Top Ten Indian Temples

Top Ten Indian Temples

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  1. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai
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             Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai in India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is known here as Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord, and his consort, Parvati who is known as Meenakshi. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built in 1600. The tallest temple tower is 51.9 m (170 ft) high.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meenakshi_Sundareswarar_Temple,
  2. Ellora Caves and Kailash Temple

           Ellora is an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura (in the Rashtrakuta literature). Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves,
  3. Ajaṇṭā Caves
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           The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 300 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 480 or 650 AD. The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting”, which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 AD according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460 to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. The caves are 100 km (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples as well as Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura), and although they are now along and above a modern pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by individual stairs or ladders from the side of the river 35 to 110 feet below. The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct “monasteries” or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to 28 according to their place along the path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely begun and others are small shrines. Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves. The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; other survivals from the area of modern India are very few, though they are related to 5th-century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. The elaborate architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of the many figure sculptures is highly local, found only at a few nearby contemporary sites.
    Links: Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajanta_Caves,
  4. Srikalahasti Temple, Andhra Pradesh
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           Srikalahasti Temple is located in the town of Srikalahasti, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India, and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer both his eyes to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord Siva stopped him and granted him mukti. Sri Kalahasti temple, situated 36 km away from Tirupati is famous for its Vayu deva temple, which is the only shrine for the God of Wind in India. Constructed in the 12th century by the Chola king, Rajendra Chola, Vayu is incarnated as Lord Shiva and worshipped as Kalahasteeswara.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalahasti_temple,
  5. Konark Sun Temple, India
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    Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 AD) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty. The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is one of the Seven Wonders of India. Legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. It is said that Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honor he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten Hindu DeitiesTop 100 SculpturesTop 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten RelievesTop Ten Asian Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konark_Sun_Temple,
  6. Lotus Temple, Delhi
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           The Bahá’í House of Worship in Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahá’í House of Worship and also a prominent attraction in Delhi. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent. It has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.
    Links: Top 100 Flowershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_temple,
  7. Punjab and the Harmandir Sahib (“Golden Temple”)
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           The Harmandir Sahib, also Darbar Sahib, the “Golden Temple,” is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was built by the 5th Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, in the 16th Century. In 1604, Guru Arjun completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. The present day Gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls. In the early 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the Gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmandir_Sahib,
  8. Annamalaiyar Temple, Tamilnadu
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           Annamalaiyar Temple is a noted Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at the bottom of the Annamalai hill in Thiruvannamalai town in Tamilnadu, India. It is the home of Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar (Lord Shiva worshipped as a Shiva Lingam) and Unnamalaiyaal (Apitakuchambaal – Parvati), and is one of the largest temples in India. It occupies a special place in the Saivite realm and is regarded as one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams (one of the five grand temples associated with the five basic elements), associated with the element Fire; the other four being Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (sky), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). It is said that the Saivite saint poet Manikkavasagar composed the Tiruvempaavai while at Thiruvannamalai.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annamalaiyar_Temple,
  9. Chidambaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Chidambaram Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram, 78 km south of Pondicherry and 60 km north of Karaikal in Cuddalore District, the east-central part of the Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods. In Hindu literature, Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind).
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Top 100 Indian Sculptures,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidambaram_Temple, 
  10. Buddhist Pilgrimage of Lumbinī, Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath
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           Lumbinī, “the lovely,” is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama and where he lived roughly between 623 and 543 BC and founded Buddhism as Gautama Buddha. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. Lumbini, where the Buddha lived until the age of 29, has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple and others under construction. Also located here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath, as well as the remains of Kapilavastu palace. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, achieved ultimate awakening and finally relinquished earthly form. Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala). For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha. Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 km north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the 11th Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site. Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason. It was also the site of the Buddha’s Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it. Kushinagar is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in Gorakhpur district of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important to Buddhists, as it is the site, where Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumbinihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarnath, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushinagar,
  11. Khajuraho Group of Monuments
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    The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 km (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted. The name Khajuraho, ancient “Kharjuravāhaka,” is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = “one who carries.” Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments,
  12. Srisailam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
