The Most Famous Temples in The World


 

 

The Most Famous Temples in The World

More than a quarter of all people in the world belong to Eastern religions, which include Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism. These people worship in temples, which are architecturally as diverse as the religions are different from each other. From the ancient ruins of Ankor Wat to the distinctly modern Wat Rong Khun, there are hundreds if not thousands of amazing temples in the world.

I have long been fascinated by the temples and sacred sites of Eastern religions. After doing an article on some amazing churches from around the world (10 Divinely Designed Churches), it’s only right that we do a follow up on the ten most fascinating temples in Asia. Here they are, in no particular order:

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched precariously on the edge of a 3,000-feet-high cliff in Paro Valley, is one of the holiest places in Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche[wiki], the second Buddha, flew onto the cliff on the back of a tigress, and then meditated in a cave which now exists within the monastery walls.

The monastery, formally called Taktshang Goemba, was built in 1692 and reconstructed in 1998 after a fire. Now, the monastery is restricted to practicing Buddhists on religious retreats and is off-limits to ordinary tourists.

Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand is unlike any Buddhist temples in the world. The all-white, highly ornate structure gilded in mosaic mirrors that seem to shine magically, is done in a distinctly contemporary style. It is the brainchild of renowned Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.

Actually, the temple is still under construction. Chalermchai expects it will take another 90 years to complete, making it the Buddhist temple equivalent of the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, Spain!

Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. Image: majorbonnet [Flickr]

Wat Rong Khun, from a distance. Image: AraiGordai [Flickr]

Details of the temple roof. Image: AraiGordai [Flickr

The ornately detailed arches. Image: Alicia Lim [Flickr]

Buddha sculpture, gilded with mosaic mirrors. Image: majorbonnet [Flickr]

Prambanan

Prambanan is a Hindu temple in Central Java, Indonesia. The temple was built in 850 CE, and is composed of 8 main shrines and 250 surrounding smaller ones.

Nearly all the walls of the temple are covered in exquisite bas relief carvings, which narrate stories of Vishnu’s incarnations, adventures of Hanuman the Monkey King, theRamayana [wiki] epic and other legends.

Though not the biggest temple in Indonesia (Borobudur is larger – see below), Prambanan makes up in beauty and grace for what it lacks in size.

Prambanan’s main complex. Image: Rosino [Flickr]

Six of Prambanan’s eight main shrines. Image: kashikar [Flickr]

Prambanan at night. Image: Tierecke [Flickr]

Bas-Relief at Prambanan. Image: Jungle_Boy [Flickr]

Shwedagon Pagoda

No one knows exactly when the Shwedagon Paya [wiki] (or Pagoda) in Myanmar was built – legend has it that it is 2,500 years old though archaeologists estimate that it was built between the 6th and 10th century.

Now, when people say “golden temple” they usually mean that the structure is golden in color. But when it comes to the Shwedagon Pagoda, golden literally means covered in gold! In the 15th century, a queen of the Mon people donated her weight in gold to the temple. This tradition continues until today, where pilgrims often save for years to buy small packets of gold leafs to stick to the temple walls.

As if all that gold wasn’t enough, the spire of the stupa or dome is covered with over 5,000 diamonds and 2,000 rubies (there’s even a 76 carat diamond at the very tip!). And oh, the temple housed one of the holiest relics in Buddhism: eight strands of Buddha’s hair.

Shwedagon Pagoda and its golden stupa. Image: Dust Mason [Flickr]

Shwedagon Pagoda at night. Image: M.Bob [Flickr]

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven [wiki] is a Taoist temple in Beijing, the capital of China. The temple was constructed in 14th century by Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (who also built the Forbidden City) as his personal temple, where he would pray for good harvest and to atone for the sins of his people.

The Temple’s architecture is quite interesting: everything in the temple, which represents Heaven, is circular whereas the ground levels, which represent the Earth, are square.

