Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in ndonesia, Combodia,
Fiji Islands and Thailand
Mother Temple of Besakih, Indonesia
The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia, is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali, and one of a series of Balinese temples.
HistoryThe temple probably dates to the fourteenth century.
LocationIt was built on the south slopes of Mount Agung, the principal volcano of Bali.
ArchitectureThis Mother Temple is actually a complex made up of twenty-two temples that sit on parallel ridges. It has stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire or Meru structure, which is called Pura Penataran Agung. All this is aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual person upward and closer to the mountain which is considered sacred.
The main sanctuary of the complex is the Pura Penataran Agung. The symbolic center of the main sanctuary is the lotus throne or padmasana, which is therefore the ritual focus of the entire complex. It dates to around the seventeenth century
A series of eruptions of Mount Agung in 1963, which killed approximately 1,700 people also threatened Puru Besakih. The lava flows missed the temple complex by mere meters. The saving of the temple is regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous, and a signal from the gods that they wished to demonstrate their power but not destroy the monument the Balinese faithful had erected.
FestivalsEach year there are at least seventy festivals held at the complex, since almost every shrine celebrates a yearly anniversary. This cycle is based on the 210-day Balinese calendar year.
It had been nominated as a World Heritage Site as early as 1995, but remains unvested
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Indonesia
Built in 1663, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. The 11 stories of pelinggih meru dedicated for Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Buddha statue also present inside this temple.
Penataran was believed to be dated back to Kediri era. This temple was identified in Nagarakretagama as Palah temple and reported being visited by King Hayam Wuruk during his royal tour across East Java.
The site is being considered to be put on the World Heritage list of sites that have "outstanding universal value" to the world
Kidan Temple, Indonesia
Surawana Temple, Indonesia
Surawana (Indonesian: Candi Surawana, sometimes called Candi Surowono) is a Hindu temple, of the Majapahit Kingdom, located in the Canggu village of the Kediri near Pare district in East Java, Indonesia. It was believed to have been built in 1390 AD as a memorial to Wijayarajasa, the Prince of Wengker. As of today the temple is not fully intact. Only the base of the temple has been restored to its original form and many more bricks are waiting around the structure to be reassembled.
HistorySurawana temple was built in 1390 AD but was not "officially" completed until its inception in 1400. It was built as a memorial for Wijayarajasa, the Prince of Wengker. He was Rajasanagara’s uncle as a result of marriage and he was a great influence of power. Some believe that this did not start out as a monument to the prince, but just a structure that he commissioned. That is why the dates differ when it comes to when it was completed. The sraddha ceremony, which is a ritual funeral ceremony, was held in 1400 which is why some speculate to actual completion date. Not much is known about the history after that or how it came to become dismantled, but today it stands in the small village of Canggu, in the Kediri district right out of Pare. As of right now specialists are trying to reconstruct the base to its original state
DesignSurawana temple is a moderately sized temple with a base that is 7.8 square meters and is 4.6 meters high. The foot is the only existing piece or art still remaining on the structure itself. On the base there is a graduated projection that holds the stairs to the cella (3), which is an inner chamber of the temple. The structure is made to face west just like most East Javanese temples.
Surawana is adorned with many different reliefs, and many of them extend around the whole building. The stories depicted on the walls are made in a way that reflects the direction in which they are facing. For example, The Arjunawiwaha story starts on the East facing wall, then stops and restarts on the Northeast facing wall. Then it continues along the North wall and skips the East and heads down to the South and continues, in the opposite direction, to the West. Everything depicted in the reliefs have to do with the direction. Carvings facing the East, which is the direction of the rising sun and a sacred mountain (3), are the parts of the stories with more religious scenes. The carvings facing the West are more to do with demons, monsters, battles and death. The Arjunawiwaha is a continuous narrative with many different frames, but at some points it is interrupted by the Sri Tanjung and Bubuksha stories which appear on the corners on vertical panels. The panels were considered part of the original story until identified in 1939 (3).
DecorationThe surface of the temple is decorated with many reliefs. It also has ganas, or servants chosen by Ganesha to serve Shiva, on the sides of the temple. They are shown holding up the building with their extended arms. They are similar to the figures shown on the structures at Candi Jawi. Also shown around the ganas are sculptures with earrings, a breastplate, necklace, jeweled belt, bracelet, armbands, and anklets. When the Majapahit Kingdom flourished, there were more contemporary aesthetic representations such as these (3).
