Hanging Temple

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Hanging Temple

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hanging Temple, also Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Temple (simplified Chinese: 悬空寺; traditional Chinese: 懸空寺; pinyin:Xuánkōng Sì) is a temple built into a cliff (75 m or 246 ft above the ground) near Mount Heng in Hunyuan County, Datong City, Shanxiprovince, China. The closest city is Datong, 64.23 kilometers to the northwest. Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. Built more than 1,500 years ago, this temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing temple with the combination of three Chinese traditional religions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The structure is kept in place with oak crossbeams fitted into holes chiseled into the cliffs. The main supportive structure is hidden inside the bedrock. The monastery is located in the small canyon basin, and the body of the building hangs from the middle of the cliff under the prominent summit, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight. Coupled with the repair of the dynasties, the color tattoo in the temple is relatively well preserved. On December 2010, it was listed in the “Time” magazine as the world’s top ten most odd dangerous buildings.

According to legend, construction of the temple was started at the end of the Northern Wei dynasty by only one man, a monk named Liao Ran (了然). Over the next 1,400 years, many repairs and extensions have led to its present-day scale.

“壯觀” means “spectacular”

Thunder Hall

Mahavira Hall


http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/precariously-hanging-monastery-mount-heng-003157….. Below … :

The Hanging Monastery of Mount Heng

The Precariously Hanging Monastery of Mount Heng

Hengshan, or Mount Heng, which is located in Shanxi province, is one of China’s Five Great Mountains. Pinned to the side of its cliff face is the Xuan Kong Si, also known as the Hanging Monastery.  Despite its precarious position, the monastery has been ‘hanging’ in its original position for more than 1,500 years, a testament to the ingenuity of its builders.

The Hanging Monastery is said to have been built in 491 AD, during the late Northern Wei Dynasty. It is commonly believed that the building of the monastery was initiated by a single individual, a monk by the name of Liao Ran. In time, however, Liao Ran received help from Taoist builders, who were drawn to the site due to its peaceful and serene atmosphere. The site was perfect for those engaged in meditation, as noises from the ground did not reach such lofty heights. In addition, its height ensured that the monastery was safe from floods. The Hanging Monastery is also protected from rain, snow and sun as it is sheltered by the mountain’s peak. This is one of the reasons for the monastery’s continual existence over the centuries.Xuan Kong Si, The Hanging Monastery

Xuan Kong Si, The Hanging Monastery (Wikimedia Commons)

In order to provide support for the monastery, holes were first drilled into the side of the cliff. Wooden pillars were then half inserted into the rock as the foundation. The monastery was then built on top of these pillars, with additional support from the rock at the back of the building. Some have claimed that the wooden pillars were not present when the monastery was being built, and that the building would be able to support itself should the pillars be taken away. The pillars, it is further claimed, were added later on, as visitors did not dare climb up to the monastery for fear that it would fall. It was subsequently enlarged over the centuries, and was also restored in 1900 during the Qing Dynasty.The wooden pillars supporting the monastery

The wooden pillars supporting the monastery (Wikimedia Commons)

Apart from being an architectural marvel, the Hanging Monastery is also a unique structure from a religious point of view. The monastery is dedicated to three religious systems – Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, all of which co-exist harmoniously in the building. In the San Jiao Hall, for instance, the statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha is enshrined together with that of Lao Zi and Confucius. These are the founders of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism respectively, their existence side-by-side showing the harmony between the three systems in this sacred space.