Close up of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, Temple of Heaven.
Image: star5112 [Flickr]

Ceiling of the Imperial Vault, Temple of Heaven. Image: Carol^-^ [Flickr]

Chion-in Temple

Chion-in Temple [wiki] was built in 1234 CE to honor the founder of Jodo (Pure Land) Buddhism, a priest named Honen, who fasted to death in the very spot. At one point in time, the complex had 21 buildings but due to earthquakes and fire, the oldest surviving building is from the 17th century.

Visitors to the Chion-in Temple must first pass through the largest gate in Japan: the two-story San-mon Gate. The temple bell is also a record setter: it weighs 74 tons and needs 17 monks to ring it during the New Year celebrations.

Another interesting feature of the Chion-in Temple is the “singing” floor of the Assembly Hall. Called a uguisu-bari or nightingale floor, the wooden planks were designed to creak at every footstep to alert the monks of intruders!

A building in the Chion-in Temple complex in winter time. Image: psychofish [Flickr]

Details of the Chion-in Temple roof. Notice a feudal family’s crest stamped on the roof tiles, as a symbol of their patronage. Image: kuribo [Flickr]

Chion-in’s Temple Bell. Image: Richard Seaman

The Nightingale Floor construction. Image: rygriffin333 [Flickr]

Borobudur

In the 19th century, Dutch occupiers of Indonesia found a massive ancient ruin deep in the jungles of Java. What they discovered was the complex of Borobudur, a gigantic structure built with nearly 2 million cubic feet (55,000 m³) of stones. The temple has nearly 2,700 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.

Until today, no one knows for sure when and why it was built, nor the reason for its complete abandonment hundreds of years ago. Some scholars believe that Borobudur is actually a giant textbook of Buddhism, as its bas reliefs tell the story of the life of Buddha and the principles of his teachings. To “read,” a pilgrim must make his way through nine platforms and walk a distance of over 2 miles.

Aerial view of Borobudur. Image: Kenyon College

Temple

The Harmandir Sahib (meaning The Abode of God) or simply the Golden Temple[wiki] in Punjab, India is the most sacred shrine of Sikhism. For the Sikhs, the Golden Temple symbolizes infinite freedom and spiritual independence.

The site of the Temple began with a small lake that was so peaceful that even Buddha came there to meditate. Thousands of years later, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism also lived and meditate by the lake.

Construction of the Golden Temple began in the 1500s, when the fourth Guru of Sikhism enlarged the lake that became Amritsar or Pool of the Nectar of Immortality, around which the temple and the city grew. The Temple itself is decorated with marble sculptures, gilded in gold, and covered in precious stones.

The Golden Temple of Amritsar at night. Image: Saurabh C [Flickr]

Vishnu Temple of Srirangam

The Temple of Srirangam (Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple [wiki]), in the Indian city of Tiruchirapalli (or Trichy), is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world (Ankor Wat is the largest of all temple, but it is currently non-functioning as a temple – see below).

The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, one of three Gods in Hinduism. Legend has it that a long time ago, a sage rested and put down a statue of Vishnu reclining on a great serpent. When he was ready to resume his journey, he discovered that the statue couldn’t be moved, so a small temple was built over it. Over centuries, the temple “grew” as larger ones were built over the existing buildings.

The temple complex is massive: it encompasses an area of over 150 acres (63 hectares) with seven concentric walls, the outermost being about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long! The walls demarcate enclosures within enclosures, each more sacred than the next, with the inner-most enclosure is forbidden to non-Hindus.

The Temple of Srirangam is famous for its gopurams or entrances beneath colorful pyramids. The temple has 21 gopurams total, with the largest one having 15 stories and is nearly 200 feet (60 m) tall.

The carved pillars in the Srirangam Temple complex. Image: appaji [Flickr]

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple (Telugu: తిరుమల వెంకటేశ్వరస్వామి దేవస్థానము Tamil:திருவேங்கடம்) is a famous Hindu temple of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Venkateswara located in the hill town Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittor district ofAndhra PradeshIndia. The temple is situated on Venkatadri, one of the seven hills of Tirumala, and hence is also known as the Temple of Seven Hills (Saptagiri inSanskrit). The presiding deity of the temple, Lord Venkateswara, is also known by other names – BalajiGovinda and Srinivasa.