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           Srisailam is a holy town and mandal, situated in Nallamala Hills of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located on the banks of River Krishna, about 232 km south of Hyderabad. Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy (a form of Shiva) and Devi Bhramaramba (a form of Parvathi) is located here and it is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Srisailam Dam, located about 245 km from Hyderabad and 132 km from Nandyal, is a multipurpose dam has been built across River Krishna and caters to the irrigation and power needs of the state.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srisailam,
  13. Ekambareswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Ekambareswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams (each representing a natural element) representing the element Earth. The other four temples in this category are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (ether), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). All of the four revered Saivite Saints have sung the glories of this temple. Legend has it that once Parvati was doing tapas under the temple’s ancient Mango Tree. In order to test her devotion Lord Shiva sent fire on her. Goddess Parvati prayed to her brother, Lord Vishnu, for help. In order to save her, he took the Moon from Lord Shiva’s head and showed the rays which then cooled down the tree as well as Parvati. After that, Lord Shiva again sent the river Ganga (Ganges) to disrupt Parvati’s tapas. Parvati devi prayed to Ganga and convinced her that both of them were sisters and so should not harm her. And so Ganga did not disturb her penance after that. Then Parvati made a Shiva Linga out of sand and got united with Lord Shiva. According to another legend, it is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam (or a Lingam improvised out of sand), under a mango tree. Legend has it that the neighboring Vegavati River overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam. Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as Tazhuva kuzhainthaar (“He who melted in Her embrace”) in Tamil.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekambareswarar_Temple,
  14. Kanyakumari Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Kanyakumari is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India, sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin. Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is the geographical end of the Indian mainland. The district in Tamil Nadu where the town is located is called Kanyakumari District. The closest major cities are Nagercoil, the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District, (22 km) and Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala (85 km). The town is a popular tourist place in India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanyakumari,
  15. Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Rameswaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Kashi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. Hence, it is a bustling pilgrim centre. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. According to legend, this is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge Ram Setu (also known as Adam’s Bridge) across the sea to Lanka to rescue his consort Sita from her abductor Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage centre which is known as the Varanasi of the south. Ex-president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, hails from a fishing hamlet called Dhanushkodi situated on this island.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rameshwaram,
  16. Thiruvanaikaval Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Thiruvanaikaval is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), located in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam. Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu(Panchabhoota Sthalams) representing the Mahābhūta or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. The other Panchabhoota Sthalams are located at Chidambaram (sky/ space), Kalahasti (wind), Tiruvannamalai (fire) and Kanchipuram (earth).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambukeswarar_Temple,_Thiruvanaikaval,
  17. Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India
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           The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty. The Modhera sun temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati, 25 km from Mehsana and 102 km from Ahmedabad.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten Columns/Pillars,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple,_Modhera,
  18. Tiruchendur Temple, Tamil Nadu
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            Thiruchendur is a panchayat town in Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This town has a different name called Thirucheer Alaiwai.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiruchendur,
  19. Nellaiappar Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Nellaiappar Temple is one of the famous Shiva Temples situated at the heart of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India.
    Links: Top Ten Pillars/Columns, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellaiappar_Temple,
  20. Great Living Chola Temples
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    The Great Living Chola Temples are temples built during the Chola rule in the south of India. These temples are the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola who conquered a large area in South India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Kadaram (Kedah in Malaysia) at the beginning of the 11th century AD. It occupies an important place in the history of India. As the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 AD for about 250 years, the city controlled the affairs of entire southern India, from the Tungabhadra in the north to Ceylon in the south and other Southeast Asian countries. The great temple of Siva at this place is next only to the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur in its monumental nature and surpasses it in sculptural quality. The Gangaikondaan temple is an architectural and engineering marvel because the shadow of the main tower never falls on the ground throughout the year. Airavatesvara Temple is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD.
    Links: Top Ten Pillars/Columns,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadisvara_Temple,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangaikonda_Cholapuram,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airavatesvara_Temple,
  21. Brihadeeswarar Temple
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    Thanjavur is a city in southern India state of Tamil Nadu. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire. It has been a part of independent India since 1947 and an important center of South Indian religion, art and architecture. The foremost among these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. The city is an important agricultural center located in the Cauvery Delta and is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu.” Roadways are the major means of transportation, while the city also has rail connectivity.  The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The vimana or (temple tower) is 216 ft. (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 ft. long and 13 ft. high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I in Thanjavur, Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple,’ turned 1000 years old in 2010.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanjavurhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadeeswarar_Temple,
  22. Yaganti, Andhra Pradesh
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           Sri Yaganti Uma Maheswara Temple or Yaganti is a temple to Lord Shiva in Kurnool District in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaganti,
  23. Hampi and Vijayanagara
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    Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious center, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. In around 1500 Vijaynagar had 500,000 inhabitants, probably making it the 2nd largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and twice the then size of Paris.
    Links: Top Ten Columns/Pillars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayanagara,
  24. Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India,

