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Mecca – The Paradise of Islam

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If we talk about sacred pilgrimages, two places in the world are the most famous –The north-eastern group of cities in India (Haridwar, Varanasi and so on) for Hindus and Mecca in the middle-east, for the Islamic. Mecca is center of pilgrimage for the followers of Islam and is also the place where Prophet Muhammad was born. Mecca lies in the mountainous region of central Saudi Arabia. The legends say that Adam and Eve had wandered for 200 years after they fell from Paradise onto the earth. They were then made to unite on Mt. Arafat, where the present day Mecca is situated. Adam built a similar shrine as the one in Paradise. After many generations, Abraham received instructions from God and he along with Ishmael (his son) rebuilds the shrine. Following them, Abraham was able to reveal perfect location of the Archangel Gabriel, and the holy Ka’ba was built using the stones from the five sacred mountains. When the shrine was completed, Gabriel brought a magic stone to the sanctuary. With time, the rituals of Abraham were combined with various pagan rituals. The pre-Islamic pilgrims visited the house of Abraham and the stone of Gabriel, along with many stone idols of Mary and Jesus and many others. The most significant of all the deities were that of Allah, which is the Arabic word for God, and later he became the solitary God for the Muslims.
Great Mosque of Mecca
During the time of Prophet Muhammad, from 570 to 632 AD the holy city of Mecca reached its major religious significance. Muhammad took Mecca under his control in 630 and destroyed the pagan idols, except those of Mary and Jesus. The Hajj Pilgrimage to Mt. Arafat was joined with the different rituals of Mecca, and the Ka’ba was declared as the most important place of the Muslim. The Ka’ba, the Zamzamwe and the sacred hills of Safa and Marwa are located within the vast structure called Haram al-Sharif, which means ‘The Noble Sanctuary’. There are seven very tall minarets and 64 gates that form the outer shell of this colossal building. At a time more that 1.2 millions of holy pilgrims can be inside the holy structure and is the largest mosque in the world. The word Ka’ba means cube, and, thus, this sacred place is cubically built and the roof is flat. It is raised to fifty feet, with corners oriented towards the compass points. The walls to the east and west are aligned to sunrise at summer solstice and sunset at the winter solstice. Though the surrounding structures of Ka’ba have gone through tremendous reconstructions and changes since the 7th century, Ka’ba still remains as it was when Muhammad existed.

All followers of Islam (male or female) are required to do the Hajj pilgrimage and one of the five pillars of Islam. The pilgrimage takes from 8th to 13th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islam’s lunar calendar, every year. The main aim behind making the Islamic attend Hajj every year is one measure to unify Muslims from all over the world, and currently Mecca has succeeded in gathering about twenty lakhs of people every year. Located in the south-east corner of Ka’ba is the sacred stone, which is kissed by the pilgrims, after they take seven rounds in counter-clock direction around the Ka’ba, in the mosque. The pilgrims also visit other places in the vicinity of Mecca, which include Muzdalifah, Mt. Arafat and Mina and then go back to the sacred Ka’ba.

The Muslims kneel down to pray to their God, five times in a day and they face towards the direction of the Mecca. Thus, an invisible bond, called qibla, is said to form between the devotees and Mecca, and so Muslims are said to, virtually, visit Mecca, five times a day. In fact, all the mosques in the world are supposed to be built with their entrances facing Mecca. One can find pictures and paintings of the holy Ka’ba, depicting various ways and modes of traveling to Mecca around the world. Often, these are pictures of a pilgrim praying on a holy carpet inside the Ka’ba. Mecca is also regarded as the magnet of explorers.

Visiting Angkor-Ta-Prohm in its Spectacular Original Setting

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Ta-Prohm (ancestor Brahma) refers to temple at Angkor in Cambodia built mostly in the 12th and 13th centuries. Initially named as the Raja Vihara (Monastery of the King) built in the Bayon style, the sacred Buddhist temple is just at a km east of Angkor Thom. The temple was discovered by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII and dedicated it to his mother. What makes this temple unique from the Angkorian temples is that Angkor-Ta-Prohm is still in the same state in which it was ascertained. Further, the camera-friendly trees emerging around the ruins and the forest setting allure thousands of visitors annually.
Ta Prohm Temple
The stele at the Angkor-Ta-Prohm says that the place was once inhabited by over 12,500 people that included 18 high priests and 615 dancers along with extra 80,000 folks in the nearby settlements employed for services. Further, according to the steel, the temple also hold reasonable amount of riches – gold, pearls, and silks.

Design
Angkor-Ta-Prohm is a typically flat Khmer temple with five rectangular walls enclosing a central sanctuary. Its typical feature is that it is slanting to the east to hold up the temple proper to the west along an east-west axis. Its external wall surrounds a huge area that once could be the settlement area, but is today wooded. Entrance gopuram at each prime point are worth noting even though one can access the temple only from the east and west. Face towers were a later addition to the gopurams in the 13th century. However, some have crumbled today.

Total 39 towers at the temple today are linked with several galleries. In the temple proper, the three internal enclosures hold galleries wherein the first enclosure’s corner towers make a quincunx with the middle sanctuary tower. Among all the monuments here, the most remarkable ones are the libraries in the first and third enclosures in their southeast sides, the satellite temples in the third enclosure at its north and south, the Hall of Dancers stuck amid the third and fourth east gopuras, and a House of Fire in the fourth eastern gopuram.

