Tana Toraja is safely protected beyond the lofty mountains and rugged granite cliffs of the central highlands of the island of Sulawesi and the home of the Toraja people. 'Discovered' and opened to the world from their long isolation only since the beginning of the last century, the Toraja today still adhere to their age-old beliefs, rituals and traditions. The nobility of Toraja are believed to be descendants of heavenly beings who came down by a heavenly stairway to live here on earth in this beautiful landscape. To keep up the energy of the land and its people, the Toraja people believe that these must be sustained through rituals that celebrate both life and death, which are attached to the agricultural seasons. Tourists to Toraja, therefore, are either attracted by its unique culture and rituals, most of which are mostly centered around graves and death ceremonies. While others prefer to avoid the morbid images and go trekking through the spectacular, almost untouched Toraja countryside visiting remote villages, or exhilarate in rafting the Sa'dan river rapids.
Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s directional temples, and is situated on a rock in the ocean, just offshore. From all the beautiful temples on Bali, Tanah Lot is quite special and for many one of the "must-things-to-do".
It is said that Pura Tanah Lot has been built on the recommendation of an important Hindu priest Danghyang Nirartha in the 16th century, who has shaped Bali's Hinduism and religious architecture for the centuries to come.
Tanah Lot is a very important site for pilgrimages and plays an important role in Balinese spiritualism and mythology. The rock that the temple sits on has been eroded by the ocean over the centuries, and is now undergoing a process of restoration.
Not much remains of the once powerful 13th century East Java kingdom of Singosari. An unfinished temple and two giant statues that once stood guard in front of the palace are the only traces left of this great kingdom.
Settled on a hillside plateau, overlooking Prambanan temple complex and with a view to Mount Merapi behind Prambanan Temple complex, lie the remains of a once grand palace. The palace (kraton) is named Ratu Boko after a King Boko of local folklore, but the real owner of the palace is more likely to have been a king of a local dynasty.
The Sailendra dynasty built this Largest Buddhist monument in the world between AD 780 and 840. It was built as a place for glorifying Buddha and a pilgrimage spot to guide mankind from worldly desires into enlightenment and wisdom according to Buddha.
Beautifully restored, Thian Hock Keng Temple, which is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore.
Built-in 1839 with the support of prominent members of the Hokkien community, such as philanthropist Tan Tock Seng, Thian Hock Keng Temple is Singapore's oldest Chinese temple.
Dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, early Chinese immigrants came here to give thanks for their safe passage across the vast waves of the South China Sea.
At the temple, take in the remarkable architecture in the traditional southern Chinese style.
Keep an eye out for the detailed carvings and sculptures of dragons, phoenixes, and deities, as well as the colorful broken porcelain on the roof ridges, a Fujian decorating technique.
Amazingly, not a single nail was used in the original construction of the temple, which is now a gazetted national monument and managed by the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan.
The Cao Dai Temple was finished in 1955 when the Cao Dai Army was formed following the Japanese occupation of Indochina. Caodaists believe that all religions are ultimately the same and seek to promote tolerance throughout the world.
The Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Confucius, in addition to Joan of Arc and Julius Cesar are all honoured at this temple.
There are nine hierarchies of worship including a pope, cardinals and archbishop with festivals, rituals and prayer all practised regularly. The temple is similar in design to a Christian Cathedral featuring side aisles and an altar, as well as a long central nave, all positioned as they would be in a Christian Church, there is even a high dome decorated with clouds and saints.
The main focal point is a Divine Eye symbolising God which has the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil. Ceremonies take place daily with two services accompanied by musicians and a choir singing in English to traditional Vietnamese music.
Mariamman Hindu Temple is a sacred Hindu Temple dedicated to the goddess of the Rain ‘Mariamman’. This temple was built in the late 19th century by traders coming from India and has been well preserved. This complex is the only Hindu temple in Saigon and is believed to have miraculous powers giving luck and wealth to its visitors.
The outer wall of the Temple has a collection of interesting statues of different gods and goddesses like Mariamman, Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesha. The main hall of the complex (The Rajagopuram) stands twelve metres tall and inside you find a well-maintained statue of Mariamman flanked by her protectors ‘Maduraiveeran’ and ‘Pechiamman’.