Top Ten Sun Temples

Top Ten Sun Temples

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  1. Konark Sun Temple, India
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           Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 AD) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty. The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is one of the Seven Wonders of India. Legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. It is said that Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honor he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Top Ten Indian Temples, Top Ten Hindu Deities, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten Relieves, Top Ten Asian Relieves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konark_Sun_Temple,
  2. Baaelbeck Temple, Lebanon
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    Baalbek is a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude 1,170 m (3,840 ft), situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon’s greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world, containing some of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins. Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. The gods worshiped here, the triad of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design. Baalbek is home to the annual Baalbeck International Festival. The town is about 85 km (53 mi) northeast of Beirut, and about 75 km (47 mi) north of Damascus. It has a population of approximately 72,000.
    Links: Top Ten Lebanese Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baalbek,
  3. Multan Sun Temple

    Sun Temple of Multan also known as Aditya Sun Temple was an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Surya also called Aditya, which was located in city of Multan, in modern Punjab, Pakistan. The original Sun Temple at Multan is said to have been built by Samba, son of Krishna, to get relief from disease of leprosy. This Sun Temple has been mentioned also by Greek Admiral Skylax, who passed through this area in 515 BC. Multan, earlier known as Kashyapapura, and its temple are also mentioned by Herodotus. Hsuen Tsang is said to have visited this temple in 641 AD and had described the deity made of pure gold with eyes of large red rubies. Gold, silver and gems were abundantly used in its doors, pillars and shikhara. Thousands of Hindus regularly went to Multan to worship Sun God. He is also said to have seen several dancing girls (devadasis) in the temple. He further mentions the deities of Shiva and Buddha were also installed in the temple. After the conquest of Multan by Umayyad Caliphate in 8th Century AD, under Muhammad bin Qasim, the Sun Temple became a source of great income for the Muslim invaders. Muhammad bin Qasim ‘made captive of the custodians of the budd, numbering 6000’ and looted its wealth, sparing the idol – which was made of wood, covered with red leather and two red rubies for its eyes and wearing a gem-studded gold crown- ‘thinking it best to leave the idol where it was, but hanging a piece of cow’s flesh on its neck by way of mockery.’ Later, the temple was also used a bargaining chip to blackmail any Hindu kings heading towards Multan. Whenever an “infidel king” was about to invade, the Muslim ruler would threaten to destroy the idol, which apparently made the “infidel king” withdraw. In the late 10th century, the Ismailis who occupied Multan broke the idol into pieces and killed its priests. The temple is said to have been finally destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026 AD. The city of Multan may get its name from the Sanskrit name Mulasthana named after location of this Sun Temple. The exact site of Sun Temple of Multan is, however, unknown and subject of debate for researchers.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple_of_Multan,
  4. Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India
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           The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty. The Modhera sun temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati, 25 km from Mehsana and 102 km from Ahmedabad.
    Links: Top Ten Columns/Pillars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple,_Modhera,
  5. The Vatican, Vatican City
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    Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of just over 800. This makes Vatican City the smallest independent state in the world by both area and population. Vatican City was established in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri, on behalf of the Holy See and by Prime Minister Benito Mussolini on behalf of the Kingdom of Italy. Vatican City State is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal see of 1.2 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, issues only diplomatic and service passports, whereas Vatican City State issues normal passports. In each case very few passports are issued. The Lateran Treaty in 1929, which brought the city-state into existence, spoke of it as a new creation, not as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756–1870) that had previously encompassed much of central Italy. Most of this territory was absorbed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860, and the final portion, namely the city of Rome with Lazio, ten years later, in 1870. Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope’s residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. The Popes have generally resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377, but have also at times resided in the Quirinal Palace in Rome and elsewhere. Previously, they resided in the Lateran Palace on the Caelian Hill on the far side of Rome from the Vatican. Emperor Constantine gave this site to Pope Miltiades in 313. The signing of the agreements that established the new state took place in the latter building, giving rise to the name of Lateran Pacts, by which they are known.
    Links: Top Ten Vatican City Attractions, Top Ten Italian Attractions,
  6. Heliopolis