Statues inside the hanging monastery reflect different religious traditions (Wikimedia Commons)

It has been claimed that the Hanging Monastery once served as a sort of ‘transit station’ for travellers who passed through the area, due to the remote nature of the Hengshan area. It was at this place that weary traveller could get a meal and some rest before setting out again. Due to the prevalence of religion at the time, it is said that people were reluctant to enter the places of worship of religions other than their own. To ease these travellers’ anxiety, the three major religions of China were enshrined in the Hanging Monastery. In this way, more travellers could stay at the monastery for a while before resuming their journey.The Hanging Monastery near Mount Heng, China

The Hanging Monastery near Mount Heng, China (Wikimedia Commons)

Throughout the monastery, there are about 80 sculptures of important Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian individuals. These figures are made of various materials, including copper, bronze, iron, terracotta and stone, and are carved vividly. In the San Sheng Hall, for example, there is a seated statue of the Buddha. At his sides are a number of his disciples, portrayed as standing submissively to their master. There are six main halls and 34 lesser halls, making a total of 40 halls, in the monastery. These halls are linked by a maze of passageways.

Today, the Hanging Monastery is probably not the best site for meditation due to its transformation into a tourist attraction. Its seemingly impossible engineering alone has attracted numerous people to see the Hanging Monastery for themselves. Others are perhaps inspired by the co-existence of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Nevertheless, the precarious position of the structure is certain to cause some to think twice before visiting the Hanging Monastery, and a trip there is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Featured image: The Hanging Monastery of China. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Ḏḥwty


Brenhouse, H., 2010. Precarious Buildings: Xuan Kong Si, Shanxi Province, China. [Online]
Available here.

famouswonders.com, 2015. Hanging Monastery of Hengshan. [Online]
Available at: http://famouswonders.com/hanging-monastery-of-hengshan

Josh, 2015. Hanging Temple of Hengshan. [Online]
Available at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hanging-temple-hengshan

Ministry of Culture, P. R. China, 2003. Hanging Temple. [Online]
Available at: http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_travel/2003-09/24/content_32449.htm

Song, C., 2014. Hanging Monastery. [Online]
Available at: http://www.chinahighlights.com/datong/attraction/hanging-monastery.htm

Travelmail Reporter, 2014. Defying gravity: The spectacular Hanging Temple in China that has been suspended 246-feet above ground for 1,500 years. [Online]
Available here.

www.travelchinaguide.com, 2015. Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si). [Online]
Available at: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shanxi/datong/hanging.htm

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These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

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These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

 VINCZE MIKLÓS  http://io9.com/these-mega-sculptures-are-the-biggest-in-the-world-1468095522

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

They’re the very definition of monumental. These sculptures are the most enormous you’ll ever see in the world. They’re both insane and utterly magnificent.

The 420 ft or 128 m (including its 66 ft or 20 m high lotus throne) tall Spring Temple Buddha in the Fodushan Scenic Area, Zhaocun, China, built in 2002.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

The statue looks even taller because of the three pedestals added few years after its completion. The total height of the complex is now 682 ft or 208 m.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the WorldThese Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via World WonderingRed Tree Times and Grandstroy)

The Laykyun Setkyar, a standing Buddha statue on a 44 ft (13.5 m) throne, Khatakan Taung, Myanmar. Built by Chief Abbot Ven. Nãradã, constructed between 1996 and 2008. The statue has a height of 381 ft (116 m).

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

There is a smaller reclining Buddha right in front of the standing one, and there are thousands of Buddhism-themed painting and small sculptures inside the big one and around the complex.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Patrick M. Loeff and Tun Tun’s Photo Diary)

The giant, 348 ft (106 m) high mythical emperors Yan and Huang in Zhengzhou, China, constructed for two decades, completed in 2007.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Eyepress/Associated Press)

Peter the Great statue, a 315 ft (96 m) high monument designed by Zurab Tsereteli, erected in 1997.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

It was allegedly based on an idea for a statue of Christopher Colombus, according to a story published in Washington Post three years ago, but it may be an urban legend only:

Peter started out as an idea for a statue of Christopher Columbus that Tsereteli pitched to U.S. cities in 1992 in remembrance of the great voyage 500 years earlier. Over the years, Baltimore, New York and others – even Columbus, Ohio – turned him down, and Tsereteli eventually persuaded Puerto Rico to accept his model. Meanwhile, he busied himself designing Peter, who looked very much like Columbus, but with a different head.

