front of him when he visited this temple and gave him a boon that Markandeya will be a Chiranjeevi and will live forever thereby nullifying the deadline of 16 years of life.

Description : This Sivasthalam is situated on the top of a rock hill of 30 feet height. 64 steps cut in the rock takes one to the top of the hill. The temple has 5 prakarams with high compund walls on the 4 sides. Stone inscriptions found in the temple give details of patronage and renovation work undertaken by the Pallava King Nadivarma Pallavan and hence Karkudi is also referred as Nandivarama Mangalam.

It is interesting to note that Lord Shiva's shrine is atop the hill and that of His Son Lord Muruga's shrine is situated at the bottom of the hill. Usually the temples for Lord Muruga will be found on the top of a hill and here, in this Sivasthalam, the shrine for His Father is atop the hill.

Website : http://www.shivatemples.com/sofc/sc004.html

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pavala Malai



Name : Pavalamalai

Location : Gobichettipalayam, Erode

Description : The main deity here is Arulmigu Muthukumaraswamy. Because of the cultural and religious importance, people prefer Gobi for marriages of their kith and kin. People around the world, conduct their marriage rituals here. These are the only info i got about this temple till now. I shall collect more info about this temple and add in future.

Website: http://www.kaumaram.com/aalayam/index_pavalamalai.html

El Templo del Sol - Machu Pichu




Name : El Templo del Sol (or) Temple Of Sun

Location : Machu Pichu, Peru

Description : The Sun Temple was a ceremonial temple to honor the Inca god of Sun. The Temple is the only round building in the complex. A very sacred structure, only the emperor and high priests would have been allowed inside.

In the center of the temple you can see a sacrificial stone which was used in worship. There are two windows in the temple. On the two solstices of the year, at sunrise, the sun shines directly into the Sun Temple through these two windows and forms a rectangle on the sacrificial stone.

The winter solstice was on June 21st and people gather to see this rare occurrence.

Website : http://www.senorbiallas.com/Peru2004/solsticio.htm

Songshan



Name : Songshan

Location : is one of the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism and is located in Henan province on the south bank of the Yellow River in China. Its summit is 1,500 meters above sea level.

Description : The Historic Monuments of Mount Song have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Tentative List.

Despite the mountain being one of the Daoist sacred mountains, the mountain is predominantly Buddhist today. It is home to the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, and even today the temple's collection of stupas is the largest in China. The Zhongyue Temple is also located here, one of the earliest Taoist temples in the country. The Songyang Academy nearby was one of the four great academies of ancient China. The mountain and its vicinity are populated with Taoist and especially Buddhist monasteries. The 6th century Songyue Pagoda is also located here, as well as Tang Dynasty (618–907) pagodas within the Fawang Temple.

Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Song

Heng Shan



Name : Heng Shan

Location : It is located in Shanxi province in China. At 2,017 m, it is one of the five tallest peaks in China Proper is one of the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism. It is sometimes known as the Northern Heng Shan, and should not be confused with the Southern Heng Shan in Hunan Province. Both mountains have the same pronunciation in Chinese, and the Southern Heng Shan is also one of the Five Sacred Mountains.

Description : During the Han Dynasty, a temple called the Shrine of the Northern Peak (Beiyue Miao), dedicated to the mountain god was built on Hengshan's slopes. While periodically destroyed and rebuilt, this temple has an uninterrupted history from Han times to the present day.

The Hanging Monastery, built in 491, has survived more than 1,400 years. The extant monastery was largely rebuilt and maintained in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The most famous temple at Hengshan is not Daoist, but is actually the Buddhist Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si). The Hanging Monastery stands at the foot of Mt. Hengshan and is one of the most dramatic sights at Hengshan - a wooden temple clinging to the cliff side, appearing to defy gravity with only a few wooden posts as support.

The buildings were restored in 1900 and there are 40 wooden halls and structures linked by an ingenious system of pillars, posts and walkways.

Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Heng_(Shanxi)

Mandar Hill Temple


Name : Mandar Hill Temple

Location : Mandar Hill is roughly 700 feet high. It is situated about 30 miles south of the Bhagalpur town in Bihar. There is an eastern railway line connecting Bhagalpur with Mandar Hill. Mandar Hill station is about three miles from Mandar Hill. There is also an all- weather road that connects Bhagalpur with Dumka.

Legends : Mandar is associated with
1) Amritmanthana which suggests that the hill was used by the gods to churn the ocean to procure amrit. The serpent, Basukinaga offered to serve as the rope and has left behind an impression of the coil on the granite hill.