Bas-reliefs
Today, the temple boasts only a handful of informative bas-reliefs. One reason for this could be that most Buddhist artwork might have been damaged after the death of Jayavarman VII by the Hindu icons. Among the leftovers, scenes of Buddhist mythology can be seen even today. A famous bas-relief here exemplifies the Great Departure of Siddhartha from his father’s palace, who then achieved enlightenment to be called as Buddha. Currently, you can also visit stone reliefs of devatas (female deities), contemplating ascetics, and dvarapalas, the guardians of the temple.

Alluring Trees
The growing trees from and around the ruins is something unique to the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm and captivating to the tourists. Among them, two species are in majority, the bigger is the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) or thitpok Tetrameles nudiflora. On the other hand, the smaller is the strangler fig (Ficus Gibbosa) or Gold Apple (Diospyros Decandra).

The temple is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park that has its entrance fees as $20 for one day, $40 for three days, and $60 for a week.

Lake Manasarovar is the Provider of Salvation

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Located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China at the base of the holy Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, called Mapam Yumco in Tibet, is among the highest freshwater lake on the planet. Regarded as the most sacred lake in Asia, the lake is worshipped by three main sects namely, Hindus, Buddhists, Tibetan Bonpo, and Jains for its legendary stories. Being almost round in shape and as deep as 90 m, the lake is connected with its neighboring lake via a natural Ganga Chhu Channel. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra will introduce you to the lake’s beauty which can be seen in its twin colour waters – from a clear blue on the shores to a deep emerald green in the centre, which is more captivating if seen in moonlight.
Lake Manasarovar
The Mansarovar Lake is the origin of the eastern and large tributary of the River Indus named River Sutlej. Further, close to the lake are also the mouths of the river Brahmaputra, Indus, and Karnali (Ghaghara) – a vital tributary of the Ganges. This also has added to the holiness and purity of the lake and its surrounding regions. Above all, Mount Kailash is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and his divine consort Mata Parvati on Earth.

Hindu Legend and Beliefs

According to the Hindu Mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe and lake too, first formed the lake in his own mind, thus giving the Sanskrit name where Manas means mind and Sarovar means lake. Lord Brahma created this lake to ensure a proper place for religious ceremonies and more merit for his 12 sons who were holy men and observed rituals and asceticism here on the dry land.

A popular belief holds for Hindus that a walk around trip of Mount Kailash and a dip in the cold Lake Manasarovar destroys one’s sins from many lifetimes and consequently brings salvation from the phases of birth and death. Other faith is that the heavenly Gods (Devas) come down from their celestial abodes to bathe in the lake every day in the early morning between 3 and 5 am – called the Brahma Muhurta.

The lake is also believed to be the summer residence of the sacred birds, swans that symbolize wisdom and beauty. Some other beliefs are that the Lake Mansarovar is the home of purity that once touched will lead the soul to heaven and that if you drink its water, you will be in the heaven of Lord Shiva after death.

Buddhist Significance

For Buddhists, the lake is linked with the Lake Anotatta in Pali and Anavatapta Lake in Sanskrit where Queen Maya had mystically seen Lord Buddha. According to the legend, the celestial gods brought Buddha’s mother here where she bathed in the holy waters of Mansarovar to purify her body. It was here that Lord Buddha entered her womb when after bathing; she saw a white elephant coming to her from Mount Kailash.

In the past, there were eight monasteries on the shores made so to represent the Wheel of Life. By walking around the lake on pilgrimage, devotees used to visit each of the monasteries to form a part of the turn of the wheel. Today, many are not seen and what is present is the most remarkable surviving Chiu Gompa Monastery on the steep hill.

Pilgrimage
The spiritual journey is 64 miles around the lake that takes four days. So, if you desire to take up that fruitful deed, pitch a tent by the lake and complete the trip.

Beaches in Goa – Worldwide Spectacular Holiday Highlights

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Considered as one of the most finest and breathtaking beaches, beaches in God had made the city, the ultimate heaven for holiday travelers on the west coast of India. The 100 km coastline of Goa is the home of innumerable palm-canopied beaches offering sun soaked sands bathed by serene waters, cool breeze, serene environs, and carnival celebrations. Being one of the tourism augmentation aspects in Goa, beaches attract not only native people and regular tourists, but also people across the globe.

The first beach where you must stop while starting to have fun beaches in Goa is the Anjuna beach popular for flea market and glowing parties. Next, in the line, are the Baga and Dona Paula beaches followed by more memorable ones. To ensure that you miss none of them, the beaches are categorized as per their directions and characteristics, beaches in North and the beaches in South. The north beaches are comparatively famous and crowded with several parties and carnivals. On the other hand, the beaches of south Goa are for the people who want to achieve peace of mind in solitude as these offer comparatively quiet environs.

North Goa Beaches
Covering a distance of 30 kilometers, the beaches are the sites for recreation activities, engaging parties, frolicking carnivals, and exploring sports adventures. Listed are these beaches.

  • Arambol
  • Morjim
  • Chapora
  • Vagator
  • Anjuna
  • Baga
  • Calangute
  • Candolim
  • Sinquerim
  • Bambolim
  • Miramar
  • Dona Paula
  • Aguada

Let’s look at the most famous ones among these beaches.

01. Anjuna Beach

Anjuna Beach
Famous for its bright painted palm trees and full moon parties, Anjuna was also the favorite of the Hippies who brought in the combination of eastern traditions with western art and music. Located at 8 km west of Mapusa, right from 70’s, what attracts people here is the flea market and lying on the sands and enjoying the tropical fruit. The preferred time to visit this beach is early November. Listed below are the main attractions here.

Flea Market
On each Wednesday at 11 in the morning, the flea market is opened to you for shopping Tibetan, Kashmiri, and Gujarati ornaments, handicrafts, artificial jewelry, antiques, and T-shirts.

Adventurous Water Sports
Swimming, parasailing, windsurfing, and Yachting are popular.

The Albuquerque Mansion
Built in 1920, it is an architectural splendor hosting octagonal towers and the tiled roof in Mangalore style.

The Mascarenhas Mansion
This historical structure is famous for its balconies and the fine floral glass designs.

The Chapora Fort
This citadel is erected by Adil Shah and named after the nearby Chapora River.

02. Baga Beach

Baga Beach
A relatively scenic beach among the other beaches and as an extension of Calangute beach, this beach is for those who would like to be in isolation and watch the sunset. Situated at a distance of 10 km west of Mapusa, it is situated between the Calangute and Anjuna beaches. However, even the locals cannot say where one ends and where another starts, making it difficult to draw line of distinction among them.

A gift for beach lovers, the Baga beach starts from Fort Aguada, spreads ahead known as the Sinquerim beach and then at some distance called the Candolim Beach, and merges into the Calangute beach after which it is known as the Baga beach. After this junction, the beach heads as Anjuna Beach and Vagator Beach, this lastly culminates at the Chapora Beach and Fort. The noticeable thing here is that the sand is neither white nor gold, but it is brown. A major attraction here is the Baga Beach Market.

Baga Beach Market
Hosted at the evening of Saturdays, you can shop and bargain strongly for many goods such as groceries, textiles, earthenware, household articles, bric-a-brac, toys, ornaments, and jewelries. The presence of regular live bands creates turns the busy environment into a festive one.

03. Calangute Beach

Calangute Beach
Entitled with ‘Queen of Beaches’ of Goa, this beach is just a 45 minute ride from Panjim by bus. It is the Goa’s most commercialized resort. The name of the beach is actually distorted from the word of local language called ‘Koli-gutti’ meaning the land of fishermen. In addition, some local people believe it to be related with Kalyan Gutti (village of art) or Konvallo-ghott (strong pit of the coconut tree), as the Calangute town is an abode of infinite coconut trees. A popular belief holds that the Portuguese must have interpreted the current name. Around ’60s and early ’70s, hippies founded this place of peaceful sands, immaculate surroundings, and idyllic tranquility. Then, they spread about this discovery that resulted in flocks of European tourists.

Goans and visitors come to chill themselves in hot summers by bathing in the quiet sea, sun, and sand. Playing families, excited children making sand castles, vibrant throng rolling into the sea, hippies recalling the good past events, and people relaxing on the golden sands are some of the common scenes here. Adding to its charm are the sheds and stalls under the canopies of palm trees selling items right from food to shell trinkets.

Forming a green arc, the villages of Arpora-Nagoa, Saligao, and Candolim also contribute to the splendor of Calangute. Other attractions are scenic Argos meaning saltpans at Agarvaddo, coconut trees at Madda vaddo, green hillock at Dongorpur.

04. Dona Paula Beach

Dona Paula Beach
A confluence of the two famous rivers Zuari and Mandovi entering the Arabian Sea along with a good view of the Marmagao Harbor, this beautiful and popular beach is at 7 km from Panjim. It lies on the south of the stony and hammer-shaped peninsula. An ex-fishing town and now a commercialized resort, the beach is a tranquil site to lighten up and get a tan under the bright sun.

A historic tragic story is connected with this beach, according to which the beach is named. The viceroy’s daughter, Dona Paula de Menzes, performed suicide here, as she could not marry to her love, a native fisherman. This story and the beautiful surroundings with hanging palm trees attracts maximum tourist at this beach and in Goa. Other attractions are listed below.

Cruise Ride
Cruises on the two famous rivers are popular among the visitors.

National Oceanography Institute
This houses some of the good artifacts related with marine life and oceanography. The marine biology museum and the Taxonomy Reference centers are the interesting corners of this institute.

Raj Bhavan
This is the residence of the governor of Goa that offers a splendid view of the Aguada fort and the coastline.

Cabo Chapel
This is the house of the tomb of Dona Paula de Menzes.

More Beaches
This includes the nearby Miramar and Vainguinim beaches.

Reis Magos Church and the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Both of them are close by.

Sporting Adventures
This includes water skiing, Para-sailing, windsurfing; snorkeling, yachting, water scootering, and motor boating. An annual water sports festival takes place here in November.

Shopping
Fans of shopping can check out for garments and handicraft items.

05. Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach
This beach is on the route to Dona Paula and 3 km from Panjim. It is actually 1 km forward from the meeting of the Arabian Sea and Mondovi River.

06. Candolim Beach

Candolim Beach
Relatively calm beach facing the Arabian Sea, the Candolim beach is simply for the nature lovers and holidaymakers due to its tranquil environs. Situated about 15 km from Panjim, other beaches that accompany are Senquirim, Calangute, and Baga. It has good arrangements of staying, which makes it the first choice of visitors among other beaches. Listed below are the attractions at this beach.

The Aguada Fort
Built in 1612 by the Portuguese and later abandoned, it is a famous shooting site for movies.

Quincy Corner
Famous for its musical theme as that of the Caribbean islands and encompassing groves of palm and coconut, this site is to enjoy the food and the music in front of the sea.

Activities
These include Parasailing, water skiing, and boating, Yoga, and meditation sessions.

07. Vagator Beach

Vagator Beach
A few kilometers of cliff tops and grassland is the distance between the Anjuna and its close by neighbor at south, Vagator. Located at 24 km from Panaji, the beach is on the north of the Bardez taluka. Offering smooth white sands and coconut palms, the Vagator beach is the hot favorite relaxing destination. Surrounded by a calm rural area, there are no big shopping sites here. Listed below are the attractions here.

Beaches
These include a chain of beaches namely, Chapora, Anjuna, Baga, and Calangute beaches.

Chapora Fort
500 years old, this fort is a good site to view the adjoining coast and distant hills.

Vagator Springs
One is at the hill foot to the north of the Vagator beach and the other is in Ozrant that is called Zor by the local people.

Chapora Village
This is the right place to know the local life.

Activities
Safer swimming and shopping souvenirs and garments are famous.

08. Aguada Beach

Aguada Beach
Besides from the serene view of swaying palms, sun, sand, and sea, this beach is famous for its 16th century Portuguese citadel, Fort Aguada. This fort is the spot from where you can have splendid views of the never-ending sea and beaches that spread until the borders of the Maharashtra state. Built as the tower of defense to block the enemies from entering into the River Mandovi, the fort hosts a circular lighthouse tower built in 1864 on which you can view the Cabo Raj Niwas. Further, the beach is also famous for its marvelous nearby churches.

09. Arambol Beach

Arambol Beach
Situated at 50 km north of Panaji, the beach extends along with golden sands and rocky cliffs. Hosting two beaches, the popular one is the Harmal beach that is the northernmost beach and the second is the scenic one encompassing steep cliffs on its sides and approachable on foot. This beach is crowded only on Sundays when local people come for a picnic here. Listed below are the attractions here.

Hot Spring
This is near to the main beach meeting a freshwater lake. It is famous as the deposit formed on the lakeshore posses medicinal properties.

Shopping
This is a good site for shopping enthusiastic as there are many shops selling clothes, jewelry, and handicrafts from all states of India.

Food
You can explore the mouth-watering Italian, Goan, and Indian dishes.

Activities
A few stunning calm bays and fresh water pools to the north of the beach are good sites of swimming. In addition, other thrilling activities include paragliding, Dolphin watching boat trips, and cruise rides to the close Anjuna beach.

South Goa Beaches
Listed below are the beaches in South Goa.

  • Agonda
  • Bogmalo
  • Majorda
  • Colva
  • Benaulim
  • Varca
  • Cavelossim
  • Mobor
  • Canaguinim
  • Palolem
  • Agonda Beach

Covering a coastline of 3 km accompanied by white sands, towering palm trees, casuarinas, and a large hill in the south, the Agonda beach is at 37 km from the Margao town. Coming after the Palolem beach on the way towards Panaji, it is among the scenic sites although isolated from the busy nearby towns. It is precisely this geographical location that makes the site a perfect holiday destination for nature lovers and for those who are seeking peace of mind. Comparatively low visitors are found here and so there are not many facilities here including stalls. However, the most enjoyable time for you can be just hiring a tent for camping in front of the roaring sea waves.

A major attraction near this beach is the fort of Cabo de Rama, which is the isolated citadel named after Lord Ram, who is the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. According to the legend, Lord Ram and his divine consort, Devi Sita stayed here during their 12-year exile period.

10. Bogmalo Beach

Bogmalo Beach
Located in the northern part of Colva bay and at 18 km from the Dabolim airport and 8 km from Vasco da Gama, this is one of the most appealing beaches in North Goa. Exhibiting cleanliness and apparently not congested with people, the beach is a small-scale resort offering both tranquilness and commercialism. This beach is safe for swimming as the water near the coast is not too deep. The beach also offers quite good eating restaurants and shopping options. Listed below are the attractions here.

The Naval Aviation Museum
This museum offers detailed information about the Indian Navy along with the exhibition of varied weapons, artilleries, and other related stuff.

Activities
These include parasailing, spotting dolphins and sea turtles regularly, and above all – diving. Recently, diving schools have been established in this region.

11. Colva Beach

Colva Beach, Goa
This is among the most famous sites of all tourists attractions in Goa. Holding the credit of the largest beach in south Goa at 6 km from Margao and 39 km from Panjim, the beach covers 25 km of the coastline. The beach is further naturally adorned with the lined coconut palms swaying in front of the calm Arabian Sea. Listed below are the attractions here.

More Beaches
These include Benaulim, Majorda, Betalbatim, Betul, Canaguinim, Agonda, Palolem, Rajbhag, and Polem can that are all accessible from this single spot through walk or other means.

Baby Jesus Statue
The ‘Menino Jesus’ statue in the local church is worth seeing.

Religious Places
These include nearby Shree Damodar Temple, Chandranath Temple, Shree Navdurga Temple, Shantadurga Temple, Jama Masjid at Sanguem, the Cabo de Rama, and the Buddhist caves at Rivona.

Fairs and Festivals
The Beach Bonanza fair is a lively occasion on Sundays in mid April that offers music, dance, and other displays. The festival named ‘Fama of Menino Jesus’ is another major attraction held on the third Monday of October.

Bullfights
These are held close to the Benaulim beach from October to May.

Towns
Margao is a must visit city as it holds a few old, beautiful churches and temples.

Activities
These include kayaking, speed boating, water scootering, and sailing.

12. Benaulim Beach

Benaulim Beach
Situated at 7 km west of Margao after the Colva beach and named by the Portuguese, the Benaulim beach is quite calm as compared to Colva. Due to absence of jellyfish, the beach is safe for swimming. The beach becomes crowded only in the evenings and on weekends mainly due to its spectacular view of sunset and you can see hawkers, masseurs, and fruit sellers. Listed below are the attractions here.

Churches
The Church of St. John, the Baptist is worth visiting atop a hill beyond the Benaulim village. The feast of St. John the Baptist (Sao Joao) celebrated in monsoons is the famous attraction of this church.

Bullfights
This is held from early October to late May.

Beach Bonanza Fair
This is held on Sundays from mid-April on the beach.

13. Cavelossim Beach

Cavelossim Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches in Goa, the Cavelossim beach is 11 km south of Colva. It is the perfect site for scenic lovers as the beach is accompanied by the stunning paddy fields, the Sal River, and the golden dunes. Listed below are the attractions here.

Beaches
These include mobor (a must to visit), varca, colva, and majorda.

Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China

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Buddhism is a very popular religion in China and is very widespread. It has a very ancient history which goes back to 2000 years. As per the geographical areas and Chinese languages, the Buddhist here can be divided into Han Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. Han Buddhism is found in the Han group, the Tibetan Buddhism in the Tibetan region and in Ganaur, Qinghai and Mongolia, and other communities of Tibet. Theravada Buddhism is found in the minority of Dai in the Yunnan province.
Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China
Han Buddhism has Mt. Emei, Mt. Wutai, Mt. Jiuhua and Mt. Pluto as the Four Sacred Mountains. Legend has it that these four mountains are the enlightenment locales of the Bodhisattvas Wenshu, Guanyin, Puxian and Dizang. These four sacred Buddhist Mountains are very popular for their libraries storing Buddhist books, cultural antiques and the other forms of scenic beauty and Buddhist architectures.

Mt. Wutai is located in the Shanxi Province of the County of Wutai and is one of the five major Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the entire world. The other four Buddhist pilgrim spots are Kushinagar in India, Lumbini in Nepal, Bodhgaya and Mrgadava in India again. Wutai is a place that is especially dedicated to the Bodhisattva of wisdom which is called Wenshu in Chinese. It was around 67AD that Mount Wutai became very popular. Today it has more than 50 temples and the most popular ones here are the Tayuan temple, Xiantong temple, Foguang temple and Pusading temple.

The Xiantong Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples and is the first destination for all pilgrims who come to this part of the world. The Sarira Stupa, the great White Pagoda, the Tayuan Temple are all major landmarks here in this part of Mt. Wutai. Bodhisattva summit is the most important and also the largest temple of Tibetan Buddhism on the Mt. Wutai.

Mt. Emei is another of the sacred Buddhist Mountains in China and is located around 160 kilometers to the south-western part of Chengdu in the province of Sichuan. In the year 1996, Mt. Emei was declared a UNESCO World Heritage and Cultural Heritage Site. Along with this, the Leshan Giant Buddha which is supposed to be the largest stone carved Buddha structure in the world was also declared a Heritage structure. The construction of such temples of Buddhism in this region began in the 2nd century and then by 15th century it had reached its zenith. There are around 30 temples here today on the Mt. Emei and this is inclusive of the popular Wannian and the Baoguo temples.

The Baoguo Temple is today the best maintained and also the most ancient temple in the Mt. Emei. It has two famous treasures of a bronze bell and a Buddhist statue. The Buddhist statue is around 2.4 metres tall and the bronze bell is around 2.3 meters tall and weighs 25 tons. This is in fact one of the most important temples in Mt. Emei and was constructed in 420. The temple has witnessed and withstood 18 earthquakes in a span of 4 centuries. The Golden Summit of Emei is very famous here lying around 3,079 meters above the sea level. It has all the best features of an ideal mountain and has a sea of clouds and also sacred lamps and an auspicious halo.

Then there is Mt Putuo which is another fascinating temple in the Zhoushan Islands. It is around 100 nautical miles to the east of Hangzhou Bay in the province of Zhejiang. There are three important temples on Puto. One is the Huiji then the Fayu and then Puji. The Puji temple has a very ancient structure the Yuan Dynasty Duabao which is also called Abundant Treasures Pagoda. There is a stone stele in the Fayu Temple from the rule of Wanli in the Ming Dynasty. It has a Bodhisattva image carved and shows a Bodhisattva Guanyin holding a willow twig in her hand. The temple also has the Nine Dragon Hall which is an exact image of the predecessor of the Ming Imperial palace in Nanjing. There is a ceiling which has beautifully carved nine dragons and they reveal the true workmanship of the ancient kind of ornamental architecture.

Then there is Mt. Jiuhua another Buddhist mountain which is situated in the city of Chenzhou in the southern part of the River Yangtze in the province of Anhui. Mt. Jiuhua has more than 70 peaks and half of these peaks are seen rising over a height of around 1000 metres. The highest is around 1342 metres. It has lovely waterfalls, magnificent valleys and fascinating streams. The mountain is shaped like a lotus and is famous for the scenic beauty. Huacheng temple is the most important temple here on and this is a structure that was built in the Jin dynasty. The Baisui Palace is found here a little to the east of Jiuhua Street. Built on a very steep cliff in the local patterns, this is a temple that is worth seeing on tours to China. Then you have the Zhiyuan temple which is a lovely maze of palatial roofs and steep cliffs. The very majestic Dongya temple is found here and today has the Anhui province Buddhism Seminary.

Thus temple pleasures are enthralling in the beautiful land of China so come and visit these Buddhist temples which have been here since ages.

Cambodia Buddhism

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Come to the land of culture, tradition and Buddhist principles. Come to the kingdom of Cambodia. This is one land which will surely give you all the pleasures of being in a land of the most fascinating Buddhist experiences. If you want to explore the Buddhist sites in the reign of Cambodia then surely it is not a chance that you should miss. So go ahead and enjoy this land of Cambodian pleasures and enhance your Buddhist knowledge here in the Cambodian kingdom.
Buddhism in Cambodia
Buddhism here in Cambodia goes back to the time of King Rudravarman who ruled here sometime in the 5thcentury. He was the king of the Funan dynasty. Funan was the first state which represented the Cambodian state. It is said that King Rudravarman is said that to have claimed that his ancestors had a long hair relic of Lord Buddha which they worship. During the time of the 5thand 6th century, there was two languages that developed in the region of Funan. These were the Sanskrit and Theravada and there was yet another language which developed in the 7th century and that was the Pali language.

The Mahayana form of Buddhism got established here during the time Jayavarman VII ruled the Angkor Empire. Jayavarman was a great follower of Buddhism and believed totally in the Buddhist way of life. There are records which show that there were around 798 temples here as also some 102 hospitals during the time Jayavarman ruled here. Most of them got support from King Jayavarman thus making him a great and successful king. Thus King Jayavarman got the title of Mahaparamsaugata after he died.

When King Jayavarman passed away, Mahayana Buddhism was not very popular and then is when the Theravada Buddhism came up. Then the French influence took over sometime in the 19th and the 20th century. This caused a major setback for the growth of Buddhism here. But once Cambodia got liberated Buddhism came back into prominence and became famous.

Thus while on Cambodian travels, there is a lot of Theravada Buddhism influence that is seen here. Cambodia thus permits Theravada monks to thrive here and so we have countries like Laos, Thailand, Burma and also Sri Lanka, to intermingle with the Theravada Buddhist monks coming from here.

Thus Buddhism in Cambodia started getting popular on a national basis as per the requirements of the 1943 and 1948. The clergies of Cambodia have two kinds of monastic orders. These are the Thommayut order and the Mohanikay order. The first order or the Thommayut order came to Cambodia in the year 1864. This became very popular because the royal family supported it and it thus remained in the Phnom Penh region. Then the Mohanikay order is today the larger Buddhist group which comprises of around 90% of the clergy.

Both these Buddhist orders have a hierarchical structure composed of eleven levels. Seven levels from the lower stage are called the Thanakam and the remaining four levels are called the rajagana. In the rajagana we would find around 35 monks belonging to the Mohanikay order. The Thammayut has only 21 such monks. Each monk is needed to serve for a period of around twenty years.

Wat is a spiritual centre in Cambodia which denotes a Buddhist spiritual place. What is normally surrounded by walls and has a residence for bonzes, a sanctuary and also a kitchen and hall. There are quarters for nuns and also a pond. The war has a main entry point that faces east and is used only during events and ceremonies. There are no gates here and the sanctuary has an altar which has a statue of the Lord Buddha.

The sanctuary thus is used only for the bonzes. The hall is a place where there are classes for the monks, meals, and other ceremonies. There are stupas which have the ashes of the family members. These are found near the sanctuary.

Thus Cambodia has a lot of Buddhist temples and has the maximum number of Buddhist monks or Bonzes too. A visit to Cambodia would give you the pleasures of enjoying the Buddhist festivals like the Chol Chnam, the Pchum Ben, the Meak Bochea, the Chol Vassa and many others.

How to Prepare For Kedarnath Yatra

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The Kedarnath Temple is perched at an elevation of 11,755 feet above sea level in the Rudraprayag district of Garhwal Himalayan range close to the holy River Mandakini. Dedicated to Lord Shiva as Lord Kedar and being located at such a whopping height the entire place goes through extreme and dramatic weather changes. The door of the temple opens for darshan and comes to life from Akshaya Tritiya in the months of April/May and closes during the months of October / November during Diwali. During the winter season, the entire trekking route and trails gets buried under the thick stark snow making the temple inaccessible for the visitors. However, the presiding deity is shifted from the main shrine of Kedarnath to Ukhimath where it is worshipped for 6 months. A visit to Kedarnath will fill your senses with refreshing memories and a feeling of spirituality.