(via Adam Baker)

The 279 ft (87 m) tall Motherland Calls (or The Mamayev Monument), commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943, designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich and Nikolai Nikitin, erected Volgograd, Russia, 1967

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

The 200 steps from the bottom of the hill to the monument are symbolizing the 200 days of the battle. The figure itself measures 170 ft (52 m) and has a 108 ft (33 m) long sword.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Martha de Jong-Lantink and pds209)

The Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world and the largest pre-modern statue with its height of 233 ft (71 m), carved out of a cliff face between 713 and 803 AD, near Leshan, China

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the WorldThese Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Wikimedia Commons and Kjell Tjensvoll)

Mother of the Motherland, a part of Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev, Ukraine, built between 1979 and 1981.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

The 203 ft (62 m) tall stainless steel statue with a 52 ft (16 m) long sword and a 43 by 26 ft (13 by 8 m) shield with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union was designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich and stands upon a 131 ft (40 m) high museum building. Its total height is 335 ft (102 m).

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Jorge Láscar and Vadim Mahorov)

The 160 ft (49 m) tall African Renaissance Monument, a bronze statue outside of Dakar, Senegal, designed by the Senegalese Pierre Goudiaby, constructed by the North Korea-based Mansudae Overseas Projects between 2008 and 2010.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Jeff Attaway and Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

A 157 ft (48 m) tall statue of a Samantabhadra at the summit of Mount Emei, Sichuan, China, 2005

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The tallest sculpture of the Virgin Mary in the world in Trujillo, Venezuela. It’s 153 ft (46.7 m) high and sculpted by Manuel de la Fuente in 1983.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, a 131 ft (40 m) tall Genghis Khan on horseback, 33 miles east of the capital Ulaanbaatar, designed by architect J. Enkhjargal and sculptor D. Erdenebileg, 2008

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

It’s on the top of a visitor centre with 36 columns representing the 36 khans of the Borjigin clan who ruled the Mongols from Chakhar.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the WorldThese Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via uzoranet)

The 123 ft. (37 m) tall Shiva of Murudeshwara, India, completed in 2006

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the WorldThese Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the WorldThese Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

(via Thejas Panarkandy and Sunil)

The 105 ft. (32 m) tall Hanuman of Nandura, India

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

Lord Hanuman was one of the Vānaras, a group of monkey-like shapeshifter humanoids with supernatural powers in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

(via Surabhi Dhake)

Bonus: India wants to build the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity. It will be a 597 feet (182 m, without base) tall tribute to Sardar Patel.

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

These Mega-Sculptures Are the Biggest in the World

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (or just Sardar, which means Chief) was the first Home Minister (the head of the Ministry of Home Affairs) and Deputy Prime Minister of post-independence India from 15 August 1947 to his death in December 15,1950. The foundation stone of the 790 ft high statue (240 metros, with base) was laid on Sardar’s birthday on the 31st of October, three weeks ago, according to the International Business Times.

(via Statue of Unity)

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia

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The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia 

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia

The St. Naum monastery in Macedonia is located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, close to the Albanian border. It was named after its founder and one of the most respected and well-known saints in Bulgaria and Macedonia.


Life and work of St. Naum, which was a historical person, is described in several literary works. This church is one of the ascetic of the founders of the Bulgarian religious literature. In addition, there is a legend that says that St. Naum had the gift of healing the sick. Macedonians believe that ear to the sarcophagus with the relics of the ascetic, and now you can hear the beating of his heart.

The St. Naum monastery founded in 905. The architectural design of the building, as far as it was able to recreate the excavations, quite unusual. The monastery was designed as a shamrock. There are no accurate data on the time of destruction of the building, but, apparently, this was before the arrival of the Turks in Macedonia.

The existing church was rebuilt in the XVI century during the Ottoman period. The building itself is transformed, acquired from the cross-shaped structure with a dome. And while in 1875 due to the strong fire much of the building burned to the ground, the monastery still survives in this form. The relics of St. Naum buried in a private room in the southern part of the monastery. Numerous frescoes and ancient church decorations have not survived to our time, but there are pictures in the convent, dating from the beginning of the tenth century.