2) It is believed that panchjanya, the conch shell used in Mahabharat War was discovered here in the Sank kund.

3) The puranas refer to various sacred places on the hill which is also believed to be the abode of Vishnu under the title of Madhusudana or the destroyer of a demon called Madhu who was killed by Vishnu and then covered by the Mandar hill. Kalidasa’s kumarasamahava refers to foot marks of Vishnu on the slopes of Mandar.
Besides inscriptions and statues there are numerous rock cut sculptures depicting various Brahmanical images.

4) The hill is equally revered by the Jains who believe that their 12th Tirthankara attained nirvana here on the summit of the hill.

Description : At the salvation place on Mandar Hill, a grand Jain Mandar Hill Temple is erected. A pair of feet images (about 3000 years old) are installed there.

There is a place where Lord Vasupoojya attained Kevalgyan (supernatural knowledge) near the place of salvation. Three pairs of ancient feet images are installed here.

Near the place of salvation, a beautiful cave temple is viewable with 5-feet-tall standing idol.

Website : http://bhagalpur.bih.nic.in/tourism.html

Pachaimalai




Name : Pachaimalai

Location : The temple is located in Gobichettipalayam, a quiet town in the Erode district. Gobi has two hill temples - Pachaimalai and Pavalamalai. This is considered to be a great reason to justify the town's ethics.

Legend : Once upon a time, Saint Dhurvasar reached Kunnathur that lies 18 KMs south of present Gobi town. He worshipped at Shiva temple at Kunnathur. Then he found out that a place called Modachur on the outskirts of present Gobi town is a good place to perform his routine worship of Shiva. While workshipping, he wanted to have Darshan of Lord Subramanya. Not finding a temple, he went into penance to find out the best place for the worship. He found through his penance that there is a Subramanya temple on a small hill at a distance of around 1.5 kms from Modachur and the main deity faced west. The saint reached the hill to find Lord Subramanya and continued his worship. He also learnt the similarities between the temple and Palani where the Lord is facing west as Dhandapani.

Description : The Poojai activities at Pachaimalai are renowned. The 'ArthaJama' poojai resembles the one at Palani. Arulmigu Balamurugan takes the simplest form with white clothes sans his ornamental jewels. This is the most peaceful scene, one can ever get in his life.

Other deities residing in the temple are Vidya Ganapathi (form of commonsense, quick wit and knowledge), Maragatheeswarar, Maragatha Valli, Guru Dhakshinamurthy, Kalyana Subramanyar, Anjaneyar, Navagraham and Kala Bhairavar. Urchava Murthys are Dhandayudhapani, Shanmugar, Subramanyar Pradhosha Moorthy and Aiyappar. Golden Chariot and Golden Peacock mount have been donated by the public to the Almighty. A wooden chariot runs around the hill during Panguni Uthiram Chariot Festival.

Temple's Speciality : The temple is renowned for the 'Vaasthu' poojai where people bring the first brick to perform poojai at the Sannidhanam. 'Ayyappa Maalai' in Karthigai month is also started here. Couples who are in need of children perform their Sashti fasting here. It is a belief that the couple in fasting at Pachaimalai would get a child. Anyone who is not married pray 'Kalyana' Subramanyar and Guru Dhakshinamurthy for their requests to be answered.

Website : http://www.pachaimalai.in/Eng/ind.htm

Sacred Mountains of China


Name : Sacred Mountains of China

Description : The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into two groups.
1) One associated with Taoism and
2) Other associated with Buddhism

The group associated with Taoism is known as the Five Great Mountains, whereas the group associated with Buddhism is referred to as the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism.

The Five Great Taoist Mountains
The Taoist Five Great Mountains are arranged according to the five cardinal directions of Chinese geomancy, which includes the center as a direction:

1. East: Tai Shan , literally Leading Peaceful Mountain, Shandong, 1,545 m
2. West: Hua Shan , literally Splendid Mountain), Shanxī, 1,997 m
3. South: Heng Shan , literally Balancing Mountain, Hunan, 1,290 m
4. North: (Bei) Heng Shan , literally Permanent Mountain, Shanxī, 2,017 m
5. Center: Song Shan , literally Lofty Mountain, Henan, 1,494 m

Alternatively, these mountains are sometimes referred to by the respective directions, i.e., as the "Northern Great Mountain" (Bei Yue), "Southern Great Mountain" (Nan Yue), "Eastern Great Mountain" (Dong Yue), "Western Great Mountain" (Xi Yue), and "Central Great Mountain" (Zhong Yue).