           Heliopolis, the “City of the Sun” or “Eye of the Sun,” was one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, located to the north of the apex of the Nile Delta. Heliopolis has been occupied since the Predynastic Period, with extensive building campaigns during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Today it is mostly destroyed; its temples and other buildings were used for the construction of medieval Cairo. Most information about the ancient city comes from textual sources. Beneath a maze of busy narrow streets of a middle and lower-class district, lie vast hidden remains of ancient Heliopolis about 15 to 20 m down. The site of Heliopolis has now been brought for the most part under cultivation and suburbanization, but some ancient city walls of crude brick can be seen in the fields, a few granite blocks bearing the name of Ramesses II remain, and the position of the great Temple of Re-Atum is marked by the Al-Masalla obelisk. The only surviving remnant of Heliopolis is the Temple of Re-Atum obelisk located in Al-Masalla of the Al-Matariyyah district. It was erected by Senusret I of the Twelfth dynasty, and still stands in its original position. The 68 ft (20.73 m) high red granite obelisk weighs 120 tons (240,000 lbs).
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, Top Ten Obelisks,
  7. Sun Temple of Nyserre, Abusir, Egypt

    The Fifth Dynasty was marked by an especially strong devotion to the sun cult, which was based at Heliopolis. The founder of this dynasty, Userkaf started the fashion of attaching sun temples with his mortuary temple and pyramid complexes at Abusir. This practice was followed by most of his Fifth Dynasty successors particularly Sahure and Nyuserre Ini. Only the solar temples of Userkaf and Nyuserre survive today, but Nyuserre’s temple contains a large catalogue of invaluable inscriptions and reliefs from this king’s reign. The city of Abu Gorab is located on the western bank of the Nile, in the pyramid fields of the north. It lies between Abusir and Giza.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_sun_temple,
  8. Palenque Sun Temple, Mexico
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    The Temple of the Cross is the largest and most significant pyramid within a complex of temples at the Maya ruins of Palenque in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. It is located in the south-east corner of the site and consists of three main structures, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Cross, and the Temple of the Foliated Cross. The temple is a step pyramid containing bas-relief carvings inside. The temple was constructed to commemorate the rise of Chan Bahlum II to the throne after the death of Pacal the Great. The bas-relief carvings reveal Chan Bahlum receiving the great gift from his predecessor. The cross motif found at the complex allude to the names given to the temples, but in reality the cross is a representation to the World Tree that can be found in the center of the world according to Mayan mythology.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_the_Cross_Complex,
  9. Inti Kancha, Cuzco, Peru
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           Qurikancha, originally named Inti Kancha (Quechua inti sun) or Inti Wasi (Quechua for “sun house”), was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. It was one of the most revered temples of the capital city of Cusco. The walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold, and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was “fabulous beyond belief.” When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of the leader Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from Qurikancha. The Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building. Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological museum, which contains numerous interesting pieces, including mummies, textiles, and sacred idols from the site. The site now also includes the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo.
    Links:  Top Ten Peruvian Attractions, Top Ten Incan Gods,
  10. Martand in Jammu, India
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    Martand Sun Temple was dedicated to Surya (Sun) god and is now in ruins. The ruins of the temple are located near Anantnag in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Martand is another Sanskrit name for Hindu Sun-god. The Martand temple is one of the important archaeological sites of the country. It was built around 500 AD. This temple has the typical Aryan structure as was present in Aryan Kashmir. The Martand temple is situated at Kehribal, 9 km east-north-east of Anantnag and south of Mattan.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martand,
  11. Dakshinaarka Temple in Gaya and Deo Barunark, Bihar, India