The Saint Naum Monastery Photo Gallery

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Exterior

The Exterior

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Landscape

The Saint Naum, Macedonia Landscape

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Landscape

The Monastery, Macedonia Landscape

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia wharf

The Monastery’s wharf

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Church

The Church

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Church

The Church

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Murals

The Monastery’s Murals

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Murals

The Monastery’s Murals

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Murals

The Monastery’s Murals

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia outdoors

The Monastery’s outdoors

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Label

The Label

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Murals

The Murals

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia Architecture

The Architecture

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia outdoors

The Monastery outdoors

Peacock in the courtyard of the monastery

Peacock in the courtyard of the monastery

The Saint Naum Monastery, Macedonia outdoors

The Monastery outdoors

World’s prettiest castles

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World’s prettiest castles

U.S. NewsBy Risa Seidman | U.S. News – Thu, Jun 6, 2013 4:25 PM EDT


(Photo: S.Borisov / Shutterstock)

Gone are the days of kings and queens ruling the populace from on high (in most of the world, anyway). But while many monarchs have fallen, their palaces remain as permanent — and beautiful — testaments to their rulers’ transient power. From the fairy-tale spires of German castles to the delicate wooden eaves of Japanese feudal strongholds, these royal dwellings have prevailed long after their original residents abandoned them. We’ve rounded up 10 inspiring castles that captivate travelers with their stunning architecture and fascinating royal histories.

The Alhambra
Granada, Spain

From its perch atop al-Sabika hill in Granada (about 260 miles south of Madrid), the Alhambra served as an ideal military fortress thanks to its isolated location and coveted views of the surrounding area. The palace didn’t become a true royal residence until Muhammed I, the first sultan of the Nasrid Dynasty, arrived in the 13th century. As new sultans came and went, the Alhambra continued to grow. Yusuf I built the Justice Tower in 1348 to serve as the castle’s grand arched gateway. Yusuf’s successor, Muhammed V, commissioned the Patio of the Lions, which is still famed today for its lion-shaped fountain and Islamic architecture. However, Muslim rule in southern Spain faded quickly. In 1492, Sultan Muhammed XII surrendered the Alhambra to Spanish King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor (and Ferdinand and Isabella’s grandson), began a renovation of the Alhambra in 1527. But the older designs still shine through, especially in the Hall of the Moors with its carved ceiling and elegant cupola.

(Photo: Yuri Yavnik / Shutterstock)

Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto, Japan

Built in 1504 during the Sengoku (Japan’s civil war period), Matsumoto Castle was originally designed as a small fortress. It wasn’t until Japan’s unification under the Tokugawa shogunate in the early 17th century that Matsumoto Castle was refashioned into the three-turreted structure we see today. Matsumoto was built to withstand enemy attack, but by the time it was assembled around 1595, Japan’s wars were drawing to a close. Matsumoto was never attacked, which is probably why its 95-foot-tall tower is Japan’s longest-standing inner tower. Visitors to Matsumoto — which sits about 44 miles southwest of Nagano in central Japan — can marvel at the castle’s black walls and swooping, tiered eaves that earned it the nickname Crow Castle (Karasu-jo in Japanese). Plus, a peek out the fifth- or sixth-floor windows affords sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains. Meanwhile, the landscaped grounds below burst with gorgeous cherry, azalea and wisteria blossoms in the spring.

(Photo: Jose Ignacio Soto /Shutterstock)

Château de Versailles
Versailles, France

When French King Louis XIII originally established Château de Versailles in 1631, it was just a hunting lodge situated about 15 miles west of Paris. It was his son, King Louis XIV, who expanded Versailles into a sprawling palace complex between 1661 and 1710. Each king who lived at Versailles added his own personal touch to the palace. In the 1670s, Louis XIV installed the resplendent Hall of Mirrors, with its intricate glasswork and chandeliers. And in 1774, Louis XVI gave his wife Marie Antoinette an expansive private estate, tucked away in Versailles’ lush gardens. The French monarchy remained at Versailles until 1789, when an uprising connected to the French Revolution forced the regents to flee to Paris. In the years that followed the Revolution, Versailles served many purposes, acting as a lavish retreat for Napoleon Bonaparte, a French history museum (opened by King Louis-Philippe in 1837) and the staging ground for the Treaty of Versailles. Today, the palace is one of France’s top tourist sites, luring millions of visitors each year.