Route Map of Kedarnath:

Kedarnath Route Map
Once you reach Sonprayag you will be required to travel via a shared taxi cab which charges rupees 20/- per head. This cab will drop you at Gaurikund, which is located at a distance of 16 km from the main Kedarnath mandir. From Gaurikund you will be required to trek up to the main temple of Kedarnath. However, ever since the 2013 flash flood disaster which devastated Uttarakhand the normally 14 km trek to Kedarnath now extended to 16 km.

Here is your trekking guide to Kedarnath Mandir:

  • Sonprayag – Gaurikund (6 km approx.) with the help of a shared taxi.
  • Gaurikund – Jungle Chatti (4 km) via Rambara Bridge.
  • Jungle Chatti – Bheembali (3 km)
  • Bheembali – Linchauli (4 km)
  • Linchauli – Basecamp of Kedarnath (4 km)
  • Basecamp – Kedarnath Temple (1 km)

Things to Remember before Taking up The Kedarnath Trek:

  • Be sure to get yourself checked up thoroughly before heading for this trek since it is extremely physically and mentally taxing.
  • It advised for people with respiratory problems and high blood pressure not to undertake this journey since the air at this altitude is extremely thin.
  • If you want to opt for ponies and palkis to cover the journey then the prior booking can be done at Sonprayag / Gaurikund booking counter.
  • The pilgrims are allowed to trek only between 4 am to 1:30 pm, so it is important for you to start you journey early in the morning.
  • Carry relevant medicines like, painkillers, Paracetamol, Crocin etc. with you during your trek. Also carry a first aid kit containing bandages, ointments, Vicks among other necessary items.
  • Be sure to carry appropriate documentation like identity proof, address proof and phone numbers of your close kin and relatives, which might be useful during the time of an emergency.
  • All the pilgrims are expected to carry heavy woollen clothing and jackets meant for extremely cold weather conditions. Bodywarmers, woollen gloves, muffler windcheaters and sunglasses should also be included.

Travel Tips for Kedarnath Yatra:

  • Carry eatables high in glucose content like, chocolates, assorted dry fruits, lozenges, milk powder etc which serves as an immediate energy booster during the time of fatigue and lethargy.
  • Remember to walk at a slow pace and near the hillside.
  • Always listen to the commands of the yatra officer in order to avoid any danger or inconvenience during your yatra journey.
  • Do not carry any heavy jewellery items in order to walk as freely as possible during three journeys.
  • Alcohol and non-vegetarian items are strictly prohibited during the pilgrimage.
  • Trekking during the rainy season should be avoided at any cost since there is a high chance of landslide and the danger of paths being slippery and prone to accidents.

Memorable Trips for Newlyweds – Honeymoon Destinations in South India

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Honeymoon Destinations in South India
One of the most awaited moments for married couples is the honeymoon. In fact, it’s probably the highlight after going through all those wedding preparations. This will finally be the moment where the couple can relax, do activities at their own pace and create lasting memories that will stay with them throughout their marriage. If you are searching for exotic and tranquil locations for the perfect honeymoon, you might as well search for honeymoon destinations in South India, you will find quite a lot of ideal locations which present you with a lot of picturesque views, enchanting getaways and a lot of activities which you can both enjoy together.

South India is blessed with a lot of dense forests that support an abundant wildlife, exotic sandy beaches, pristine mountains, tranquil back waters, charming sceneries and coral islands. With every moment with the one you love, you will find no other getaway than going to the south of India.

Historical Places
The intoxicating land of India offers exciting backdrops as well as venues where couples can enjoy their surroundings as well as each other’s company. You can visit one of India’s most historic and opulent places, the Andhra Pradesh where you can explore its architectural splendor as well as the detailed work. You will find a lot of heritage sites here such as the state of Charminar, the Golconda Fort and nature attractions such as the Araku Valley, The Horsley Hills and the Amravati.

Also stop by Karnataka which offers a lot of scenic beauty. It is famed for its pageantry of the bygone era and is very rich in culture and traditions. You can explore the rich customs here as well as get immersed with the people. Also, you both can enjoy your time alone in its legendary hilly terrains as well as the multiple wild life sanctuaries and sprawling grasslands.

Serene Kerala
Enjoy the serene backwaters of Kerala as you enjoy your days peacefully gliding its waters on an opulent houseboat. You can stay overnight on the houseboat as it has a lot of amenities and you can enjoy Indian cuisine inside. Here, you will be able to enjoy your own little paradise and enjoy the unique scene Kerala has to offer to you. You can also enjoy the multiple hill stations as well as aromatic herbal gardens, long lines of tea plantations as well as rich wildlife.

Couples will find a lot of beautiful places to stay as well as secluded hideouts where they can enjoy their precious time together. You will also find beaches, forts, temples, as well as castles and major attractions. You will find long stretches of beaches to choose from plus a lot of cities to choose from.

Nature Get Together
You will find the fascinating features of the Lakshadweep islands quite enchanting. You will be able to enjoy the crystal clear waters as well as the myriad of colours presented by the rich marine life. You can go diving around or you can go island hopping and snorkeling. You can also enjoy the pristine nature of Tamil Nadu where you get to enjoy the many hill stations as well as the luscious rolling grasslands, mesmerizing sandy beaches and wildlife sanctuaries. You will find a lot of exotic flora and fauna here. Also, the Pulicat Lake is one of the best spots to visit and that also includes Ooty, the Queen of Hill Stations along south India.