Legend : According to Chinese mythology, the Five Great Mountains originated from the limbs and the head of Pangu, the first being and creator of the world. Because of its eastern location, Mount Tài is associated with the rising sun which signifies birth and renewal. Due to this interpretation, it is often regarded as the most sacred of the Five Great Mountains. In accordance with its special position, Mount Tài is believed to have been formed out of Pangu's head.

The Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism

The Buddhist Four Sacred Mountains in China are:

1. Wutai Shan (literally Five-Terrace (Plateau) Mountain), Shanxi, 3,058 m
2. Emei Shan (literally Delicate-Eyebrow Mountain), Sìchuan, 3,099 m
3. Jiuhua Shan (literally Nine-Glories Mountain), Anhui, 1,341 m
4. Putuo Shan (literally Potalaka (Potala) Mountain), Zhejiang, 284 m

Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Mountains_of_China

Leshan Giant Buddha




Name : Leshan literally meaning "happy mountain"

Location : Leshan Grand Buddha sits at the confluence of the Mingjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers, in the Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China. Leshan is on the southwestern fringe of the Red Basin in southern Sichuan, about 120 km from Chengdu.

Description : Leshan Grand Buddha (Da Fo), sitting 71 meters high, is the largest Buddha sculpture of Maitreya in the world. The building project was begun in 713, engineered by a monk called Haitong and was completed in the 19th year of Tang Dezhong (803 AD). The statue has undergone a large amount of weathering over the years, and has had many "face lifts" and repairs added, including a water drainage system hidden on the inside. Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of erosion, and officials are worried about possible collapse.

It is a UN-claimed world cultural and natural heritage. State-protected site of cultural relics, State-ranked scenic spot, and one of the "Best Forty" tourist places of China.

Leshan Grand Buddha has beautiful surroundings of green hills and vast waters. Around it are numerous cultural and scenic spots. There are Mahao Cave Tombs of the Han Dynasty, Lingbao Pagoda of the Tang Dynasty, Lingyun Temple, Dongpo Tower Study, Yijing Annotation Cave, Moruo Memorial Hall, Wuyou Temple, and the Heavenly-Buddhist Kingdom. All there present us with a great painting of the nature. Visitors, no matter in boats or on the hill paths, will all enjoy it, I am sure.''

It is possible to walk from top to bottom (and back up again) along a staircase carved in the wall overlooking the Buddha. A popular activity near the head is for people to have their photo taken "touching" the nose or sticking their finger in the ear of the buddha, supposedly for good luck.

Website : http://www.thesalmons.org/lynn/leshan/

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mount Huashan




Name : Mount Huashan (or) Flower Mountain

Location :
Mt. Hua is located in the Shaanxi Province of China. It stands to the south of Huayin City, 75 miles east of Xian. From the map, this mountain is located close to Himalayas of Tibet. 'Shan' means 'mountain' in Chinese, thus the name 'Hua-shan'.

Religion : Mt. Huashan is also a holy mountain of Taoism. It is said that Lao Zi (Lao Tzu), the founder and patriarch of Taoism, once lived and gave sermons here. Today many Taoism temples are also located on Mr. Huashan which helps explain why this is a much-visited area.

Description : When seen in a certain way, the five peaks of Huashan look like five petals of a flower. This is how Huashan got its nickname of Flowery Mountain.

Formerly the five mountains were dotted with temples but now only a few remain. These days the majority of visitors to Huashan are Chinese youth on vacation. However the mountain routes are still trekked by devoted pilgrims and wandering monks intent of visiting the sacred shrines.

In order to reach certain temples and the caves of the sages great courage is needed. Pilgrims must scale cliffs with only a linked chain for support and to fall is certain death.

The trek consists of 5 peeks ( north, south, west, east and middle ).

There are three ways up to Huashan's North Peak (1613 m), the lowest of the mountain's major peaks. The most popular is the also the original route, which winds for 6 km from Hua Shan village to the north peak. There is also the cable-car, as well as a path that follows the cable car to the North Peak. From the North Peak, a series of paths rise up to the four other peaks, the West Peak (2038 m), the Center Peak (2042 m), the East Peak (2100 m) and the South Peak (2160 m).

The North Peak, which was called Clouds Stand by ancient people, looks like a flat platform in the clouds. The peak is 1,614 meters (about 5,295 ft) high above sea level. The most important site on the North Peak is the Zhenwu Hall for God of North. The North Peak is very popular for climbing.



Nowhere are the cliff more difficult to climb than the South Peak. A tortuous 15 kilometer stepped path leads to the Green Dragon Ridge (Bilong ji) where other trails lead to the major peaks.