On the base of the structure is eighteen horizontal plaques, night vertical panels, and in the middle was a plain band, which was the midsection of the temple. The stairs on the temple have nagas and makaras which are flat, ornamental reliefs in the shape of triangles and animals with their tails turning into elaborate arabesques. (3)
ReliefsThe reliefs there range from whole stories to just simple depictions of everyday life. Three of the major reliefs on the building were the Arjunawiwaha, Sri Tanjung, and Babuksha and Gagang Aking. Some smaller stories were usually ones with morals and quick lessons. A couple examples would be “Crocodile and Bull,” “Heron, Fish, and Crab,” and “Frog and Snake.” In the “Heron, Fish, and Crab” story, the characters learn a very valuable lesson. The bird in the story is wearing a headdress to try to disguise himself as a shaman so that he can go and catch fish. He starts examining three fish when he is attacked by the crab that starts to pinch his neck. The crab sees that the heron has disguised himself to confuse the fish so he pinched him to death. Many of the short stories like this have moral lessons in the end.
One of the most famous stories of all time is Arjunawiwaha. It is decorated on about six different sites in East Java. (3) It usually is on the subject of theater, dance dramas, and paintings and is still very popular. At Candi Surawana, it is on relief panels surrounding the foot of the monument. The story was composed in 1035 by a Javanese poet going by the name of Mpu Kanwa. The story was originally inspired by the Mahabharata and based upon the Kiratarjunya, written by Bharavi. This particular version of the story is modeled after King Airlangga and personifies the perfect king. (3) The perfect king would be a noble demeanor, brave and victorious in war, and be sexually irresistible. The Arijunawiwaha has three sections to it. Arjuna’s meditation, Niwatanawalan Battle, and Arjuna’s Reward into Heaven. In the first section Arjuna is tested three times by the gods. In the second section he is assisted in his battle by Suprabha. In the last section he marries seven heavenly nymphs. This relief is one that wraps around the entire structure and starts at the east wall. It continues to the north side, but then turns back to the east. It passes where the original three scenes are and continues on the west wall and then to the south.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu at first, then Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura (Khmer: , present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian Architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "Temple City" or "City of Temples" in Khmer; Angkor, meaning "city" or "capital city", is a vernacular form of the word nokor ( which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara (नगर). Wat is the Khmer word for "temple grounds", derived from the Pali word "vatta" (वत्त). Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok (Vara Vishnuloka in Sanskrit), after the posthumous title of its founder
UnderstandStretching over some 400 square kilometers, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, theBayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations.
Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. At the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
Angkor itself has no accommodations and few facilities; the nearby town of Siem Reapis the tourist hub for the area.
SymbolismThe temples of Angkor are highly symbolic structures. The foremost Hindu concept is the temple-mountain, where the temple is built as a representation of the mythical Mount Meru: this is why so many temples, including Angkor Wat itself, are surrounded by moats, built in a mountain-like pyramidal shape and topped by precisely five towers, representing the five peaks of Mount Meru. The linga (phallus), representing the god Shiva, was also critical and while the lingas themselves have largely gone, linga stands (carved, table-like blocks of stone) can be found in many if not most rooms in the temples. There was also a political element to it all: most kings wanted to build their own state temples to symbolize their kingdom and their rule.
While early Angkor temples were built as Hindu temples, Jayavarman VII converted to Mahayana Buddhism c. 1200 and embarked on a prodigious building spree, building the new capital city of Angkor Thom including Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and many more as Buddhist structures. However, his successor Jayavarman VIII returned to Hinduism and embarked on an equally massive spree of destruction, systematically defacing Buddhist images and even crudely altering some to be Hindu again. Hinduism eventually lost out to Buddhism again, but the (few) Buddha images in the temples today are later Theraveda additions.
One element that continues to mystify archaeologists is the baray, or water reservoir, built in a grand scale around Angkor: for example, the West Baray is a mind-boggling 8 km by 2.3 km in size. While it has long been assumed that they were used for irrigation, some historians argue that their primary function was political or religious. Today, the moat around Angkor and the West Baray still contains water, but the rest have dried up.
MotifsAs you tour the temples, you will see certain mythical figures and other motifs cropping up repeatedly.
ClimateAngkor is hot and sticky throughout the year, but the peak season is November to February, when the weather is dry and temperatures are coolest (25-30°C). The flip side is that the temples are packed, especially around Christmas/New Year’s, and hotel rates are at their highest. March to May is brutally hot, with temperatures reaching 40°C. June to October is the rainy season, and outlying temples and the roads leading to them can turn into quagmires of mud. However, this is also when the temples are at their quietest, and it’s still often possible to do a good half-day round of sightseeing before the rains start in the afternoon.
Get inAngkor is located about 20 minutes to the north, by car or motorbike, from central Siem Reap. See the Siem Reap article for details on getting there.
Get aroundTour buses feature guided, air-conditioned comfort but also are subject to large crowds and lack of options. Be sure you know which temples are being visited as some of the larger buses only go to the 2 or 3 main tourist attractions, and leave out important “secondary” sights. The cost is ~US$25-$70/day including driver and guide.