(Photo: Andrey Tirakhov/Shutterstock)

Catherine Palace
Pushkin, Russia

When he commissioned this architectural wonder for his wife, Catherine I, in 1717, Russian Tsar Peter the Great envisioned Catherine Palace to be a modest, two-story affair. However, visitors to this enormous blue, white and gold structure in Pushkin (situated about 20 miles south of St. Petersburg) will tell you there is nothing modest about it. That’s because Peter’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth of Russia, had the entire palace redesigned in 1743 in an effort to create a structure extravagant enough to rival Versailles. The result: a 1,066-foot-long Rococo-style fortress featuring a stucco facade gilded with more than 220 pounds of gold. The palace’s interior is just as grand. Its Great Hall, or Hall of Light, comprises nearly 10,764 square feet. Meanwhile, the palace’s famous Amber Room that was once adorned with nearly 12,000 pounds of amber gems. When Empress Elizabeth’s niece, Catherine II (Catherine the Great), ascended the Russian throne in 1762, she remodeled the palace once again. Catherine found her aunt’s tastes to be outdated, referring to the palace’s showy flourishes as “whipped cream.” Catherine II implemented the less-gaudy Classical style, which is best exhibited in the symmetrical lines of the Green Dining Room and the Blue Drawing Room.

(Photo: Yuri Yavnik / Shutterstock)

Neuschwanstein Castle
Schwangau, Germany

Commissioned in 1868, Neuschwanstein Castle was built to serve as German King Ludwig II’s secluded Bavarian retreat. However, on the eve of the king’s mysterious death nearly 18 years after the first brick of his domicile was laid, the mountaintop castle was far from completion — much of it was still shrouded in scaffolding. Construction on Neuschwanstein continued until 1892, though the architect simplified many of Ludwig’s more ambitious designs. But the castle is far from simplistic: The Romanesque Revival spires and turrets seem as though they were lifted directly from a fairy tale. (In fact, Neuschwanstein inspired Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland.) Nowadays, Neuschwanstein Castle welcomes 1.4 million visitors a year, many of whom make the roughly 75-mile drive southwest from Munich to wander its halls.

(Photo: Waj / Shutterstock)

Hawa Mahal
Jaipur, India

In 1799, Indian Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh had the Hawa Mahal built in Jaipur so that the women in his court could have a clandestine spot to admire the festivities in the market square below. (In those days, royal Indian women observed Purdah, which forbade them from going out in public or being seen by strangers.) The red and pink-hued sandstone edifice’s name translates to “The Palace of the Winds,” which refers to the westward breezes that blow across the 593 windows gracing the palace’s latticed facade. Today, the palace isn’t restricted to royal ladies: Tourists can peer through the palace’s famous windows, soak up the breathtaking views of the city from the top and explore the small royal museum within. However, the best views of the palace are still from street level — sunrise bathes the front wall of the palace in golden light from the rising sun, so plan on arriving early if you’re looking to capture stunning photos.

(Photo: Evan Meyer/Shutterstock)

Hearst Castle
San Simeon, Calif.

