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10 Famous Buddhist Temple in The World

Buddhism takes as its goal the escape from suffering and from the cycle of rebirth: the attainment of nirvana. There are between 230 million and 500 million Buddhists worldwide. An overview of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world.

Dragon Village at Tasikmalaya, West Java

If you are tired of life in a metropolitan city with its sky scrapers, you should take a few days off to stay in the Dragon village within Neglasari village, Salawu sub-district, Tasikmalaya, West Java. This 1.5 hectares village is still 'green' and not influenced by modernization..

Exotic Dieng Plateau

The name ‘dieng’ which literally translates as ‘abode of the Gods’ says all you need to know about this collection small ancient temples set in the remarkable volcanic landscape of the Dieng Plateau.

Living in the shadow of Indonesia's volcanoes

All hell is about to break loose, but Udi, a 60-year-old farmer from the village of Kinarejo on the Indonesian island of Java, will not budge. Not even though a mere three miles (five kilometers) separates the smoldering peak of Mount Merapi from Kinarejo.

National Geographic : Merapi Eruption

Nationalgeographic.com Smoke rises Monday from Indonesia's Mount Merapi, one of the world's most volatile and dangerous volcanoes.

August 10, 2011

10 Amazing Hindu Temples

Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions, and has over 900 million followers worldwide. Though most of the Hindus live in India there are substantial numbers present in Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Temple construction in India started nearly 2000 years ago and marked the transition of Hinduism from the Vedic religion. The architecture of Hindu temples has evolved ever since resulting in a great variety of styles. They are usually dedicated to one primary Hindu deity and feature a murti (sacred image) of the deity. Although it is not mandatory for a Hindu to visit a Hindu temple regularly, they play a vital role in Hindu society and culture.
10Tanah Lot
Situated on a large rock, Tanah Lot is one of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali, and probably the most photographed. The Tanah Lot temple has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of 7 sea temples, each within eyesight of the next, to form a chain along the south-western coast of Bali.
9Kanchipuram Temples
The City of 1000 Temples, Kanchipuram is one of the oldest cities in South India, and known for its ancient Hindu temples and silk sarees. The city contains several big temples like the Varadharaja Perumal Temple for Lord Vishnu and the Ekambaranatha Temple which is one of the five forms of abodes of Lord Siva.
8Brihadeeswarar Temple
The Brihadishwara Temple, located in Thanjavur, India, was built by the Chola king Rajaraja I in the 11th century. The world’s first complete granite temple, Brihadishwara is a brilliant example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. The temple tower is 66 meters (216 feet) high making it one of the tallest temples in the world.
7Khajuraho
Khajurahoflickr/kuranda
The village of Khajuraho is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It’s numerous Hindu and Jain temples are famous for their erotic sculpture. The temples were built over a span of 200 years, from 950 to 1150. A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities, to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and various Devi forms.
6Banteay Srei
Banteay Sreiflickr/Marc Aurel
Although officially part of the Angkor Wat complex, Banteay Srei lies 25 km (15 miles) north-east of the main group of temples, enough to list it separately here. The Hindu temple was completed in 967 AD and is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still clearly visible today. Banteay Srei is the only major temple at Angkor not built for a king, instead it was constructed by one of king Rajendravarman’s counselors, Yajnyavahara.
5Sri Ranganathaswamy
Sri Ranganathaswamyflickr/sowri
Dedicated to Lord Ranganatha (a reclining form of Lord Vishnu), the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, India is an important shrine that receives millions of visitors and pilgrims every year. With an area of 156 acres (6,31,000 m²), the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The oldest structure of the temple dates back to the 10th century.
4Virupaksha Temple
The Virupaksha Temple in the city of Hampi in India started out as a small shrine and grew into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. It is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since the small shrine was built in the 7th century AD which makes it one of the oldest functioning Hindu temples in India. The largest entrance tower of the temple is 50 meters high.
3Prambanan
Prambananflickr/zsoolt
Prambanan is the largest and most beautiful Hindu temple complex in Indonesia. Located about 18 km east of Yogyakarta, it is somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring Borobudur situated just next door. The two sites are quite different in style though, with Prambanan being a collection of tall and pointed Hindu temples, instead of the single large Buddhist stupa of Borobudur.
Prambanan has three main temples dedicated to Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva and was built around 850AD by the Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java.
2Meenakshi Amman Temple
Meenakshi Amman Templeflickr/raysto
The Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most important Indian Hindu temples, located in the holy city of Madurai. The temple is dedicated to Sundareswar (form of Lord Shiva) and Meenakshi (form of Goddess Parvati). The complex houses 14 magnificent towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities, that are elaborately sculptured and painted.
The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned for the last couple of millennia, though the present structure was built in the early 17th century.
1Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat (“City Temple”) is a vast temple complex in Cambodia featuring the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century AD. These include the famous Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest single religious monument, and the Bayon temple (at Angkor Thom) with its multitude of massive stone faces. During it’s long history Angkor went through many changes in religion converting between Hinduism to Buddhism several times.