Cars with drivers can be hired for single or multiple days. While all drivers are familiar with the area and happy to suggest good routes, most speak little English and are not actual tour guides. For an actual licensed tour guide, the charge varies from US$45 per day to US$50 for a driver and English speaking guide. It is customary for the drivers to ask for US$5-US$10 extra for trips to further temples such as the those of the Big Circuit, Banteay Srey and more for remote sites like Beng Mealea.
Circa January 2011, the taxi rides purchased from the airport booth to downtown Siem Reap ($7 fixed price) include fliers advertising cars & drivers for Angkor Wat at $30/day. In one experience: The youngish driver from the airport offered to do the same for $25 + free water, and followed through admirably.
Motorbikes (with drivers) can be arranged through any guesthouse for about US$6-$8/day. Again, drivers might ask for more to visit remote ruins. Some drivers can speak a bit of English, and can give you information about Angkor and Cambodian life. Drivers are required to be licensed and must wear their gray numbered vest while traveling within the confines of the Angkor park. The rental of motorbikes without a driver to foreigners in Siem Reap is prohibited; however foreigners can ride motorbikes they’ve rented elsewhere (e.g., Phnom Penh).
Tuk tuks can be arranged through guesthouses, offering space for one or two travelers. Figure on US$12 for the main Angkor temples, and more for outlying temples. Like the motorbike drivers, they must be licensed, may speak some English, and must wear gray numbered vests while traveling within the park.
Bicycles are another option, though you will spend more time getting from place to place and will have a limited range. They are probably best for visitors planning on returning for several days. Bring sun screen, a good hat, lot of water and a scarf to keep the sun off your neck. The rental is around US$1 per day for a decent bicycle, and quality does vary so check around. As of 2006, there is also an electrical bicycle renting agency near the road to the Angkor. The battery can be exchanged free of charge at several places inside the Angkor. [2008-11-08 update: the electrical bike rental service doesn't seem to be operating anymore]
Horse carriages and even elephants are also available within the park, but only from specific points. For example, elephants travel the route between Bayon and the nearest gate of Angkor Thom.
Electric cars will take you to certain areas for a round-trip price of only $2. They can be found in front of Angkor Wat and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Helicopter flights are another way of seeing Angkor Archaeological Park. You can also visit outlying temples like Banteay Chhmar, Boeng Mealea, Koh Ker, Rolous Group, Phnom Bok & Tonle Sap floating village. Sokha Helicopters  have prices starting from US$110 per person for the basic Angkor Wat, Prasart Kravan, Bat Chum, Sras Srang, Pre Rup, Eastern Mebon & Ta Som 12 minutes tour. Flights depart daily next to the Sokha Yellow Balloon on the road from Siem Reap International Airport to Angkor Wat main entrance. Bookings essential and can be made through hotels or travel/tour agents or direct on
SeePasses are required to enter the Angkor area. They are on sale at the front gate for 1-day ($20), 3-day ($40), or 7-day ($60) intervals. The 3-day pass is valid for any 3 days within a week, while the 7-day pass is valid for any 7 days within a month. If you plan on using your 3 or 7 day pass on non consecutive days, make sure to get the newer version, otherwise you may be given an old one that must be used immediately. Cambodians can enter for free — you shouldn’t need to buy a pass for your guide or your driver. If you buy a pass in the evening, you can enter the park after 5PM to view the sunset without it counting as use of a day on your pass. The passes are non-transferable. You will have a photograph taken and printed on your pass to make sure they are non-transferable. Regular checks for the pass are performed at almost all sites within the park, so carry your pass with you at all times, and be certain to buy the passes only from the official Apsara Authority counters, not from other vendors, and definitely not second-hand.
Guides can be hired for about US$20 a day and are available for most major languages. Hiring a guide for at least the first day can help you get orientated to the temples and are particularly useful for finding and explaining the bas-reliefs, which can otherwise be rather overwhelming and/or difficult to understand.
“Ancient Angkor”, the guidebook that is hawked at every temple, is surprisingly good. Particularly if you are interested in the carvings on the walls and towers, the book will keep you occupied for hours. If you don’t want to pay money to hear a local tell you about the temples in broken English this is a good option.
Be sure and get to the temples early. You can enter the park beginning at 5AM; the temples open at sunrise. There are fewer visitors early in the morning, and the sun isn’t at full force. Arriving at the temples at 8AM instead of 9AM can make all the difference in staying one step ahead of the crowds.