Beginning in 1919, newspaper and publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst began laying the groundwork for his dream home atop a hill in San Simeon, Calif., about 100 miles south of Monterey. Although it was never officially completed (Hearst had to leave the property in 1947 because of health problems), Hearst Castle stands as a 165-room icon of American entrepreneurship and wealth. The mansion — and its three spacious adjacent “cottages” — served as Hearst’s playground, where he entertained numerous members of the Hollywood elite, among other guests. The state of California now owns the property, and visitors to San Simeon can take daily tours. “Cottage & Kitchen” tours cover Hearst’s two outdoor swimming pools, tickets to Hearst Castle Theater and a viewing of Hearst’s enormous wine cellar. Visitors can also learn about the mélange of architecture styles the mansion features, including Spanish, Italian, Moorish and French detailing. And art history buffs will want to check out the Hearst Castle’s collection of fine art, which includes Antonio Canova’s The Three Graces statue and a marble sarcophagus depicting the nine muses that dates back to the 3rd century A.D.

(Photo: Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock)

Grand Palace
Bangkok, Thailand

When King Rama I seized power of Siam in 1782, he set to work building a palace in central Bangkok that would serve as the official residence of Chakri Dynasty kings. Although the current King Rama IX no longer lives here (and all government offices moved elsewhere after the Siamese Revolution of 1932), the Grand Palace still stands as one of Bangkok’s most visited — and most picturesque — landmarks. Visitors to the Grand Palace can snap photos of the glittering gold spires and other impressive gilded structures. Perhaps the most remarkable feature is Wat Phra Kaew, or the Emerald Buddha Temple, which is named for the green Buddha statue on top of its gold altar (though the Buddha is actually made of jadeite, not emeralds). Further along, visitors will see Rama I’s library with its mother-of-pearl doors and the Buddhist texts within. And throughout the tour, you’ll notice an eclectic mix of architecture and building techniques, including Asian styles like Ayutthaya, Sri Lankan and Thai, as well as Western influences from England, Italy and France.

(Jose Ignacio Soto/Shutterstock)

Château de Chambord
Chambord, France

The elaborate Château de Chambord, located in the French countryside about 111 miles south of Paris, was never designed for sensible living. The heating and upkeep of the castle alone were so arduous that the French royal family only spent summers and short retreats here; the structure and grounds were used mainly for hunting and entertainment purposes. What Château de Chambord lacks in practicality, though, it makes up for in stunning architecture. King François I began building the Château in 1519; the palace features a magnificent — and baffling — double spiral staircase, which allows one person to ascend and another to descend without meeting each other on the way (some speculate that the Château and its staircase were designed by Leonardo da Vinci, who was under the king’s patronage at the time). Outside, Château de Chambord’s roof is a marvel in itself, with intricate turrets and cupolas reminiscent of an Italian city skyline. While visitors today can behold Château de Chambord’s architectural wonders, textile lovers might be disappointed; all of the palace’s original furniture was stolen during the French Revolution.

(Photo: Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock)

Smithsonian Castle
Washington, D.C.

Although built in the Norman style (a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture from the 12th century), Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Castle was finished as recently as 1855. The sandstone building became the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, of which there are now 20 around D.C. and in New York (including the National Zoo). But back in 1855, the castle stood alone on a plot of downtown D.C. earth that was to become the National Mall. The castle’s east wing housed Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, along with his wife and three daughters. And since none of the Smithsonian museums had been constructed yet, the Smithsonian’s collections also called the castle home. It wasn’t until 1881, with the erection of the U.S. National Museum (now called the Arts and Industries Building) next door, that the Smithsonian’s arts and sciences collections began to expand. Today, the castle accommodates the Smithsonian Institution’s administrative offices — but the castle’s bureaucratic status doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Those traveling to Washington, D.C. can admire the Smithsonian Castle’s red towers, turrets and arches from the National Mall. Venture inside to see the castle’s tall windows and skylights in action, as they flood the lecture halls and galleries with ample natural light.



Labrang Monastery

Post 3379

Labrang Monastery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others.

Labrang Monastery (Tibetan: Wylie: bla-brang bkra-shis-‘khyil; Chinese: 拉卜楞寺 Pinyin: lābǔlèng sì) is one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its formal name is: Gandan Shaydrup Dargay Tashi Gyaysu Khyilway Ling (dGe ldan bshad sgrub dar rgyas bkra shis gyas su ‘khyil ba’i gling), commonly known as Labrang Tashi Khyil, or simply Labrang.