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    Gaya is the second largest city of Bihar, India, and it is also the headquarters of Gaya District. Gaya is 100 km south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Jain religions. According to legend it is believed that Brahmayoni hill is the location where Buddha taught the Fire Sutta.
    It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaya,_Bihar,
  12. Balaji in Madhya Pradesh and Bhramanya Dev Temple Unao, India
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    The Balaji, a famous and rare sun temple of its own unique architecture, is situated in a very small town Unao of Datia district in Madhya Pradesh. The Balaji temple was built in the pre-historic time by the king of Datia. It is said that, a cow used to go to a particular place to get fed in the outskirts of Unao. The cow every day pours her milk at that particular place. The cow was belong to a person of caste “Kachhi”, the people of this caste generally used to grow vegetables. The owner of cow was not aware of this incident. Once a person of chamar caste saw that the cow is pouring her milk on the earth. The people of this cast have the occupation of assassinating cows. He immediately grabbed the opportunity and assassinated the cow. On the following night, The God Sun comes in the dreams of the king of Datia and told the king to dig him out from the location, where the cow used to pour her milk. Next morning, King called his boys and dug out the place and found a statue of GOD SUN. He built a temple in Unao and established the statue on a brick platform, and as said by the god sun, the owner of that cow has been assigned the Priest. Since then only people belonging to “Kachhi” caste can only sit at the brick platform and offer garlands, prasadas to the deity. While in India, only a person belonging to Brahmin caste can offer worship. The pilgrims and pandas (people belong to Brahmin caste) also take part in the worship of the deity but the main priest is said to be “Kachhi” caste people. The Sun Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh is unique in its architecture. The Sun God is the main deity of this temple. The Sun God stands on a brick platform covered with black plates. 21 triangles, representing the 21 phases of the Sun are engraved in the shrine. Here, special worship is offered on Sundays. Local belief is that worshippers find relief from skin ailments at this temple. The deity Balaji is very much famous for curing skin ailments. People from far distant places come and worship the deity. Below the temple, a river Pahooj is also flowing. There are some wells in the river, at the time of summer, people used to have bathe with the water in the wells. It is said that, if you have bathe in river and offer water to deity Balaji, all your incurable skin ailments will be cured within few days. Sunday is considered as the day of deity Balaji (Sun). All the inhabitants of Unao and the surrounding region has enormous faith in the deity and also have felt the power of it.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unao,_Balaji,
  13. Sun Temple at Sri Surya Pahar in Assam
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    Sri Surya Pahar, located about 12 km southeast of Goalpara town and about 136 km northwest of Guwahati, is a significant but relatively unknown archaeological site in Assam, India. The site is centered on the hills (Pahar) of Sri Surya where several rock-cut Shivalingas, votive stupas and the deities of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain pantheon are scattered in an area of about one km. The popular belief is that 99,999 Shiva Lingas were engraved here by Vyasa in order to build up a second Kashi (where there were 1,00000 Shiva Lingas) and once it was one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in the region. A few years ago, some archaeologists unearthed a few Shiva Lingas and a few houses at Sri Surya, findings which confirmed the long-held belief that a thriving civilization held sway around Sri Surya Pahar some centuries ago. The intricate and scientific designs of the houses with artfully designed bricks led some archaeologists even to believe that more unearthing the history of Sri Surya Pahar would change the understanding of the history of ancient Assam and India. Some scholars even referred to the accounts of famous Chinese traveler Huen Tsang to claim that it was Sri Surya Pahar and not Guwahati that was the ancient land of Pragjyotishpur or Pragjyotisha Kingdom, the capital of the Kingdom of Kumar Bhaskara Varman (600-650). Since Sri Surya Pahar is very close to the bank of Brahmaputra river, it might have been an important trade center or seat of administration in the past. Another important significance of Sri Surya Pahar is that it was once a confluence of three religions as evident from the innumerable sculptures and other relics belonging to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Surya_Pahar,
  14. Suryanaar Temple at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, India