The temple is reportedly the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world.[1] The temple is visited by about 100,000 to 200,000 pilgrims daily, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most visited holy place in the world.[2]

According to legend, the temple has a self-manifested murti (idol) of LordVenkateswara, believed to have resided there for the entire Kali Yuga[citation needed]. In Sri Vaishnava tradition, the temple is considered one of the 108 Divya Desams.

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon

Last but definitely not least is the largest temple in history and the inspiration to countless novels and action movies of Hollywood: Ankor Wat.

Angkor Wat [wiki] was built in the early 12th century in what is now Cambodia. The world famous temple was first a Hindu one, dedicated to Vishnu. In the 14th or 15th century, as Buddhism swept across Asia, it became a Buddhist temple.

The Western world’s got a glimpse of Angkor Wat when a 16th century Portuguese monk visited the temple and eloquently described it as “of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” His words still rang true today.

Tourists visiting Angkor Wat usually also visit the nearby ruins of Angkor Thom andBayon [wiki], two fantastic temples that serve as the ancient capital of Khmer empire.

Angkor Wat. Image: jpslim [Flickr]

The face of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara at Angkor Thom.
Image: Manfred Werner [wikipedia]

Bayon, which described by Maurice Glaize, an Angkor conservator of the 1940s, as “but a muddle of stones, a sort of moving chaos assaulting the sky”
Image: Charles J. Sharp [wikipedia]

Entrance to Bayon. That man on the bike is carrying coconuts. Lots and lots of coconuts. Image: therefromhere [Flickr]

The faces of Bayon. Straight out of Indiana Jones, man!
Image: Henry Flower [wikipedia]

Bonus:

Here are some more amazing temples and sacred places that just couldn’t fit in the list above:

Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple

Potala Palace [wiki], built on top of the Red Mountain in Lhasa, Tibet, China was built by the first emperor of Tibet in 637 CE. The current palace was re-constructed in the mid-1600s by the fifth Dalai Lama.

The Palace consists of two main buildings, the Potrang Karpo (White Palace) and Portrang Marpo (Red Palace). It was the chief home of the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama until he was forced to flee to India when China invaded Tibet in 1959. It is now a state museum.

Potala Palace. Image: Press Club of Tibet

The White Palace. Image: vwsluk [Flickr]

Jokhan Temple [wiki] is the spiritual center of Lhasa and is considered the most important and sacred temple in Tibet. The temple was built in 642 CE and has since housed the single most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism: a statue of Gautama Buddha [wiki], the founder of Buddhism.

The city of Lhasa has three concentric paths that pilgrims use to walk to Jokhang Temple. Many actually prostrate themselves along these routes in order to gain spiritual merit!

Jokhang Temple. Image: The boy with the thorn in his side [Flickr]

The courtyard of the Jokhang Temple. Image: polymerchicken [Flickr]

Two golden deers flanking a Dharma Wheel and a golden bell at the roof of Jokhang Temple. Image: satellite360 [Flickr]

Varanasi

Varanasi in India is not a temple, but ais ctually a famous Hindu holy city, located at the banks of the Ganges River. It is, however, often called the “City of Temples,” where almost every road crossing has a nearby temple. A center of pilgrimage (as many as a million pilgrims visit Varanasi each year), the city has links to Buddhism and Jainism as well.

Sunrise at the Ganges River in Varanasi. Image: ironmanix [Flickr]

Temples are everywhere in Varanasi. Image: juicyrai [Flickr]

Pilgrims believe that bathing in the Ganges River will cleanse them of sins.
Image: Jackson Lee [Flickr]

Let me be the first to acknowledge that this list is woefully incomplete. There are countless amazing temples, monasteries, and sacred places of Eastern religions scattered throughout Asia.

If your favorite temple is not included, it is not a slight – I welcome your suggestion in the comment section below.