If you would like to enter the Mariamman Hindu Temple than do not forget to take of your shoes and dress appropriately. To favour the goddess of the rain you can also take some offerings such as joss sticks, jasmine, lilies and gladioli. These can be bought in front of the entrance. In the near vicinity of this temple, you can also find Ben Thanh Market. Entrance to the temple is free of charge and can be visited from 07:00 – 19:00.
Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City.
Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practised widely in Vietnam.
In the main hall, the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang or the 'God of the Heavens' reigns supreme. Aided by two assistants, the Emperor decides who can enter this higher realm. Those who don't pass this gate will meet with the formidable 'God of Hell', on the left, who will send sinners to one of the 10 levels of hell. Life in purgatory is magnificent if somewhat gruesomely represented by the intricate carvings on the temple wall, depicting different kinds of punishments that await transgressors.
In a different hall, the goddess of fertility Kim Hua, surrounded by figures of women and small children, blesses childless couples who pray for an offspring here. The goddess of mercy Kuan Yin, who forms a very important part of any Taoist temple, has an altar in a room on the top floor.
Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and working shrine very much in use by the locals who come here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers and light candles and joss sticks. With worshippers coming and going, the temple can get busy and feel a little cramped. Its dimly lit, the narrow passageways filled with smoke lend an atmospheric feel to the place, adding to its charm.
The Marble Mountains are a cluster of five hills made from limestone and marble in Da Nang. It's also a well-known pilgrimage site with peaks, caves, tunnels and temples all just waiting to be discovered. Named after the elements metal, wood, water, fire and earth, Marble Mountains exist in a coastal area that is renowned for stone-cutting and sculpture about 9km south of Da Nang.
The caves within the mountains hold many secrets including bullet holes from when troops used to spy on the US soldiers relaxing on My Khe Beach below and buildings standing within the caves and grottoes. There are also Buddhist sanctuaries and places of worship dotted across the mountains which are a much-visited spiritual site. You can even see a special circular cave here. It leads to the summit, where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views.
Phap Lam Pagoda is a two-storey temple in Da Nang City Centre, featuring towering trees, manicured gardens, and intricate Buddhist sculptures. Formerly known as Tinh Hoi Pagoda (until renamed as Phap Lam Pagoda), it was built in 1934 along Ong Ich Khiem Street, where Con Market is just a five-minute stroll away.
Despite its location within the bustling Da Nang city centre, the atmosphere here is very serene and peaceful. You can see locals praying in the morning or getting their fortunes told while the resident monks go about their daily lives. As with any Buddhist temple in Vietnam, Phap Lam Pagoda gets packed with devotees during annual festivities such as Tet and Lunar New Year.
The top floor of the pagoda is a presbytery that features intricately carved pillars, handwritten Buddhist Pali incantation, and a golden statue of Buddha while the ground floor hosts an amphitheatre that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. The courtyard of the pagoda houses a 1.1-metre-high seated Buddha statue as well as brass statues of the Goddess of Mercy (Avalokitecvara) and Dai The Chi Bodhisattva. Entrance to Phap Lam Pagoda is free of charge, but donations are welcomed.
There are few places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor Wat. The temple is one of the largest monuments to religion ever built and is truly one the wonders of the world. Believed to have been constructed as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples. As with other Angkorean temples and walled cities such as Angkor Thom, the central theme of Khmer architecture revolved around the idea of the temple-mountain.
Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray.
Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, was a fortified cit enclosing residences of priest, officials of the palace and military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom. These structures were built of wood and have perished but the remaining stone monuments testify that Angkor Thom was indeed a "Great City" as its name implies. Temples inside the walls of the city described are Bayon, Phimeanakas, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Prah Palilay, Tep Pranam and Prasat Suor Prat.
Symbolically, Angkor Thom is a microcosm of the universe, divided into four parts by the main axes. The temple of the Bayon is situated at the exact center of the axes and stands as the symbolical link between heaven and earth. The wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom represents the stonewall around the universe and the mountain ranges around Meru. The surrounding moat (now dry) symbolizes the cosmic ocean.