The temples can broadly be categorized into four groups:
- Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, the grandest temple of all and the ancient capital next to it
- Little Circuit (Le Petit Circuit), taking in major sites to the east of Angkor Thom
- Big Circuit (Le Grand Circuit), taking in major sites north and further out east
- Roluos group, 15 km east from Siem Reap along National Highway 6
- Outlying temples, located over 20 km from Angkor Wat
HistoryLocated six kilometers north of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is one of the largest of Khmer monuments. Built around the first half of 12th century by King Suryavarman II, the temple’s balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest monuments in the world.
Though ‘Wat’ is the Khmer (Cambodian) word for temple, the westward orientation of the structure is atypical of temples. Scholars believe that the architecture and sculptures are that of a temple where Lord Vishnu was worshipped but it was also built as a mausoleum for the king after his death.
How to exploreThe size of the monuments makes it look overwhelming when one encounters it for the first time. The following is one of the suggested plan to explore Angkor Wat. Enter through the west entrance. When you reach the entry tower, walk to the right to get a glimpse of all the five towering gopuras.
Passing the tower and the libraries on both sides of the walkway, climb down the steps towards the left side and get to the water basin. You can catch a glimpse of the temple and its reflection in the water. Go past the basin and reach the left end of the temple.
You would by now have reached the starting point of the famous bas reliefs depicting scenes from various mythological stories and historic events. Walking from left to right you will come across scenes from battle of Ramayana, battle of Mahabharata, army of Suryavarman II, scenes from judgement by Yama (the supreme judge), churning of ocean by demons and gods to get Amrita — the nectar of immortality, Vishnu’s victory over demons, victory of Krishna over Bana and other scenes of battle between gods and demons.
Climb the steps to reach the second tier. One can reach the third tier and the central courtyard within by climbing the steps oriented towards any of the four cardinal points. However, it is suggested that the steps on the south (right) be taken, as these have now been fitted with a handrail — particularly useful when descending.
When to visitThe sight of the grand monument towering over the landscape is breath-taking at any time of day. However, to maximise the effect it is suggested that the first trip to Angkor Wat be made in optimal lighting conditions, usually around 1~2PM. Sunrise at Angkor Wat is a also great sight to witness. Hence most of the tourists tend to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, then explore other ruins in the morning and then return to Angkor Wat later in the afternoon. The sun rises behind Angkor Wat and the best colors are seen just before the sun climbs into view. As the position of the sun as it rises varies according to the time of year, do position yourself accordingly. For example, in November-December time when you are facing Angkor Wat, the sun rises on your right hand side. Hence grab a place to the extreme left of the entry tower to see the sunrise. Sunset at Angkor Wat is best viewed either on the top tier or outside the main temple structur
Sri Siva Subramaniya temple, Fiji Islands
The Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is a Hindu temple in Nadi, Fiji. It is at the southern end of the main road through Nadi. It is the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere
Historical backgroundThe original temple had been in existence for a long time. It was at the old temple building that the Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam (TISI Sangam) was formed in 1926. The TISI Sangam was rejuvenated following the Golden Jubilee celebration in 1976. The revival of Sangam activities together with the arrival of Shivacharya Mahalinga Gurukkal, whose services were made available to Nadi Siva Subramaniya Temple in 1984 by the Government of Tamil Nadu as the Chief Priest boosted the activities at the Temple, and devotees flocked to the Temple in very large numbers to witness and participate in the many new and unique religious ceremonies conducted at the Temple for the first time.
Construction of new templeThe foundation for a new temple had been laid at the old site in 1976 during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations by His Excellency the High Commissioner for the Government of India in Fiji. It was realised that a new and bigger National Temple was needed, and in 1983 new lease was acquired for the Crown land and the reconstruction programme began with the Bhoomi Pooja in January 1984, followed by the inauguration of building work by the late Deputy Prime Minister, in April 1984. The construction work moved another step forward in 1986 when the work of pile driving was completed under the chairmanship of Hon. Jai Ram Reddy. The actual Construction work began in earnest after a lull of some five years under a new Reconstruction Committee led by Narayan Reddy as the Chairman. The temple was built in the best traditions of ancient Dravidian Indian Temple architecture as well as the principles of sacred architecture of the Vastu Vedic tradition. The consecration ceremonies of their new national temple were held on July 15, 1994
Mariamman Temple, Bangkok
Located at the corner of Pan Road and Silom Road (ถนนสีลม), near the Hotel Narai, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman and it is one of the main non-Buddhist places of worship in the city. Besides this important Tamil deity the temple also houses the statues of other Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
There are flower stalls close to the temple, selling flowers and flower garlands for ceremonies. This temple is an important spiritual landmark for the local Tamil Hindu community, as well as for many Thai people. Numerous visitors come daily to the temple compound for worship, as well as to take a closer look at the rituals. Religious festivals, such as Navratri, take place periodically in this temple following the traditional Tamil calendar
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )