Friday, July 24, 2009
Name : Anuvavi Subramanyaswamy Temple
Location : This Anuvavi Subramanya Swamy Temple is located at Periyathadagam, at a distance of 12 kms from Coimbatore.
Main Deity : Subramanyaswamy
When Lord Anjaneya was on his way back bringing Sanjeevi hill he felt very thirsty and stopped in this place to quench his thirst. Unfortunately Lord Anjaneya could not find water in that area. So Anjaneya prayed to Lord Muruga for water. As an answer to Anjaneya's prayer Lord Muruga appeared with Deivanai and with the help of his weapon "VEL" pierced on this hill and water started to ooze out from the hill which helped Lord Anjaneya to quench his thirst. Even today the villagers of this area use the natural water from that particular pond for drinking and other purposes. The last Kumbabhishekam was performed in the year 1969.
There are nearly 550 steps to be claimed to reach the main temple. There is small temple for the Lord Ganasha on the way. Main deity here is Lord Subramaniya (Sri Karthikeya) with his
consorts Sri Devayani and Sri Valli.
Adjacent to sannathi of Lord Subramaniya is the sannathi of Lord Anjaneya Swami. There is a small 'rath' made of wood for taking the deity around the temple in 'parikrima'.
If you climb the steps that are adjacent to the Anjaneya sannathi, you will see the place from where Lord Subramaniya had witnessed Lord Anjaneya quenching his thirst.
Adjacent to that is the spring from where water is collected in the tank.
The temple celebrates all the functions connected with Lord Subramaniya like Karthika of every month, thai pusam, panguni uttaram vaikasi visakam etc.
Website : http://www.pearlscorniche.com/anuvavi-subramanyasamy.html
Name : Arulmigu Kulanthai VelayuthaSwamy Thirukoil
Location : It is located at Kurunthamalai, in Coimbatore District, in Tamil Nadu. It is about 24 km from Coimbatore and 4 km from Karamadai.
Description : The presiding deity here is Kuzhandai Velayudaswamy (Lord MUruga), enshrined in a west facing sanctum. There is a Vinayakar image worshipped at the base of the hill. Tirumalai Nayakar of Madurai is believed to have built this hill temple.
Arulmigu Kulanthai VelayuthaSwamy Thirukoil is one of the most beautiful temples in the region and was built around 750 years ago. The temple was named after its location on a hill covered with full of ‘Kurunda’ trees and hence the name ‘Kurunda Malai’.
Legend : Legend has it that Thiru Agasthiya Munivar got 'Mandira Upadesam’ from Lord Muruga at this temple.
Festivals : The major festivals celebrated here include Thaipusam, Panguni Uthram and Chithirai Kani. During the festive occasions thousands of devotees throng here to obtain the blessings of the Lord.
Website : http://www.india9.com/i9show/Arulmigu-Kulanthai-VelayuthaSwamy-Thirukoil-26844.htm
Name : Lingyin Temple, Língyǐn Sì. The temple's name is commonly literally translated as Temple of the Soul's Retreat.
Location : It is located north-west of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China.
Description : Lingyin Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Chan sect. The monastery is the largest of several temples in the Wulin Mountains, which also features a large number of grottos and religious rock carvings, the most famous of which is the Feilai Feng; literally "the peak that flew hither").
The monastery was founded in 328 AD during the Eastern Jin Dynasty by Indian monk Huili. From its inception, Lingyin was a famous monastery in the Jiangnan region. It still has the Stone Pagoda which contains Huili's Ashes.
At its peak under the Kingdom of Wuyue (907-978), the temple boasted nine multi-storey buildings, 18 pavilions, 72 halls, more than 1300 dormitory rooms, inhabited by more than 3000 monks. Many of the rich Buddhist carvings in the Feilai Feng grottos and surrounding mountains also date from this era.
The Feilai Feng grottos
Feilai Feng, or "the Peak that Flew Hither", also commonly translated as "Flying Peak", is located in front of the temple proper. The peak is so-named because it is made of limestone, giving it a craggy appearance very different from the surrounding mountains. Legend holds that the peak was originally from India (with some versions suggesting that it is Vulture Peak, but flew to Hangzhou overnight as a demonstration of the omnipotence of Buddhist law. A large number of carvings dot the surface of the peak. More are located in various caves and grottos throughout the peak. Within the main cave, dedicated to the bodhisattva Guanyin, there is a crack in the ceiling of the cave that stretches up to the surface, so that a person standing at a certain position can see a sliver of sunlight. This is known as the "one thread of heaven"
Other Attraction :
Hall of the Heavenly Kings
The formal entrance of the temple is the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. The principal statue in this hall is that of the Maitreya Buddha in his manifestation as the cloth bag monk, or the Laughing Buddha. At the back, facing up the hill, is the Skanda Buddha, or Weituo as he is known in Chinese. This statue dates from the Southern Song Dynasty. Arranged along the left and right are the Four Heavenly Kings. The ceiling is ornately painted and decorated with phoenixes and dragons.