Shrouded in dense jungle the temple of Ta Prohm is ethereal in aspect and conjures up a romantic aura. Fig, banyan and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof over the structures. Trunks of trees twist amongst stone pillars. The strange, haunted charm of the place entwines itself about you as you go, as inescapably as the roots have wound themselves about the walls and towers', wrote a visitor 40 years ago.
Ta Prohm is among the largest of the monuments in the Angkor complex, the inscription gives an idea of the size of the temple. The complex included 260 statues of gods, 39 towers with pinnacles and 566 groups of residences. Ta Prohm comprises a series of long low buildings standing on one level, which are enclosed by rectangular laterite wall (600 by 1,000 meters, 1,959 by 3,281 feet). Only traces of the wall are still visible. The center of the monument is reached by a series of towers connected with passages. This arrangement forms a ' sort of sacred way into the heart of the monument’; three-square galleries enclose the area.
It is a testimony to the love of symmetry and balance which evolved its style....in pure simplicity of rectangles its beauty is achieved. It is a pyramid mounting in terraces, five of them ...Below Bak-Keng lays all the world of mystery, the world of the Khmer, more mysterious ever under its cover of impenetrable verdure.
Phnom Bakheng is located 1,30 meters (4,265 feet) north of Angkor Wat and 400 meters (1,312 feet) south of Angkor Thom.
Enter and leave Phnom Bakheng by climbing a long steep path with some steps on the east side of the monument (height 67 meters, 220 feet) In the 1960 this summit was approached by elephant and, according to a French visitor, the ascent was "a promenade classic and very agreeable.
Arrive at the summit just before sunset for a panoramic view of Angkor and its environs. The golden hues of the setting sun on this vista are a memorable sight.
The tenth century temple of Banteay Srei is renowned for its intricate decoration carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry.
Banteay Srei is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child's heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone.
Wat Chalong, the largest, most revered and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket was built at the beginning of the 19th century, 1837 according to some sources. Chalong Temple (officially Wat Chaiyatararam) is one of the Must-See places in Phuket, together with the nearby Big Buddha of Phuket as they are relatively close to each other.
The tallest building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall stupa (chedi) sheltering a bone fragment of Lord Buddha. Walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with beautiful painting retracing the most significant steps of Buddha’s life. Each floor is also full of large donated golden statues.
Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a beautiful bird view on the entire temple grounds. Few more steps will lead you to a glass display where the fragment of bone can be contemplated.
Wat Saket in Bangkok Old Town is an Ayutthaya-era shrine with a gleaming gold chedi in Bangkok. Also called the Golden Mount, it occupies an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. The temple welcomes worshippers year-round, though it’s busiest during its annual temple fair in November, during Loy Krathong. The temple grounds have mature trees and typical Buddhist structures such as a main prayer hall, ordination hall and library.
Wat Saket was the capital's crematorium and the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims in the late-18th century. At the base of the Golden Mount, you’ll find an unusual cemetery covered in vines and overgrown trees. It emits a rather spooky out-of-era vibe. Once you arrive at the top of Wat Saket, you’ll be surrounded by a wall of bells and panoramas of Bangkok Old Town.
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. Wat Arun (or temple of the dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water.
Wat Arun is almost directly opposite Wat Pho, so it’s very easy to get to. From Saphan Taksin boat pier you can take a riverboat that stops at Pier 8. From here, a small shuttle boat takes you from one side of the river to the other.
The dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in Bangkok. It’s one must-see sight that no visit to the city would be complete without. It was built in 1782 and for 150 years was the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government.
The Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of the Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
The charm of ancient city of Ayutthaya Thailand continues to gain tourists’ attention as a historic attraction. Not only the old moments but also the new things that shine.
When it comes to historical buildings, Ayutthaya travel is well known for temples and palaces. But in addition to that, a variety of food is also another magnet. You can find fresh river prawns, fish, noodles, and even the never-miss dessert like cotton candy wrap. So, remember to plan your eating trip whenever you visit Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. The capital of Thailand, then known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was a glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia and a regional power for 417 years.