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10 Most Amazing Lost Cities


10 Most Amazing Lost Cities

Published on 8/31/2007 under Places 243,265 views

Lost Cities were real, prosperous, well-populated areas of human habitation that fell into terminal decline and whose location was later lost. Most lost cities are found, and have been studied extensively by scientists. Here’s our list of the 10 most amazing lost cities in the world.

MACHU PICCHU (Peru): The Lost City of the Incas[Wiki]

Machu Picchu (“Old Peak”) is a pre-Columbian Inca city located at 2,430 m (7,970 ft) altitude on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, near Cusco. Machu Picchu is probably the most familiar symbol of the IncaEmpire. It is often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”. The site was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1983 when it was described as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization”.

Machu Picchu was constructed around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire, and was abandoned less than 100 years later, as the empirecollapsed under Spanish conquest. Although the citadel is located only about 50 miles from Cusco, the Inca capital, it was never found and destroyed by the Spanish, as were many other Inca sites. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle grew to enshroud the site, and few knew of its existence. In 1911, Yale historian and explorer Hiram Bingham brought the “lost” city to the world‘s attention. Bingham and others hypothesized that the citadel was the traditional birthplace of the Inca people or the spiritual center of the “virgins of the sun,” while curators of a recent exhibit have speculated that Machu Picchu was a royal retreat.

ANGKOR (Cambodia): Contains the world’s largest religious monument [Wiki]

Angkor served as the seat of the Khmer empire that flourished from approximately the 9th century to the 15th century A.D. More precisely, the Angkorian period may be defined as the period from 802 A.D., when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself the “universal monarch” and “god-king” of Cambodia, until 1431 A.D., when Thai invaders sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to the area of Phnom Penh.

The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern day Siem Reap (13°24’N, 103°51’E), and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world’s largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitor numbers approach one million annually.

In 2007 an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world with an urban sprawl of 1,150 square miles. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was roughly 50 square miles in total size.
MEMPHIS (Egypt): ancient capital of Egypt[Wiki]

Memphis was the ancient capital of the first nome of Lower Egypt, and of theOld Kingdom of Egypt from its foundation until around 2200 BC and later for shorter periods during the New Kingdom, and an administrative centre throughout ancient history. Its Ancient Egyptian name was Ineb Hedj (“The White Walls”). The name “Memphis” is the Greek deformation of theEgyptian name of Pepi I’s (6th dynasty) pyramid, Men-nefer, which became Menfe in Coptic. According to Herodotus, the city was founded around 3100 BC by Menes, who united the two kingdoms of Egypt.

Estimates of population size differ widely. According to T. Chandlerm, Memphis had some 30,000 inhabitants and was by far the largest settlement worldwide from the time of its foundation until around 2250 BC and from 1557 to 1400 BC. Memphis reached a peak of prestige under the 6th Dynasty as a centre of the cult of Ptah. It declined briefly after the 18th Dynasty with the rise of Thebes and was revived under the Persian satraps before falling firmly into second place following the foundation of Alexandria. Under the Roman Empire, Alexandria remained the most important city and Memphis remained the second city of Egypt until the establishment of Fustat (or Fostat) in 641. It was then largely abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements. It was still an imposing set of ruins in the 12th century but soon became little more than an expanse of low ruins and scattered stone. The remains of the temple of Ptah and of Apis have been uncovered at the site as well as a few statues, including two four-metre ones in alabaster of Ramesses II. The Saqqara necropolis is close to Memphis.

PETRA: stone structures carved into rocks [Wiki]

Petra (“Rock”) lies on the slope of Mount Hor (Jordan) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is famous for having many stone structures carved into the rock. The long-hidden site was revealed to the Western world by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. It was famously described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate prize-winning sonnet by John William Burgon. Burgon had not actually visited Petra, which remained accessible only to Europeans accompanied by local guides with armed escorts until afterWorld War I. The site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 when it was described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.”

Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf. Petra’s decline came rapidly under Roman rule, in large part due to the revision of sea-based trade routes. In 363 an earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled the vital water management system. The ruins of Petra were an object of curiosity in the Middle Ages and were visited by the Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the close of the 13th century. The first European to describe them was Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.

PALMYRA (Syria): the Bride of the Desert [Wiki]

Palmyra was in the ancient times an important city of central Syria. It has long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented mention of the city by its pre-Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur, is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari. Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor and there is a small newer settlement next to the ruins of the same name.

n the mid-first century, Palmyra, a wealthy and elegant city located along the caravan routes linking Persia with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria and Phoenicia, came under Roman control. During the following period of great prosperity, the Arab citizens of Palmyra adopted customs and modes of dress from both the Iranian Parthian world to the east and the Graeco-Roman west. Tadmor is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Second Book of Chronicles 8:4) as a desert city built by the King Solomon of Judea, the son of David. Palmyra was made part of the Roman province of Syria during the reign of Tiberius (14–37). It steadily grew in importance as a trade route linking Persia, India, China, and the Roman empire. In 634 the first Muslims arrived in Palmyra. The city was taken by the Muslim Arabs under Khalid ibn Walid in 636. In the 6th century, Fakhreddine al Maany castle was built on top of a mountain overlooking the oasis. The castle was surrounded by a moat, with access only available through a drawbridge. Thecity of Palmyra was kept intact. After year 800, people started abandoning the city.

POMPEII (Italy): buried by the volcano[Wiki]

Along with Herculaneum, this Roman city near modern Naples was destroyed and completely buried during a catastrophic eruption of thevolcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days on 24 August year 79. The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under many meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748.

Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

PALENQUE (Mexico): one of Mayan’s most exquisite cities [Wiki]

Palenque is an ancient Maya city near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings the Maya produced. The ancient Mayan city of Palenque, with its superb jungle setting and exquisite architecture and decoration, is one of the marvels of Mexico. First occupied around 100 BC, it flourished from about 600 to 700 AD, and what a glorious century that was. The city rose to prominence under Pakal, a club-footed king who reigned from 615 to 683 AD, represented by hieroglyphs of sun and shield, he is also referred to as Sun Shield or White Macaw. During Pakal’s reign, many plazas and buildings, including the superlative Templo de las Inscripciones (his Mausoleum), were constructed in Palenque, characterized by very fine stucco bas-reliefs.

Pakal’s son Chan-Bahlum II continued Palenque’s political and economic expansion and the development of its art and architecture and presided over the construction of the Grupo de la Cruz temples, placing sizable narrative stone stelae within each. One can see the influence of Palenque’s architecture in the Mayan city of Tikal. The rival Mayan city of Toniná’s hostility was perhaps the major factor in Palenque’s precipitous decline after Chan-Bahlum II’s death in 702. Sources speak of a devastating Toniná attack on Palenque in 730. After the 10th century Palenque was largely abandoned. In an area that receives the heaviest rainfall in Mexico, the ruins lay undiscovered until the 18th century. Frans Blom, an early-to-mid-20th century investigator remarked: ‘The first visit to Palenque is immensely impressive. When one has lived there for some time this ruined city becomes an obsession.’

VIJAYANAGAR (India): capital of one of the largest Hindu empires [Wiki]

Vijayanagar, the capital of one of the largest Hindu empires ever, was founded by Sangama dynasty princes Harihara and Bukka in 1336. Its power peaked under Krishnadevaraya (1509-29), when it controlled nearly the whole of the peninsula south of the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. Comparable to Delhi in the 14th century, the city, with an estimated population of half a million, covered 33 sq km and was surrounded by several concentric lines of fortification. Its wealth derived from the control of spice trade and the cotton industry. Its busy bazaars, described by travelers such as Portuguese Nunez and Paes, were centers of international commerce. The empire collapsed after the battle of Talikota in 1565 when the city was ransacked by the confederacy of Deccan sultans (Bidar, Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Berar), thus opening up southern India for Muslim conquest.

The ruins are set in a strange and beautiful boulder strewn landscape with an almost magical quality. The undisputed highlight, the 16th century Vittala Temple, is a World Heritage Monument. Started by Krishnadevaraya, it was never finished or consecrated; its incredible sculptural work is the pinnacle of Vijayanagar art. The outer pillars are known as musical pillars as they reverberate when tapped. An ornate stone chariot in the temple courtyard containing an image of Garuda.

EPHESUS (Turkey): one of the most important cities of early Christianity [Wiki]

Ephesus was an Ionian Greek city in ancient Anatolia, founded by colonists from Athens in the 10th century BC. The city was located in Ionia, where the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes) flows into the Aegean Sea, and was part of the Panionian League. Ephesus hosted one of the seven churches of Asia, addressed in the Book of Revelation (2:1–7). It is also the site of a large Gladiator graveyard.

Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity. Paul used it as a base. He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on the Temple of Artemis there (Acts 19:23–41), and wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus. Later Paul wrote to the Christian community at Ephesus.

SANCHI (India): the best-preserved group of Buddhist monuments [Wiki]

A UNESCO world heritage site in central India near the Betwa River, Sanchi is on a flat-topped sandstone hill, 90m above the countryside, and stands the best-preserved group of Buddhist monuments in India. Most noteworthy is the Great Stupa, discovered in 1818. It was probably begun by the emperor Asoka in the mid-3rd century BCE and later enlarged. Solid throughout, it is enclosed by a massive stone railing pierced by four gateways on which are elaborate carvings depicting the life of the Buddha.

The stupa itself consists of a base bearing a hemispherical dome representing the dome of heaven enclosing the Earth; it is surmounted by a squared rail unit, the world mountain, from which rises a mast to symbolize the cosmic axis. The mast bears umbrellas that represent the various heavens. Other remains include several smaller stupas, an assembly hall (caitya), an Asokan pillar with inscription, and several monasteries (4th–11th cent. CE). Several relic baskets and more than 400 epigraphical records have also been discovered.

New Amazon monkey species discovered in Colombia


New Amazon monkey species discovered in Colombia

Thu Aug 12, 8:04 PM

By Nancy Lopez, The Associated Press

BOGOTA – A new Amazon monkey species has been discovered in Colombia, and researchers said Thursday they believe the small, isolated population is at risk due to the cutting of forests that are its home.

The find was announced by Conservation International, a group that helped finance the research in remote rain forests that until recently were considered too dangerous for scientific work due to the presence of leftist rebels.

A team of researchers from the National University of Colombia observed 13 groups of the new species — dubbed the Caqueta titi monkey because it was found in the southern state of Caqueta, near Peru.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Primate Conservation, believe the species may be critically endangered. They estimate less than 250 of the monkeys exist and say the felling of forest for agriculture threatens their habitat.

The new variety of titi monkey, which has the scientific name Callicebus caquetensis, is the size of a cat and has greyish-brown hair. What sets it apart from other types of titi monkey species is its lack of a white bar on the forehead.

“It’s a spectacular finding,” said Jeffrey French, a biology and psychology professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who works with primates in the Amazon in Brazil.

Some formerly rebel-held regions of Colombia have become safer in recent years due to the government’s gains against guerrilla bands, facilitating efforts to search for oil and precious metals as well as flora and fauna.

The research team, including professors Thomas Defler and Marta Bueno and student Javier Garcia, visited Caqueta in 2008 — three decades after Martin Moynihan, an animal behaviour expert, first caught sight of the species in the area. Insecurity in the area prevented research to confirm his sighting until the team arrived.

The researchers say the monkeys are monogamous — unlike most primates but common among titi monkeys — and often have one baby a year. They have complex calls and were spotted often moving around in groups of four.

Juan Mayer, a former Colombian environment minister, said that due to deforestation, “huge efforts will have to be made to protect the creature’s habitat.”

Paul Garber, a primate researcher and anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, said titi monkeys play important roles in the forest, dispersing seeds, pollinating plants and helping the forest regenerate.