With every moment you spend here in South India, you will find each one better and more exciting than the last. After all, South India offers great backdrops for the most romantic honeymoon celebration for you and your partner.

How to Get Your Child Interested in History

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Getting Kids Interested in History
If you would like to enhance your child’s knowledge of history, it might seem impossible to imagine taking them away from their telly, gaming or tablets. However, there are many ways you can encourage your child to learn more about the history and even learn to love the stories, myths, and events that have helped mold our country. If you would like to help your child discover the truly exciting and interesting world of history, try these tips to help them look back at their roots.

Great Websites
Since computers and tablets are now part of a child’s reality it is the perfect tool to use to help them explore the history. By teaching your child how to use their computers to find the information you will be providing them with a skill they will require for their education. First, do some searches on your own and look for fun, interactive sites that will make learning less of a chore. Look for sites designed for kids and that use simple explanations and images to tell the interesting tales of British history. Delve into your family’s roots and culture as well if you have immigrated to England to help them learn more about themselves.

Visit Historical Sites
London is a city filled with interesting historical landmarks. Use rainy weekends as the perfect opportunity to drop into famous buildings and take a tour or just take a wander down London streets to see what you can find. There are so many building tours you can join and you can take a look online to find out times and suggest some of the areas they might be interested to visit. Ask them if they are curious about the buildings they might pass every day such as famous churches and see if they would like to venture into them one day. Hands-on experiences where they can get up close and learn new and exciting tidbits about history work a charm for raising their curiosity.

Time Tours
An excellent option for children is a London Time Tour. Time Tours bills itself (very confidently we have to say!) as the best Bus Tours London can brag about. Their bus tours have been created with a theatrical element and are led by Professor Quantum, a fictional character who uses comedy and insight to make learning about history fun. Tours take place on a double Decker bus and Professor Quantum uses his “time alternator” to bring you back in time. Special effects and interesting period characters are also part of the tour making it a truly unique experience certain to spark their interests in this fascinating city of ours. Stops include:

  • The Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Downing Street
  • Paul’s Cathedral
  • The Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • London Bridge

Museums
Of course, museums are the perfect places to stimulate interest and you can take kids through some of the less boring exhibits, stopping into to see a mummy and visiting things that will pique their personal interests.

History doesn’t have to be boring and finding new ways to engage children in order to learn can help set them on a path of discovery.

Things to Make In Phuket an Amazing Travel Destination

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Phuket
Phuket is often a hot island in the south-west of Thailand. Overall performance had been lure for people beyond its shores. The actual of the island is imprecise, but it’s Thailand’s most desired tourist choice. Billions of tourists delivered to Phuket every year due to the beaches, its first-class diving, swimming and its vivacious nightlife. There are numerous teeming and colorful markets for holiday bungalows. Some are expensive and others are offered for rent. Annually in December, there are masses simply the top-notch contest. International sporting events also take place in this wonderful metropolis.

your friends? If so, free airline coast of this island offers you a fun and a wild party environment. For anyone who is thinking of getting some quiet bonding time with your loved ones, the new England offers exclusive holiday villas where you can get both privacy and luxury.

The villas offer books than a resort but a majority of people are nervous about finding and booking a Villa and paying a hefty deposit up lead. Many people see mysteriously named +Villas+ which usually nothing beyond hotels a self-catered holiday. Luxury Villas live up to their name and it is better to contact a qualified agent can be responsive, knowledgeable and offers suggestions and options.

Craving for adventurous activities? Go along the Northeastern you will find a small island which is the number 1 place for snorkeling, fishing and scuba diving. This is the place where Pearl farming comes together.

Then, a good effort to exhibit how she is a respectful American awareness of Thai culture, she puts her hands gently together in a prayer-like position and peacefully nods to show her numerous. The enjoyable part of this all is that while her efforts to show her conservative, cultural cognizance, she is clad in a white halter top which shows off her entire stomach area and shorts are generally so short they more closely resemble slightly long underwear. The juxtaposition is just too incredibly good.

There are times in life, when you wish to break waves and tides you should also this you ought to look for an appropriate arena. As work pressure is increasing, it is time for you to take a break and spend a visit to a marvelous holiday neighborhood. So, get ready to splash water in the Phuket honeymoon Tour Packages Area. Indeed, there are hundreds of travel locations from the world; often it becomes tough to choose the right travel final destination. If you are facing such glitch, then visiting the Thai island will definitely offer you immense happy. Every year numerous people from different corners found on earth are busy finding a perfect travel holiday break. Hence, without thinking much you actually book your ticket towards Thai is.

Tree hotel owner, Kent Lindell announced that he set a goal to widen his hotel with 24 rooms within five years. The tree-hotel is situated at a height of 4 to 6 meters higher than the actual foot-hold. All Its four sides have been fitted up with glasses, so that the outside seems like a huge mirror for visitors. It looks like an interestingly weird hotel within a wide beautiful garden. In order to free in the tree could be the major target of tree-hotel, and however the price for your experiment is $555 a bedroom for each of the public. According to the managing board, many countries like British, Germany, Greece and some far-flung countries like New Zealand and Australia have booked this hotel beforehand.

Searching for the ideal villas in Phuket can make your stay more comfortable while enjoying your most awaited escape to Thailand. Search online for your villa accommodation before booking your flying.

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