When the sun goes down, the traders have already laid out their wares and the opera singers and fortune tellers begin to emerge. Welcome to the Temple Street Night Market, a popular street bazaar, named after a Tin Hau temple located in the centre of its main drag, and a place so steeped in local atmosphere that it has served as the backdrop to many a memorable movie.
As one of Hong Kong’s most famous and popular temples, Wong Tai Sin Temple is not only famous among locals, but also very well-known among Chinese from all around the world. This has mainly to do with the history and myths behind this unique temple.
The Chinese Temple was built in 1940 by the shire's Chinese population who were drawn to the agricultural industry and the gold rushes of the region.
Far North Queensland is a very special part of Australia. It is lush and Tropical with green intrusive mountains complementing the adjoining blue-water Great Barrier Reef. Innisfail is situated in the heart of Far North Queensland, and it is to this area that peoples from across the globe migrated, to share in Nature's bounty.
The Chinese were one such small group and contributed to the community with their industrious ways and a subtle spiritual and cultural centre, referred to as the "Joss House", but now more appropriately named as the "Innisfail Temple".
Bright Filial Piety Temple has a long history of more than 1700 years. It is a temple with the longest history and largest scale in Lingnan area.
It was originally built as the residence of Zhao Jiande, an offspring of Zhao Tuo, the Nanyue King in the Western Han Dynasty. In the period of the Three Kingdoms, Yu Fan, a lord in the Wu State, when he was relegated to the Southern Sea, he gave lectures here and hence the Guangxiao Temple was called "Yu Yuan" at that time. The temple was also called "He Lin" because of a great many myrobalan trees there.
After Yu Fan's death, his family denoted the residence as a temple and made a slab saying "Zhizhi", and that was the very beginning of the Guangxiao Temple. Bright Filial Piety Temple has a long history and therefore there are a lot of antiques. The Grief Bell which was first set up in the 2nd year of Baoli in the Tang Dynasty (826 A. D.) is in the shape of mushroom and is made of stone with Hercules' embossments around. Those embossments are vivid in facial expressions and well shaped and elegant in postures so that they completely represent the soul of Buddhism.
The Perfume Pagoda, known locally as Chua Huong or ‘inner temple’, is at the centre of a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of mainly Buddhist temples built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich. At the heart of this complex lies the Perfume Temple or Perfume Pagoda in the Huong Tich Cave.
It is believed that the first temple was built here in the 15th century, although legend declares that the site was actually discovered over 2,000 years ago by a Buddhist monk who was meditating nearby. The mountain foothills are an area of great natural and spiritual beauty filled with streams, tropical plants and temples.
There are many pagodas to visit, each offering a different shrine, most of which are Buddhist although one or two are animist. The Perfume Pagoda attracts pilgrims and tourists seeking good luck from the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave which have been named according to the individual blessing they can bestow. Dun Tien offers prosperity and Nui Co offers the chance of giving birth to a girl whilst Dun Gao translates as a ‘rice stack’ to those hoping for a bountiful harvest.
Ngoc Son Temple was built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the centre of the ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’ or Hoan Kiem Lake. Legend describes how an emperor was once given a magical sword which helped him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty and in doing so saw the return of the Golden Turtle God to the lake.
Today ‘Turtle Tower’ stands close to the lake in memory of this legend. There are also endangered large soft-shell turtles swimming in the lake, and to see one of these gentle giants is considered very auspicious. The name of the temple translates to ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ and is predominately dedicated to war hero General Tran Hung Dao who defeated an armed force of 300,000 soldiers sent by Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century to invade Vietnam.
Also inside the pagoda are a large bronze bust and other deities. There are altars dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, some ancient artefacts including ceramics and a preserved specimen of a giant turtle found in the lake weighing 250kg.
Bach Ma Temple is believed to be the oldest temple in Hanoi. This Buddhist temple was originally built in the ninth century by King Ly Thai To in honour of Bach Ma. According to a sign inside the temple, originally the site of the temple was Long Do Mountain. The temple was moved to its current location in the Old Quarter of Hanoi in the 18th century, during the Ly Dynasty, to guard the east side of Thang Long.