Visitors to the temple are often impressed by the size and majesty of the entrance hall and its statues of the heavenly kings. Indeed, the hall of the Heavenly Kings at the Lingyin Temple is as large or larger than the main hall at many temples, reflecting its status as the centre of Buddhism in south-eastern China.
Grand Hall of the Great Sage
The second and principal hall is the Mahavira Hall, or the Grand Hall of the Great Sage. It is separated from the Hall of the Heavenly Kings by a large courtyard, featuring a raised lawn bordered with trees. To the left of the courtyard stands the Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats.
Hall of the Medicine Buddha
Further uphill and behind the main hall is the Hall of the Medicine Buddha, housing a statue of the Bhaisajyaguru Buddha, commonly called the Medicine Buddha.
Uphill from the Hall of the Medicine Buddha is the Sutra Library (Chinese: 藏经楼; pinyin: Cángjīng Lóu). This, and the Huayan Hall behind it, were built from 2000 to 2002 to re-create the five-hall main axis. The Sutra Library does not house a major statue and is not open for worship.
The fifth and last hall on the main axis is the Avatamsaka Hall, or Huayan Hall. Built in 2002, this hall houses statues of the three sages of the Avatamsaka Sutra, known as the Huayan Sutra in Chinese - Shakyamuni, Manjusri, and Samantabhadra.
Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats
The Hall of Five Hundred Arhats, also a modern addition, faces onto the western side of the court yard in front of the main hall. The building has a complex floor plan, shaped like a Buddhist swastika. Along the arms of the swastika are arranged the five hundred arhats as slightly larger-than-life bronze statues. Each statue is seated on a unique ornate seat. At the centre, where the arms of the swastika join, stands a bronze canopy housing statues of four bodhisattvas representing the four cardinal directions. This is currently the tallest solid bronze structure in the world.
Website : http://www.lingyinsi.org/
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Name : Buddha in Nha Trang
Location : Nha Trang, Vietnam
Description : At the top of the hill, behind the pagoda, is a huge white Buddha seated on a lotus blossom and visible from all over the city. Around the statue's base, are fire-ringed relief busts of Thich Quang Duc and six other Buddhist monks who died in self-immolations in 1963. The platform around the 14m-high figure has great views of Nha Trang and nearby rural areas. As you approach the pagoda from the street, the 152 stone steps up the hill to the Buddha begin to the right of the structure.
You should take some time to explore off to the left, where there's an entrance to another hall of the pagoda. Genuinely desperate-seeming beggars congregate within the complex, as do a number of scam-artists. The pagoda is located about 400m west of the train station, just off Ð 23 Thang 10.
Website : http://www.vietnamtraveltour.net/nha-trang-buddha.html
Friday, July 17, 2009
Name : Kye Monastery
Location : Situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet and in a place that is known as the 'Little Tibet' is Kye Monastery. The monastery is around 12 km north of Kaza in the Spiti valley (the Middle country or the Little Tibet) above Kye village. It can be reached by covering a distance of 210 km from Manali to Kaza and from there following a track on the north that leads to the monastery.
Description : The monastery is a wonderful example of the monastic architecture that came into prominence during the 14th century because of the Chinese influence. Regular invasions have led to temples built over one another. There are low rooms and narrow corridors. Not so well lit passages, difficult staircases and small doors lead to prayer rooms which themselves do not conform to a single design.
The walls of the monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings and murals which instantly attract the attention of visitors. An image of Buddha in the position of dhyana is also there in the monastery.