This picture was taken at the base of the West Peak climb.

These are the Heavenly Stairs.These steps are the Starting Point for the hiking trip up the West Peak mountain.As you can gather, the initial part of the climb seems steep, but safe. In addition, the view is awe-inspiring.

The Middle Peak, which is always connected with a beauty, is also called Jade Maiden Peak. Story goes that Nongyu, the daughter of King Mugong (659B.C.-621B.C.) of the Qin Kingdom (770B.C.-476B.C.), was tired of the life in the court. So she and her husband lived alone at Middle Peak.



The East Peak is 2,090 meters (about 6,857 ft) high above sea level. It is also called Facing Sun Peak because the top of the peak is the best place to watch the sunrise.



Recent Developments : As tourism has boomed and the mountain's accessibility vastly improved with the installation of the cable car in the 90s, visitor numbers surged. Despite the safety measures introduced by cutting deeper pathways and building up stone steps and wider paths, as well as adding railings, fatalities continued to occur. The local government has proceeded to open new tracks and created one-way routes on some more hair-raising parts, such that the mountain can be scaled without significant danger now, barring crowds and icy conditions. Some of the most precipitous tracks have actually been closed off.

The former trail that leads to the South Peak from North Peak is on a cliff face, and it was known as being extremely dangerous; there is now a new and safer stone-built path to reach the South Peak temple, and on to the Peak itself. The infamy and perilousness of the original route can be enjoyed in a story put on the web page of a person called Rick Archer with the title "The Deadly Huashan Hiking Trail"

Website :
http://www.ssqq.com/ARCHIVE/vinlin27d.htm

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sem Mukhem

Name : Sem Mukhem

Location : Talbala Sem parvat, Tehri, Uttaranchal

Description : At a height of 2903 mts., situated in the interior of the district, the temple of Nag Raja at Sem Mukhem is held in high esteem by the people of the area. Transport facilities are available up to Khamba Khal, a distance of 64 kms. from Tehri. One has to walk for about 7 kms. from the Khamba Khal to reach Sem. The temple is situated at the top of a hill about 5 kms. from the village Mukhem which is 2 kms. from the motor head of Khamba Khal. Accommodation is provided by the ‘Pandas’ of the village Mukhem.

Website : http://tehri.nic.in/TOURIST/tour-main1.htm

Friday, June 5, 2009

Yudono san, Japan



Name : Yudono San

Location : Being one of the 3temples of Dewa Sanzan, it is also located in the center of Yamagata prefecture, between Tsuruoka and Yamagata city, Japan.

Description : The three sacred mountains of Dewa, known in Japanese as "Dewa Sanzan" have been the object of worship for centuries. The 3 mounts are Haguro-san, Yudono-san and Gas-san.

Mount Yudono (1,504m) is another two and a half hour walk. The first is 40min descend where the trail becomes a slippery stream bed. Here a series of ladders and chains help us descend the final stretch to the Yudono-san Jinja. then it is a steep hike up before reaching Yudono-san Shrine, the holiest of the three, although it is just a big rock and a torii.

There is a huge orange rock with a hot spring bubbling from it's top. The whole rock was continuously lapped by water from the spring. The rock itself is said to be an embodied deity. Yudono-san Jinja has the strictest rituals of the three mountains.

Yudono-san can also be accessed via the three km trail from the Yudono-san Hotel to Senninzawa.

Website : http://sacredmountains.blogspot.com/2007/09/dewa-sanzen.html

Gas san, Japan



Name : Gassan-Jinja Temple

Location : The Dewa Sanzan are located in the center of Yamagata prefecture, between Tsuruoka and Yamagata city, Japan.

Description : The three sacred mountains of Dewa, known in Japanese as "Dewa Sanzan" have been the object of worship for centuries. The 3 mounts are Haguro-san, Yudono-san and Gas-san.

Gas-san is the highest peak of the Dewa Sanzen, 1984m. It is worshiped as a mountain where our ancestors sleep, and a mountain of fertility that brings rich waters. The hike is not stairs, it is a beautiful trail through bushes.

At the top of Mt. Gassan, there is the Gassan-jinja Shrine. To enter the shrine we had to be purified. We had to bow our heads before the Priest for a blessing, then rub our shoulders, arms, body, legs and feet with sacred paper. Then we drop the paper in a fountain.

Other Attractions : This place is famous for Mida-ga-hara Marsh where you can enjoy nikko-kisuge (yellow alpine lilies), black lilies, mizubasho (Japanese skunk cabbages) and other marsh vegetation.