11 Incredible Terrace Fields

In order to make the best of poor soil, water conservation, and mountainous terrain, terraced farming was introduced by various cultures around the world. Extremely labor intensive to build, terracing allowed the land to support civilization’s increased need for crops, livestock and poultry. Erosion was avoided, rain and runoff water was preserved, and otherwise unused hillside became arable due to terraced agriculture. Not only do these terraced fields provide essential goods for the local people but they also feature some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.
11Sa Pa Terraces
Sa Pa Terracesflickr/Two Roses
Sa Pa is a town in northwest Vietnam not far from the Chinese border. The rice terrace fields, among the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam, can be found in the Muong Hoa valley between Sa Pa town and the Fansipan Mountain, on a backdrop of thick bamboo woodlands. Local mountain people, the Hmong, Giay, Dao, Tay, and Giay, grow rice and corn on these paddy terraces, along with vegetables. Because of the climate, only one rice crop a year can be produced, resulting in abundant malnutrition.
10Pisac
The still intact terrace fields of Pisac, constructed by the Incas, are still being used today. These mountainous terraces consist of 16 different cultivation sections. Pisac, a word of Quechua origins, means “partridge”. Inca tradition dictated building cities in the shape of birds and animals, and as such, Pisac is partridge shaped. The Pisac terraces included a military citadel, religious temples, and individual dwellings, and overlooks the Sacred Valley, between the Salkantay Mountains. These terraces even boated two suspension bridges, the bases of which can still be seen.
9Douro Valley
Douro Valleyflickr/Ryan Opaz
The home of port wine, the Douro Valley is located in northern Portugal, some distance from the city of Porto. The hills of the valley are covered with terrace fields of vines falling steeply down to the river banks. The scenery of the valley is spectacular with the colors of the land changing throughout the year as the vines mature. In autumn the vines take a reddish and golden color, while in February-March the almond blossom gives an added white pinkish tone to the region. As well as port wine, regular red and white wines are also produced in the valley.
8Bali Terraces
Bali Terracesflickr/Miek37
The archetypical Bali rice terraces are ubiquitous, and Balinese culture has depended on this method of agriculture for almost 2000 years. The Balinese stepped rice paddies were carved by hand, with rudimentary tools, and maintained by succeeding generations.
In central Bali, north of the village of Tegallalang in the Ubud district, lies a series of thriving stepped rice paddies, a favorite with travelers and photographers. Other verdant terraced rice paddies can be found in Sayan, Jatiluwih, Pupuan and Tabanan. In Bali, the terraced rice paddies are worked according to a well organized social order, called a subak. The subak manages the irrigation water sources, on a strict schedule, fairly distributing the water.
7Choquequirao
Choquequiraoflickr/ojjo
Another Peruvian stepped agricultural site is Choquequirao, meaning Cradle of Gold. Seated on the border of Cuzco and Apurimac, this impressive terraced site, is located 3085 meter (10,120 feet) above sea level. Choquequirao contains a staircase configuration, made up of 180 terraces. Built in a completely different style than Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is much larger in area. One can only travel to Choquequirao by foot or horseback, and as such, is visited much less often than Machu Picchu. Without benefit of wheels, the trek to Choquequirao from Cachora can take up to four days!
6Salinas de Maras
The Salineras de Maras, or Inca salt pans have been used for centuries. Salt miners direct natural spring water, containing high concentrations of salt, into the man made terraced flats, numbering around 3,000. This spring water becomes saline by leeching salt from the mountain itself. When the water is evaporated by the sun, thick salt deposits remain. The salt is then cut into huge slabs and transported to the markets. As in some of the Asian rice paddies, these salt pans are passed from generation to generation, and have been in use for centuries. If you plan on visiting, visit in the late afternoon, when the reflected sunset causes the salt pans to appear as if made of gold.
5Ollantaytambo
During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for the Inca resistance. The valleys along Ollantaytambo are covered by an extensive set of agricultural terraces which start at the bottom of the valleys and climb up the surrounding hills. The terraces permitted farming on otherwise unusable terrain. Nowadays Ollantaytambo is an important tourist attraction and one of the most common starting points for hike known as the Inca Trail.
4Longji Terraces
Longji Terracesflickr/thejerk
The Longji or Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces were built over 500 years ago during the Ming Dynasty. The terrace fields are found in Longsheng about a two hours drive from Guilin. From a distance, during the growing season, these winding terraces appear as if they were green woven cables laid out over the hillsides, starting at the riverbank and ending near the mountaintop. One can meander through the paddies and villages, greeting and being greeted by horses, pigs, chickens and hard working locals. These rice terraces are Longsheng’s answer to limited arable land and a scant water supply.
3Hani Terraces
Hani Terracesflickr/Poorfish
The Hani rice paddy steppes are located below the villages on the side of the Ailao Mountains in Yuanyang, and have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. Also carved by hand by the Hani people, these rice terraces have turned a barren hillside into a lush sub-tropical paradise. These terrace fields support enough rice and fish cultivation for hundreds of thousands of people. Water is saved in the hilltop forests, and channeled down to the terraces for irrigation. The rice terraces are flooded from December to March, presenting a spectacular view to travelers.
2Banaue Rice Terraces
Situated in the heartlands of the Cordilleras mountains of the Philippines and rising to an altitude of 1525 meters (5000 ft) are the Banaue Rice Terraces. The terraced fields were carved out by hand without modern tools by the Ifugao tribes and have been producing rice for almost 2,000 years. These terraces are so numerous, steep, and compact, that if stretched out end to end, they would wrap halfway around the globe. Lately, these under maintained rice terraces have been showing their age, as more and more Ifugao tribes people are emigrating to the cities.
1Machu Picchu
Machu Picchuflickr/szeke
One of the most beautiful and impressive ancient sites in the world, Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by Hawaiian historian Hiram Bingham after it lay hidden for centuries above the Urubamba Valley. The “Lost City of the Incas” is invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs.
Machu Picchu’s narrow terraces were constructed from stone blocks, with thousands of pathways and steps, connecting buildings, plazas and the cemetery. Water was channeled in via aqueducts that had been chiseled into the mountainside, for livestock and to irrigate crops of potatoes and corn. There are no growing crops today on Machu Picchu’s terraces, but a spectacular site none the less.

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