Kalachakra Ceremony : Kalachakra, for Buddhist, is 1000 years or the 'Wheel of Time'. The Kye Monastery was established in 1000 AD and in the year 2000, it became exactly 1000 year old. This millennium year celebration saw the presence of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The Kalachakra ceremony is also initiated every year by the Dalai Lama. The ceremony is hugely sacred for the Buddhists and sees more than merely pujas and religious congregation. It is actually an opportunity for the Buddhists to arise their Buddha nature by various means - teaching, prayers, blessings, devotions, mantra, yoga and meditation. The ceremony that continues for few days is an excellent way to discover peace within oneself. Infact, the ceremony is considered so auspicious that even being simply present there is believed to free one from his agonies.
The concentration during the ceremony is basically on five subjects - cosmology, psycho-physiology, initiation, sadhana and Buddhahood. Showing way to the devotees are the Kalchakra Mandala and Viswatma deity in union with his consort.
Website : http://www.indialine.com/travel/himachalpradesh/lahaul-spiti/kye-monastery.html
Name : Jwalamukhi Temple
Location : It is perched on a ridge called Kali dhar in Himachal Pradesh. Jwalaji is 30 km. from Kangra, 473 Km from Delhi and 212 Km from Shimla.
Legend : Jwalamukhi is said to be the spot where the half-burnt tongue of Sati fell, hence the burning flames or 'tongues' of fire.
The temple of Jwalamukhi is not an architectural delight. Moreover, there is no idol to worship too. The building has a gilt dome and a silver plated folding doors. Inside, there is a 3 feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre, there is a hollowed rock over a primary fissure of flame. This one is regarded as the mouth of the Mahakali. Flames emit out from several other point in the pit. They are nine in total and represent the different form of the goddess - Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Ambika and Anjana. There are two lions in front of the temple.
The History of Jwalamukhi Temple : The history of the Jwalamukhi Temple states that the great Mughal emperor Akbar visited it and tried to douse of the flame of the temple. However, when unsuccessful, he willingly submitted to the power of the goddess. He presented a gold chhatri (umbrella) for the goddess which is said to have turned into copper when he turned around to have a look at it before leaving. The King of Nepal presented a magnificent bell, which adorns the front hall. Milk and water is offered to the flames, the 'puja' going on for the whole day.
Time to visit : During March-April and September-October every year, colorful fairs are held during the Navratra celebration.
Name : Vahramashen Church
Location : Near the fortress of Amberd on the slopes of Mount Aragats in the Aragatsotn province of Armenia.
Description : Vahramashen Church also known as the Church of Amberd is an 11th century Armenian church. The fortress stands on a rocky cape formed by the rivers Ambert and Arkashen. Later, the fortress and its surroundings belonged to the Pahlavouni princes. The latter were a powerful family in the X century. Ambert was conquered by the Mongols in 1236 and destroyed by fire. It was never rebuilt.
Name : Hovhannavank Monastery
Location : Hovhannavank is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the village of Ohanavan in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. It is situated atop a steep gorge carved by the Kasagh river.
Description : The monastery's title originates from the combination of the name Hovhan (Armenian for Jonah) and the word “vank,” which in Armenian means “monastery.” The monastery was dedicated to John the Baptist, whom Armenians venerate as their patron-saint. The monastery stands on the edge of the Qasakh River Canyon, and its territory is adjacent to the village of Ohanavan.
The oldest part of the monastery is the single nave basilica of St. Karapet (i.e. Holy Forerunner, John the Baptist) that was founded at the beginning of the fourth century by St. Gregory the Enlightener, who baptized Armenia into the world’s first Christian nation. The wooden roof of the early church was replaced in 554 AD with a thatch cover, and the basilica itself underwent profound renovation between 1652 and 1734.
The centerpiece of the monastery is the Cathedral built between 1216 and 1221 through the donation of Prince Vache Vachutian. The Cathedral has a cruciform floor plan, with two story sacristies in each of the four extensions of the church. The dome has an umbrella-shaped roof, which is unique to Armenian churches.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovhannavank_Monastery
Name : Saghmosavank Monastery
Location : It is located in the village of Saghmosavan in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia
Description : The Saghmosavank Monastery is a 13th century Armenian monastic complex located in the village of Saghmosavan. Like the Hovhannavank Monastery which is five kilometers north, Saghmosavank is situated atop the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh river. Their silhouettes dominate the adjacent villages and rise sharp against the background of the mountains crowned by Mount Aragats.
The main temples of the monasteries erected by Prince Vache Vachutyan - the Church of Zion in Saghmosavank (1215) and the Church of Karapet in Hovhannavank (1216-1221) belong to the same type of cross-winged domed structure with two-floor annexes in all the corners of the building. Subcupola space predominates in the interiors of both churches, which is reflected in the exterior shapes of these structures.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saghmosavank_Monastery
Name : Khor Virap
Location : Its location, near the closest point to Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, offers a spectacular view of the mountain, the national symbol of Armenia.