Website : http://www.jref.com/practical/dewa_sanzan_gassan_yudonosan_hagurosan.shtml

Haguro San, Japan



Name : Haguro San

Location : The area is a major pilgrimage destination for the yamabushi (mountain priests) and followers of the Shugendo sect.

The Dewa Sanzan are located in the center of Yamagata prefecture, between Tsuruoka and Yamagata city. Haguro-san is less than 15km away from Tsuruoka, but the other two peaks are some 20km south from it.

It is possible to visit the three peaks in a long, hectic day, but it is advisable to spend a night in one of the numerous shukubo (temple lodging).

Description : The three sacred mountains of Dewa, known in Japanese as "Dewa Sanzan" have been the object of worship for centuries. The 3 mounts are Haguro-san, Yudono-san and Gas-san.

Mount Haguro (414m) is the smallest of the three and buses go as far as the summit. The trek starts near the 600 year old, wooden five-storied pagoda("gojuto") built without a single nail. Then the path winds its way through an enchanted forest of ancient cedars and cryptomerias while ascending 2,446 finely sculpted stone steps, it isn't very strenous and takes less than an hour. There are 33 carvings in the steps up the mountain, which are said to bring good luck to anyone who finds them.

Atop the mountain is the shrine of Gassai-den which houses the deities of the three mountains, Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto, Oyamatsumi-no-Mikoto, and Ideha-no-Mikoto. After visiting Haguro, white-robed pilgrims trek upward through the mountain forests to the shrines of Gassan and Yudono.

The deity of Yudono lives, not in a building, but in a hot water fall. Pilgrims take off their shoes, and some their clothes, to bathe in the sacred cascade.

The summit of Mount Haguro is defined by a shrine and torii. The main attraction is the Sanzan Gosaiden, venerating the spirits of all three mountains.

Festivals : The three sacred peaks attract pilgrims during spring, summer, and fall, with the largest Haguro festival being held on July 15.

Attractions : If you want a real temple experience, then try to stay in the Shukubo that is actually part of the temple on top of Haguro-san. It is much more beautiful and atmospheric. Get up at 5am and you can watch the morning ritual, which is a mixture of Shinto and esoteric Buddhism with taiko drums, haunting chants, beautiful ritualized movements, and incredible costumes.

If you are interested in Buddhism or Japanese culture, you might be interested in the "Yamabushi Experience", a three day chance for foreigners to go on a pilgrimage and learn about Buddhism during the summer. For more information call the shrine at (0235) 62-2356.

Official site: http://www.dewasanzan.jp/info.html (Japanese only)
Japan National Tourist Organization Site:
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/yamagata/dewasanzan.html

BUDA KEDAR TEMPLE



Name : Buda Kedar Temple

Location : This temple is situated at the confluence of the Bal Ganga and Dharam Ganga rivers, at a motorable distance of 59 kms. from Tehri, Uttaranchal.

Legend : It is believed that Duyodhan offered tarpana here. According to legends, it is at this temple that the Pandavas encountered Rishi Balkhily at Bhrigu Parvat when they were on the lookout for Shiva after the Kurukshetra battle. The rishi directed them to the site of the confluence to meet an oldman meditating there. But when the Pandava got there, the old man vanished and instead, a shivling appeared there. Rishi Balkhily instructed the Pandavas to embrace the Shivling in order to free themselves from their sins. Their impressions are stamped on this Shivling – the biggest Shivling in northen India.

Attractions : Buda Kedar, besides being famous for its temple also proves to be a bird watcher’s paradise. Huge variety of colorful mountain birds can be sighted here in their natural environment. Trekking through the wooded hills is also a hit amongst the adventurous lot of tourists.

Chandrabadani Devi Temple



Name : Chandrabadni

Location : Chandrabadani is a mountain (2,277 m. above sea-level)
On the border of tahsil Devaprayag and Pratapnagar is the well known temple of Chandrabadni Devi which lies at the top of the mountain about 10 km. north of Kandi Khal ( a place on the Devaprayag-Kirti Nagar metalled road) , 22 km. from Devaprayag and 109 km. from Narendra Nagar.

Legend : It is said that when sati, the wife of siva, gave up her life in the yajna started by her father and siva was carrying her body to Kailash, her torso fell here. There are some old statues and lots of iron trishuls (tridents) outside the temple.

Description : It comands a beautiful view of the Sirkanda, Kedarnath and Badrinath peaks. The temple here is very small and contains a Shri-yantra carved out on a flat stone instead of any idol. Traditionally, a cloth canopy is tied to the ceiling over this Shri-yantra once a year and the Brahmana priest doing it has to do it blind-folded.

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