The translation of Bach Ma is ́White Horse ́ and this refers to a story behind the construction of the Temple. King Ly Thai To had been struggling to build the temple as its walls kept collapsing. It is said that a white horse delineated the best area to build the temple with its hooves to help the king in constructing the temple.
The Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions. Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.
This ancient site offers a lake of literature, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, turtle steles, pavilions, courtyards and passageways that were once used by royalty. Visiting the Temple of Literature you will discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties in a revered place that has seen thousands of doctors’ graduate in what has now become a memorial to education and literature.
Originally the university only accepted aristocrats, the elite and royal family members as students before eventually opening its doors to brighter ‘commoners’. Successful graduates had their names engraved on a stone stele which can be found on top of the stone turtles.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Also known as the Hanoi Citadel, many artefacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including foundations of old palaces, ancient roads, ponds and wells.
On top of these discoveries, archaeologists also found bronze coins, ceramics and pottery from China and many places in Asia, all of which demonstrate a close trading relationship in the area. Visitors should head for the display room that features interesting excavated items and mock-ups of the citadel itself.
Hsinchu City god Temple (Chenghuang Temple) is regarded as the highest-ranking of all City God temples in Taiwan, due to the superior spiritual power of its City God in protecting the town. In front of the temple is a market with a lot of small stalls selling delicious Taiwanese snacks, including rice noodles, meat balls, thick cuttlefish broth, and Zhuqian Biscuit (Zhuqian is the original name of Hsinchu).
Hsinchu is famous for a number of specialty foods, especially Hsinchu rice noodles, which are produced in Nanshr Village, Hsinchu City. Another famous product of Hsinchu is shiangfen, a traditional cosmetic powder which was used by women throughout Taiwan before the arrival of foreign-style cosmetic products. The powder is also used in offerings to Qiniangma, the guardian spirit of children. Only one store, run by the Tsai Family in Julian Street, still produces this powder. Although there are many stalls from which Hsinchu meatballs can be purchased, many are concentrated around the Chenghuang Temple.
Dadaocheng Cisheng Temple, commonly known as the Dadaocheng Mazu (meaning "Mother-Ancestor") Temple, dedicated to the Tianshang Shengmu (meaning "Heavenly Holy Mother"), the guardian of sailors and also known as Mazu or Tianhou (meaning "Empress of Heaven"), is one of the three main temples in Daodaocheng, along with the Fazhu Temple and the Xia Hai City God Temple. "The first door opens to display the beauty of Guanyin Mountain; thousands of ships have navigated over the running waters" is written on the front gate, pointing out the change of its location over the years. Cisheng Temple was originally located at the intersection of Xining North Road and Minsheng West Road back in 1866, across the trading port, with the Bali Guanyin Mountain to its front right, looking onto the bay of the Tamshui River flowing north. In 1910, the Japanese government tore the temple down to re-plot the urban streets. The locals funded the temple relocation to its current address on Yanping North Road, using the original pillars and stones and preserving its appearance since the reconstruction finished in 1914, until today.
Song Dynasty Town (Songcheng) is the largest theme park in Hangzhou, featuring the cultural characteristics of the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), and also the first theme park built in Zhejiang. With Wuyun Mountain in the north and West Lake to its northeast, Song Dynasty Town is on the northern bank of the Qiantang River. Its layout and architectural style are based on a precious ancient painting, 'Along the River During the Qingming Festival', which was made by famous painter Zhang Zeduan, displaying the urban landscape and people's living condition of that dynasty.
The theme park is divided into three fields, Performing Songcheng, High-tech Songcheng, and Cultural Songcheng. Performing Songcheng includes the Romance of the Song Dynasty and ten theme shows. High-tech Songcheng has many featured events, such as reproducing area of 'Along the River during the Qingming Festival', two distinguishing haunted houses, and a mysterious street. Using advanced technology, they are all very realistic and mysterious, giving visitors a totally different experience. Cultural Songcheng covers some folk activities, such as traditional workshops, custom shows and Buddhist temples.