Description : The main church, St. Astvatsatsin, dates from the end of the 17th century. The smaller St. Gevorg Chapel was originally constructed in 642 by Catholicos Nerses III the Builder, but has been repeatedly rebuilt. St. Gevorg was built over the pit of imprisonment of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. This prison pit is where Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. As reverence for Saint Gregory's act of healing and kindness, the King converted Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khor_Virap
Name : Mt. Nantai San, Japan
Location : Above beautiful lake Chuzenji and the ancient temple-studded town of Nikko is the sacred mountain of Nantai San in Japan
Description : Also known as Kurokiyama and Futaarasan, the 2484 meter peak has been a place of Shinto pilgrimage since at least the 4th century AD. Local legends tell of a powerful mountain spirit that assisted hermits and monks in spiritual realization, and by the 8th century Nantai San was a favored site for Buddhist practitioners on solitary retreats.
Besides finding the place highly conducive for the practice of meditation, people receive telepathic and visionary information which indicate that Nantai San had an energy field that would "awaken, stimulate, and amplify the capacity of human creativity".
Time to visit : The particular energy field is highly concentrated during the time of August 1-7 when many thousands of pilgrims climb the mountain from behind the Chugushi shrine.
Website : http://www.sacredsites.com/asia/japan/nantai_san.html
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Name : Guoqing Temple
Location : Tiantai Mountain, Zhejiang province, China
Significance : This mountain temple is the site where indigenous Chinese Buddhism branched away from Buddhist teachings and doctrine commonly found in India. From there, the Tiantai sect of Buddhism spread to both Korea and Japan during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). The tall brick Guoqing Pagoda built at the temple in the year 597 is still standing, making it one of the oldest surviving brick pagodas in China (after the 40 m tall Chinese Songyue Pagoda built in 523 AD).
Description : It is a Buddhist temple originally built in 598 AD during the Sui Dynasty, and renovated during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722-1735 AD) of the Qing Dynasty. It is located roughly 220 km from the city of Hangzhou. It was the initial site for the creation of the Tiantai Mahayana Buddhist sect, founded by Zhiyi (538-597 AD). The temple covers a square surface area of some 23000 square m (75440 ft squared). The temple features 600 rooms in a total of 14 different halls, including the Grand Hall of Sakyamuni, the Hall of Five Hundred Arhats, the Hall of Monk Jigong, etc. The exterior of the temple features Chinese pagodas such as the Sui Pagoda, the Seven Buddha Pagoda, and the Memorial Pagoda of Monk Yi Xing (683-727 AD).
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Name : Pacha Tata and Pacha Mama is the Quechan or Inca word for Earth Father and Mother Earth
Location : On the Amantaní island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca.
Description : These are the pre-Inca temples sitting on the two high peaks of Amantani Island which are dedicated to fertility. Pacha Mama and Pacha Tata are two important figures that symbolize the principle of complementarity and harmony in the Andean cultures: the Chacha Warmi. The large hills are covered by small square farms enclosed by four foot stone walls. On the steep stone stairway up to the temple, we are greeted by adorable local children selling bracelets. We can buy Benita's wares.At Pacha Tata we can enjoy the beautiful views of the island and the lake.
Legend : According to legend, if you walk around the temple three times and make a wish to Pacha Tata, it will come true. After making our wishes, we can watch the sunset across the lake. Then we can walk up the next hill to the Pacha Mama temple and watch the moon and stars glow at night.
The Amantani island's toad-like shape symbolizes material and spiritual wealth, giving balance to the individual and offering organized visits to overcome emotional problems, bring harmony, encounter the interior and bring balance to the body's energies.
Fiesta de la Santa Tierra occurs the third Thursday in January annually. This is the only day the temples (at the top of peaks) are open. The rest of the year it is closed to the public. (You can however take a walk to the top and circle Pacha Mama 3 times for a wish and get a glimpse of the sun going down across the waters of Lake Titicaca and celebrate Mother Earth all around you.)
During the festival the population split in two -- half at the Temple of Pachamama and the other half at the Temple of Pachatata (on Amantani's other peak), symbolizing the islanders' ancient dualistic belief system. A representative of each group will race to a point between the two. According to tradition, a victory for Pacha Mama means a bountiful harvest for the coming season.