He said the new variety of monkey is important because it shows there are probably other undiscovered primate species in the world’s tropical forests.

“We need to provide resources to aid scientists so that these species can be identified, studied and protected,” Garber said.

World’s ugliest animal threatened with extinction


World’s ugliest animal threatened with extinction

Thu Aug 12, 4:44 PM

Michael Bolen
Yahoo! Canada News

If Charlie Brown melted like the Wicked Witch of the West and then moved to the bottom of the ocean, this is what he would look like.

Behold the blobfish, or Psychrolutes marcidus, which inhabits the deep waters off Australia and Tasmania.

The depths at which the strange fish lives helps explain its unusual appearance. Due to the enormous pressure, gas bladders become insufficient to stay afloat. Consequently, the blobfish has developed gelatinous flesh with a density less than water.

Floating around suits the blobfish nicely, as it subsists on edible particles carried by currents.

The blobfish is rarely seen by humans and encounters are usually the result of bottom trawling by fishermen, a practice that is leading to problems for many deep-water species.

Scientists now fear that overfishing may lead to extinction for the blobfish. Fishermen scraping the bottom of the sea for lucrative catches, such as crab and lobster, often catch the blobfish by mistake, putting tremendous pressure on its isolated population.

The blobfish itself is inedible and when dried out takes on a radically different appearance – as can be seen below.

The 6 biggest tattoo regrets


The 6 biggest tattoo regrets

By Joanna Douglas, Shine staff

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Whether you’re getting your first tattoo or your 20th, getting inked up is a serious commitment. You will have this artwork on your body forever, so you’ll want to be as satisfied as humanly possible with the result. Before you go rushing into the tattoo parlor, please take a moment to contemplate these major tattoo mistakes. They’re painful in more ways than one.
Don’t forget to tune into the new season of “LA Ink” premiering Wednesday, August 11 at 10pm/9pm Central on TLC. Click here for more info.

Tribute to your significant other



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Many people even consider a name tattoo to be a jinx: passion may be fleeting, but that “Billy Bob” tattoo may serve as a permanent reminder of your failed relationship. Just ask Angelina, who decided to remove and cover up the ink on her arm. Surely there are other powerful ways to express your feelings… like carrying a vile of each other’s blood around your necks. Er, nevermind.

Misspelling your tattoo

(Photo: DailyTattooTips.com)

It sounds obvious, but be sure both you and your tattoo artist have spell-checked any words that may be written in ink. We all are capable of spelling errors, but this would be one painful and expensive typo to fix!

Not knowing the true meaning of your tattoo



(Photo: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Tattoos in different languages have become increasingly popular over the years, but before you make it permanent, be sure you’ve triple-checked the characters with someone who can verify the language. Britney Spears is a great example of a celeb who didn’t do her homework. This neck tattoo was supposed to mean “new life” in Hebrew, but the characters were written out of order, which makes it meaningless. The kanji tattoo she received on her hip was intended to read “mysterious” but it translates as “strange.” As in, it’s strange that a person wouldn’t know what they’re getting tattooed on their body.

Trendy placement on the body

(Photo: Getty Images)

While a lower back tattoo (aka “tramp stamp”) may seem cool now, you may not want a little dragon poking out of your jeans later on in life.

Underestimating your pain threshold


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Even the most hardcore tattoo fanatics often complain about areas that hurt more than others, so inquire beforehand. A little ink on your foot may seem out of the way and harmless, but with very little flesh in the area it can be a painful spot.

Getting tattoos with no personal significance


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Tribal tattoos and arm bands are some of the most popular designs, but before getting one etched into your skin, think about if a piece of jewelry might suffice. Intricate designs are cool to look at, but you might consider something that holds greater meaning to you with a story behind it.

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279 Comments

1. Posted by Dishy Duchess. on Sat, Aug 14, 2010

I’m a nurse and believe me, sagging and loose skin in the aged looks.. well, loose and saggy. The tattoos fade and go all blue and the lines merge. Ummm, I’m thinking, you’re not looking so ‘cool’ now. Plus, stuck with the same image from young to old… how unoriginal after time. Those ‘tramp stamps’ are going to look hilarious on the 70 year old women!