    Kumbakonam is known for its temples and mathas (monasteries). There are around 188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits of Kumbakonam. Apart from these, there several thousand temples around the town thereby giving the town the sobriquets “Temple Town” and “City of temples.” Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is considered to be the oldest Shaiva (the sect of the god Shiva) shrine in the town, believed to be constructed by the Cholas in the 7th century. The Nageswaraswamy Temple has a separate shrine for the Sun god Surya who is believed to have worshipped Shiva at this place. Pilgrims from all parts of India take a holy dip once every 12 years during the Mahamaham festival in the Mahamaham tank. An estimated 2 million pilgrims participated in the festival during the 2004 event. Govinda Dikshitar constructed the 16 mandapams (shrines) and stone steps around this tank.
    Links:
  15. Surya Narayana Swamy Temple at Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh, India
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    Arasavalli is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god Surya, located near the Srikakulam town of Andhra Pradesh, India. The original name Harshavalli means abode of joy. The temple is believed to have been built in the 7th century AD by the Kalinga rulers Devendra Varma of Orissa. Arasavalli is home to an ancient temple to the Sun (Suryanarayana), which is said to have been built originally by the Kalinga rulers of Orissa around the 7th century AD. Arasavalli is located at Srikakulam near Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Also near Srikakulam are the Mukhalingam temples built in the Orissa temple idiom, and Sree Kurmam bearing a shrine to Vishnu depicting his Kurma avataram. Legend has it that Indra the king of Gods attempted to force his entry into the temple of Koteeshwara, Shiva and was thrown away by the gatekeeper Nandi. Repentful of his arrogance in attempting to force his entry, Indra enshrined Surya the Sun God in a temple and performed worship services, at Arasavalli. A black granite image of Surya about 5 ft in height bearing lotus buds (hence the name Padma Paani), flanked by his consorts Padma, Usha and Chhaaya, on a 7 horse driven chariot is the object of worship here. At the base of the image are the gate keepers Pingala and Danda and the saints Sanaka and Sananda. Surya’s charioteer Aruna (Anoora) is also depicted in the image. The Arasavalli teemple was built by the Eastern Kalinga Kings who ruled over the Kalinga region from the 4th through the 14th century AD. The present structure is largely a result of 18th-century renovations. An image of Indra is also enshrined in this temple.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arasavalli,
  16. Kashmir near Almora in Uttarakhand
  17. Bonus: Gateway of the Sun (Gate of Viracocha), Tiwanaku, Bolivia

    The so-called Gate of the Sun is a megalithic solid stone arch or gateway constructed by the ancient Tiwanaku culture of Bolivia over 1,500 years before the present. It is located near Lake Titicaca at about 3,825 m above sea level near La Paz, Bolivia. The object is approximately 9.8 ft. (3.0 m) tall and 13 ft. (4.0 m) wide, and is constructed from a single piece of stone. The weight is estimated to be 10 tons. When rediscovered by European explorers in the mid-19th century, the megalith was lying horizontally and had a large crack going through it. It currently stands in the same location where it was found, although it is believed that this is not its original location, which remains uncertain. The Gate of the Sun is a valuable monument to the history of art and ancient architecture. Some elements of Tiwanaku iconography spread throughout Peru and parts of Bolivia. Although there have been various modern interpretations of the mysterious inscriptions found on the object, the engravings that decorate the gate are believed to possess astronomical and/or astrological significance and may have served a calendrical purpose.
    Links: Top Ten Bolivian Attractions, Top Ten Gates,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_of_the_Sunhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwanaku,
  18. Links: The Pineal Gland, Sun Gazing, DMT and Om, Top Ten Sun Gods,

Temples

Temples

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