Name : Doi Tung Temple
Location : Doi Tung (Flag Mountain) located in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand
Description : At the top of the mountain Doi Tung is the thousand years old temple of Wat Phrathat Doi Tung. It is a Buddhist temple since 911 AD and it is assumed that the left collar bone of Buddha is found in two pagodas. On the way to the top, enjoy the view and then on a visit to the Lahu and Akha hill tribe village known for its hand woven textiles and silver jewelry.
The temple is an important pilgrimage spot for Buddhists from many countries. Thais will also make a pilgrimage of sorts to the royal villa of the Princess Mother, the mother of the current king, who passed away in 1995. The villa has been preserved as it was when the Princess Mother lived there, and turned into a museum.
Other attractions : A long drive the boat propeller in the Mekong River, the natural rock formations and caves with spectacular formations, such as the Big Cave, Fish Cave. Visit www.homestaytravelchiangrai.com for more photos and information.
Website : http://thailandforvisitors.com/north/chiangrai/doitung.html
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Name : Erechtheum
Location : North side of the Acropolis of Athens in Greece
The temple as seen today was built between 421 and 407 BC. Its architect may have been Mnesicles, and it derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. Some have suggested that it may have been built in honour of the legendary king Erechtheus, who is said to have been buried nearby. Erechtheus and Erichthonius were often syncretized. It is believed to have been a replacement for the Pesistratid temple of Athena Polias destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC.
The need to preserve multiple adjacent sacred precincts likely explains the complex design. The main structure consists of up to four compartments, the largest being the east cella, with an Ionic portico on its east end. Other current thinking would have the entire interior at the lower level and the East porch used for access to the great altar of Athena Polias via a balcony and stair and also as a public viewing platform.
The entire temple is on a slope, so the west and north sides are about 3 m (9 ft) lower than the south and east sides. It was built entirely of marble from Mount Pentelikon, with friezes of black limestone from Eleusis which bore sculptures executed in relief in white marble. It had elaborately carved doorways and windows, and its columns were ornately decorated (far more so than is visible today); they were painted, gilded and highlighted with gilt bronze and multi-colored inset glass beads. The building is known for early examples of egg-and-dart, and guilloche ornamental moldings.
Religious functions :
The Erectheum was associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians: the Palladion, which was a xoanon (defined as a wooden effigy fallen from heaven - not man-made) of Athena Polias (Protectress of the City); the marks of Poseidon's trident and the salt water well (the "salt sea") that resulted from Poseidon's strike; the sacred olive tree that sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful rivalry with Poseidon for the city; the supposed burial places of the mythical kings Cecrops and Erechtheus; the sacred precincts of Cecrops' three daughters, Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaurus; and those of the tribal heroes Pandion and Boutes.
The temple itself was dedicated to Athena Polias and Poseidon Erechtheus. Within the foundations lived the sacred snake of the temple, which represented the spirit of Cecrops and whose well-being was thought essential for the safety of the city. The snake was fed honey-cakes by Canephorae, the priestesses of Athena Polias, by custom the women of the ancient family of Eteoboutadae, the supposed descendants of the hero Boutes. The snake's occasional refusal to eat the cakes was thought a disastrous omen.
Late antiquity and the Middle Ages :
The intact Erechtheum was extensively described by the Roman geographer Pausanias (1.26.5 - 27.3), writing a century after it had been restored in the 1st century AD. The internal layout has since been obscured by the temple's later use as a church and possibly as a Turkish harem.
Modern Times :
One of the caryatids was removed by Lord Elgin in order to decorate his Scottish mansion, and was later sold to the British Museum (along with the pedimental and frieze sculpture taken from the Parthenon). Athenian legend had it that at night the remaining five Caryatids could be heard wailing for their lost sister. Elgin attempted to remove a second Caryatid; when technical difficulties arose, he tried to have it sawn to pieces. The statue was smashed, and its fragments were left behind. It was later reconstructed haphazardly with cement and iron rods.
Recent events :
The Caryatids have been transferred to the New Acropolis Museum. The first was carried over safely on December 9th, 2007, via an elaborate system of aerial cranes.
Within the new museum, the statue was reunited with its long-missing sandalled left foot, which was identified among rubble in the 1980s. The reassembled Caryatid, along with the four others remaining in Athens, is having its decayed patina thoroughly restored by laser, and is on display in the new museum.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Name : The San-wei Mountain and Guan-yin Temple
Location : The mountain described by the Tun Huang Lu is directly west from the Mogao oasis, Dunhuang, China ( An oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China.)