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2. Posted by Bruce F on Fri, Aug 13, 2010

You won’t find ANY tattoos in magazines like say, Success Magazine, or Fortune Magazine. Denotes a certain class in the REAL world. That’s just the way it is.

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3. Posted by L S on Fri, Aug 13, 2010

I think tattoos are a waste of money, and most don’t even look that good. To me they are body graffiti, not so bad if they could be painted over or washed off when you were tired of them, but you can’t, they are permanent.

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4. Posted by Rolf W on Fri, Aug 13, 2010

I never even thought to mark up my body with tatoos or piercings. period.

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5. Posted by Terry G on Fri, Aug 13, 2010

“truenorth” Racism comes in many forms and the dislike of one group of people because they are different to you is racism. It seems you are the ignorant one as you refuse to accept that people with tattoos could be the same as you.

Man punches polar bear, escapes attack


Man punches polar bear, escapes attack

Fri Aug 13, 4:43 PM

By The Canadian Press

Wes Werbowy can still see the polar bear’s head pressed up against his tent’s mosquito netting.

“I wish I could find an artist to capture this image in my mind,” says Werbowy, who survived a recent up-close-and-personal encounter with a polar bear with the help of an old Inuit trick.

“It is burned into my brain — the eyes peering and the ears flat and the head about as big as a bushel basket jammed right toward your face.

“There was just this implacable stare for a thousandth of a second. And I thought, well, it’s my day to die.”

Werbowy was camping on the tundra outside of Whale Cove, Nunavut, on July 16 with three Inuk hunters he was training to be outfitters and tour guides. The party had set up camp with separate sleeping and cooking tents to minimize the bear hazard, but one large male bear didn’t take the hint.

A light sleeper, Werbowy says he was awakened shortly after 3 a.m. in the pre-dawn Arctic twilight by a sound he didn’t want to hear.

“I can hear a bear inhaling with a snuffling sound,” he says. “They do that when they’re on the trail of a quarry — and it’s right outside my tent.”

He’d left his shotgun at the front of the tent. Werbowy started to unzip his sleeping bag.

“The bear heard that zipper. And that, to him, was the sound of food being unwrapped.

“There’s no describing the beginning of the apparition. He was just there — it was instantaneous. I’ve got a thousand pounds of bear, standing on my firearm, his face collapsing the screening of my tent right toward me where I’m still in my sleeping bag and staring at this black nose about two feet from my face.”

That’s when he remembered some words of wisdom an Inuit elder had once shared. The most sensitive part of a polar bear is his nose and if all else fails, take a swing at it.

That’s what Werbowy did.

“I came up off the mat with as strong a fist as I could throw and I punched him as hard as I could right on the nose. It was like hitting a bag of thawed hamburger. It was just this tremendous resounding splat.

“Instantaneously, he just changed ends and vanished.”

Werbowy climbed out of his tent and woke his companions. Simon Enuapik was the first one out.

“I just ran to him with this great big grin and said, ‘Simon, shake my hand. I’ve just punched a polar bear right in the nose!'” Werbowy recalls.

James Enuapik, Simon’s brother, was also in the second tent.

“We tried tracking the bear but it was so foggy,” Enuapik says. “Wes was so excited that he punched a polar bear.”

Werbowy admits it.

“I was on a high that’s very difficult to describe. And duplicate.”

Enuapik says the area where they were camping is known for polar bears.

“Every camping trip, people encounter a polar bear now,” he says. “This past winter I’ve been hunting seals, I’ve seen fresh bear tracks every trip I went.”

He says the trick that saved Werbowy’s life is well-known to Inuit hunters.

“My uncle fought a bear three times. The three encounters he had with a bear, he always would punch its nose. It’s the most sensitive part of the polar bear.”

Werbowy is just pleased that both he and the bear escaped the encounter unhurt.

“I’ve just won a life lottery. And so did the bear.”