Apart from its prominence, rising as it does above the surrounding hills, its apparent religious significance may be related to its shape, with three distinct peaks recalling the Chinese character (shan) for Mountain. As Prof. Wu Hung has pointed out, images of mountains with three peaks appear in early Chinese representations of "The Heavens."
A trail provides access to the top of the mountain. Near the monastery at the Guan-yin Well, a sign on the trail indicates it leads to Guan-yin Shan. The trail is well trodden, but occasionally there are misleading forks; in general one should keep to the right. The trail from the north basically follows the ridge line; as the first photo shows from up on the ridge, those who have sensitivity to exposure at heights probably should not attempt it.
From the Mogao Caves to the top of the mountain takes a couple hours. At the top is a temple built (or at least re-built) in modern times. Apart from the obvious pagoda, it has a small room for visitors to sleep in and a separate room with a shrine to Guan-yin.
Website : http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/cities/china/dh/san.html
Name : Gargantuan Guanyin Buddha Statue
Location : Sanwei Buddhist Holy Mountain. Located due East of the Mogao Caves complex Sanwei Mountain is one of the lesser visited places near Dunhuang
Description : At a relatively small distance driving out of Dunhuang, some 18 kilometers some of which along a treacherous road through ravines and underneath steep cliffs and rock-falls Sanwei Mountain Valley and Temple Complex offer a rich reward for visitors. Admire the GuanYin Well Buddhist Temple Pavilions and their Murals, pray at the Multiple Altars and then come face to face with Sanwei Mountain's Gargantuan Guanyin Buddha Statue.
Website : http://www.drben.net/ChinaReport/Gansu_Province/Dunhuang/Landmarks-Hotspots/Dunhuang-Landmarks-Monuments-Index.html
Name : Guanyin of Mount Xiqiao
Location : Nanhai district, Foshan, Guangdong, China
Description : Xiqiao Shan's primary tourist attraction is a gigantic statue of Guan Yin, reminiscent of Hong Kong's famous Lantau Island Big Buddha. Sitting atop one of the highest points of Xiqiao Shan, Big Guan Yin is bronze plated and surrounded by a moat.
This humonguous statue of Guan Yin was built in the 1990's when Xiqiao was first officially transformed into a tourist zone, but the legend of Guan Yin is a very ancient one... Actually, Guan Yin is really the Chinese version of the Indian bodhisattva Avalokitesvara... According to the Lotus Sutra, this being can assume any form required in order to fulfill the mission of relieving suffering so it can be either male or female. In China, Guan Yin is usually portrayed as a woman, just as she appears in the famous Chinese classic saga "Journey to the West".
Commonly known in the West as the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin is also revered by Chinese Taoists as an Immortal.
Website : http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/China/Guangdong_Sheng/Guangzhou-1017747/Off_the_Beaten_Path-Guangzhou-Xiqiao_Shan_Teng-BR-1.html
Name : Usami Kannon
Location : Located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Ito City, in the tiny town of Usami. Usami is a small town on the Izu Peninsula of Japan.
Description : This 50-meter high sitting statue of the Kannon (built to pray for global peace) was constructed in 1982. The Kannon sits on a hill above the town. Reportedly the largest sitting statue of Kannon in Japan. The temple grounds hold a broad array of statues, including those from Tibet and Nepal, numerous mandala, and statues of the Seven Lucky Gods. Some web sites claim it is the Jibo Kannon (Loving Mother Kannon).
The deity depicted in the statue is known as Avalokitesvara. is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism. In China and its sphere of cultural influence, Avalokiteśvara is often depicted in a female form known as Guan Yin. (However, in Taoist mythology, Guan Yin has other origination stories which are unrelated to Avalokiteśvara.)
Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmapāni ("Holder of the Lotus") or Lokeśvara ("Lord of the World"). In Tibetan, Avalokiteśvara is known as Chenrezig, and is said to be incarnated in the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa and other high Lamas. In Mongolia, he is called Megjid Janraisig, Xongsim Bodisadv-a, or Nidüber Üjegči.
Website : http://www.kannon.co.jp
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Name : Baguashan
Location : Mount Bagua, Changhua City, Taiwan
Description : On Taiwan's eastern fringe is high Baguashan (Eight Trigram Mountain). On the top of which its crowning glory – the iconic 92m-tall Great Buddha Statue.
Towering 22m above its brightly coloured lotus flower base, the seated likeness of the Sakyamuni Buddha has become one of Taiwan's most recognizable landmarks since its construction in 1961. The serene figure is the dominant feature of the local landscape, visible from several places in town and giving the area an enchanting ambience.
Built on the former site of a commemorative tablet erected during the Japanese occupation, it is made entirely of reinforced concrete and has a hollow, six-storey interior. The inside walls, decorated with dioramas depicting the stages of Buddha's life, have been given a facelift, and visitors can ascend stairs leading as high as the statue's neck.
Baguashan affords great views of Changhua, on very clear days yielding vistas to the sea; for this reason it was an important military lookout up until the Japanese colonial period. Behind the statue to the east is the three-storey Great Buddha Temple, the top floor of which is a superb place to watch the sun set over the Great Buddha's shoulders. Still further east is the tranquil Baguashan Scenic Area, interspersed with short walkways leading to pavilions and city overlooks.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Name : Baekdamsa Temple
Location : It is located in Inje County, Gangwon province, South Korea.
History : This temple was founded in 647 during the Shilla Dynasty by a well respected monk at the time by the name of Jajang who named the temple Hangye-sa. The temple wasn’t always located at its present location because the monks over the years had to move the temple multiple times due to fire. The present version was completed in 1957.
Legend : The name of the temple also has changed over time. Originally called Hangyesa. It has been at its present location for about a thousand years and was called Baekdam-sa when a Buddhist monk had a vision to climb Mt. Sorak and count the number of pools between the mountain and the temple. If he did this, it would protect the temple from fire. The monk climbed Mt. Sorak, walked back to the temple, and counted 100 pools along the way. After his walk it was decided the temple would be called Baekdam-sa meaning the 100 pools temple.
Description : The temple is located in the Inner Sorak area of the Gangwon-do’s, scenic Soraksan National Park which is mostly wild, natural, and untouched by man. For anyone looking for unspoiled wilderness in Korea this is the place. The small village of Yongdae-ri is the access point the temple. From Yongdae-ri a short bus ride takes visitors to the temple located seven kilometers up a twisting and winding road that traverses the Baekdam Valley.
A better option is to avoid the bus and hike up the valley instead. The walk to the temple is only seven kilometers which takes about an hour to complete and will be rewarded with incredible views compared to being crunched into a bus with dozens of oversized visors.
The road to the temple follows a beautiful flowing river that twists and turns through the valley. The water is crystal clear has no mineral taste to it and just had a cool, fresh water.
The valley opens up a bit and the river widens significantly. Then the road reaches a pedestrian bridge that takes visitors into the Baekdam-sa Temple. Across the bridge visitors are welcomed by Buddhist deities located in a small gate. Once into the compound the temple is actually in appearance very similar to other temples in Korea. It has long wooden and colorful buildings. It has a big bronze bell and drum.
Attractions : Attractions at the temple include National Treasure No. 1182--Wooden Amityus Buddha Statue--which dates to the 18th century, and Susimgyo, a wooden bridge in front of the property that spans Baekdam Gyegok valley. Baekdamsa also is near Seoraksan and Mt. Soraksan Nature Reserve.
Website : http://rokdrop.com/2008/05/24/places-in-korea-baekdam-sa-temple/
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Name : Christ the Redeemer
Location : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is located at the peak of the 710-m Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, overlooking the city.
Description : With arms spread wide -- as if to embrace the whole city of Rio de Janeiro sprawling below in spectacular disorder -- the Cristo Redentor statue can be seen from all over town.
For a pedestal, the statue has the 2,310-foot mountain called Corcovado. The Christ figure on top rises another 100 feet, its arms extending nearly 92 feet from fingertip to fingertip, with a weight of some 700 tons.
French sculptor Paul Landowski and his team of artisans erected the impressive statue to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Brazil's 1822 independence from Portugal. Due to budget constraints, however, the centennial artwork was finished nearly a decade later in 1931, and then only with help from the Vatican. Sleekly contemporary in appearance, the statue was fashioned of soapstone and concrete.
The Cristo Redentor figure vies with Sugarloaf Mountain as the emblem of the city of the cariocas. And its site offers a view over Rio that is even more spectacular than Sugarloaf's, taking in the famous beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema, tree-lined residential neighborhoods, the bay, and a blue lagoon called Rodrigo de Freitas. Corcovado itself is enveloped within a tropical reserve where waterfalls tumble and butterflies flit through thick forests.
Local residents like to go up to see the statue by riding on a 2.3-mile cog railway whose tracks for cogwheel steam engines were laid up the mountainside in 1885. During the 20-minute ride, the train passes through leafy green tunnels of trees and provides views of Brazil's city of pleasure and poverty, carnival and beaches, far below.
In the evening, powerful spotlights illuminate the statue of Christ, making it glow and appear almost to levitate above the darkened peak. By day or night, no matter where you may go in the city of Rio, the statue has the presence of an icon.
Website : http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/christ-the-redeemer-statue-landmark.htm
Name : Mount Kōya
Location : Mount Koya is the generic name of specific mountains in Wakayama prefecture to the south of Osaka. Also, Kōya-san is a modifying word for Kongōbuji. There is no one mountain officially called Kōya-san in Japan.
Description : First settled in 819 by the monk Kūkai, Mt. Koya is primarily known as the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located in an 800 m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain. This was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant ( Similar to the Taoist temple Huashan in China ), the original monastery has grown into the town of Koya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims. The mountain is home to the following famous sites:
* Okunoin, the mausoleum of Kūkai, surrounded by an immense graveyard (the largest in Japan)
* Konpon Daitō, a pagoda that according to Shingon doctrine represents the central point of a mandala covering not only Mt. Koya but all of Japan
* Kongōbu-ji, the headquarters of the Shingon sect
In 2004, UNESCO designated Mt. Koya, along with two other locations on the Kii Peninsula, as World Heritage Sites.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_K%C5%8Dya
Name : Ōminesanji
Location : This Temple is situated on the top of Mount Omine (Mt.Sanjo) in the Kansai region, Honshū, Japan.
Description : Mount Omine is famous for its controversial ban on women and for its three tests of courage. Officially known as Mount Sanjo, it is more popularly known as Mount Omine due to its prominence in the Omine mountain range.
The temple Ōminesanji, is the headquarters of the Shugendō sect of Japanese Buddhism and the entire mountain is part of a pilgrimage and training ground for the yamabushi.
History : The monastery at Mount Ōmine was founded in the 8th century by En no Gyōja, as a home for his new religion of Shugendō. Shugendo literally means "the path of training and testing," and is based on the self-actualization of spiritual power in experiential form through challenging and rigorous ritualistic tests of courage and devotion known as shugyo.
Ban on Women : Traditionally, women in Japan were not allowed to climb mountains sacred to the Shinto religions. While the origins of the traditions can only be guessed at, originally these areas were banned to unclean people, such as those who had recently had a death in the family, or women on their period, which was believed to be linked to Shinto concepts of impurity, specifically the "blood impurity" brought on by menstruation and childbirth.
Other sacred mountains had different traditions, such as segregating the sexes by season, allowing women to climb at some times and men to climb at others. It is believed that the reason for this ban was to remove thoughts of temptation from the Yamabushi monks who are supposed to practice strict self-denial of a hermit in isolated mountain. Eventually the bans came to be called Nyonin Kekkai and were off-limits to women only.
Mount Ōmine is the headquarters of the Shugendō religion, an all-male asetic practice with a long tradition. Because of decrease of asetic practioners in modern Japan, most Shugendō-related mountains are no longer used for mountain retreats, and are now tourist attractions. Consequently, these sites removed their gender-restrictions and only Mount Ōmine remains.
Tests of courage :
There are three shugyo (Tests) on Mount Ōmine, each said to strengthen the spiritual power of the challenger. Climbers not wishing to take the tests can easily walk around them.
* Kane Kane Iwa - The Hanging Stone, also known as the Crab Rock due to the position one must take when ascending, is a roughly 30-foot tall cliff, most of which is easily climbable. However, at the top there is an overhanging rock. To climb the rock, one must swing out over the overhang, using an embedded length of chain to ascend.
* Nishi no Nozuki - The Insight from the West is a sheer cliff, roughly 200 feet high, roughly the same height as the Golden Gate Bridge. Novices are held head-first over the cliff, where they are compelled to admit their faults and promise to follow the social and religious laws.
* Byodo Iwa - The Rock of Equality is only available by special request. It is a rock tower, overlooking a deep cliff. Several projections from the wall allow individuals to cross over to the other side.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_%C5%8Cmine