Labrang is located in Xiahe County in Gansu province, in the traditional Tibetan area of Amdo. Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region. Xiahe is located about 4 hours from the city of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu.

In the early part of the 20th century, Labrang was by far the largest and most influential monastery in Amdo. It is located on the Sangchu or Xiahe River a tributary of the Huang He or Yellow River.

Labrang Monastery is located in the town of Xiahe, which belongs to the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.


The monastery was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang ZhaypaNgawang Tsondru. It is Tibetan Buddhism’s most important monastery town outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Labrang Monastery is situated at the strategic intersection of four major Asian cultures—Tibetan, Mongolian, Han Chinese, and Chinese Muslim—was one of the largest Buddhist monastic universities. In the early 20th century, it housed several thousand monks. Labrang was also a gathering point for numerous annual religious festivals, supported an active regional marketplace where Han Chinese artisans rubbed shoulders with Hui merchants and nomadic Tibetan highlanders, and was the seat of a Tibetan power base that strove to maintain regional autonomy through the shifting alliances and bloody conflicts that took place between 1700 and 1950.

In April 1985 the Assembly Hall burned down. It was replaced and the new building was consecrated in 1990.


Young monk and prayer wheels



Circling a stupa

The monastery complex dominates the northern part of the village. The white walls and golden roofs feature a blend of Tibetan and Han architectural styles. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a golden stupa, a sutra debate area, and houses nearly 60,000 sutras. There once were more than 2,000 monks in residence, but now only 500, due to a twelve year closure starting in 1958. It has a Buddhist museum with a large collection of Buddha statues, sutras and murals. In addition, a large amount of Tibetan language books, including books on history is available for purchase, together with medicines, calendars, music and art objects.

The sunrise bathes the Labrang Monastery (Laboleng Si) in golden sunlight.


There used to be a great golden statue of the Buddha, more than 50 feet high, which was surrounded by rows of surrounding Buddhas in niches.

The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist ceremonies and activities. From January 4 to 17 and June 26, to July 15, (these dates may change according to the lunar calendar), the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutraenchanting, praying, sutra debates, etc.

The Labrang Monastery is surrounded on all sides by walls covered in prayer wheels, kept spinning by pious pilgrims.

The Labrang Monastery is surrounded on all sides by walls covered in prayer wheels, kept spinning by pious pilgrims.http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3595

Muslim Ma clique attacks on Labrang

The Chinese Muslim Ma Clique under Generals Ma Qi and Ma Bufang launched several attacks against Labrang as part of a general anti Tibetan campaign.

Ma Qi occupied Labrang monastery in 1917, the first time non-Tibetans had seized it. Ma Qi defeated the Tibetan forces with his Hui Chinese troops. His forces were praised by foreigners who traveled through Qinghai for their fighting abilities.

A group of young monks circumambulate clockwise around one of Labrang's many temples in a show of spiritual devotion.

A group of young monks circumambulate clockwise around one of Labrang’s many temples in a show of spiritual devotion. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3644_001

After ethnic rioting between Hui and Tibetans emerged in 1918, Ma Qi defeated the Tibetans. He heavily taxed the town for 8 years. In 1925, a Tibetan rebellion broke out, with thousands of Tibetans driving out the Hui. Ma Qi responded with 3,000 Hui Chinese troops, who retook Labrang and machine gunned thousands of Tibetan monks as they tried to flee. During a 1919 attack by Muslim forces, monks were executed by burning. Bodies were left strewn around Labrang by the Hui troops.

A close-up of one of Labrang's most beautiful temples.

A close-up of one of Labrang’s most beautiful temples. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3629

Ma Qi besieged Labrang numerous times, the Tibetans and Mongols fought against his Hui forces for control of Labrang, until Ma Qi gave it up in 1927.However, that was not the last Labrang saw of General Ma. Ma Qi launched a genocidal war against the TibetanNgoloks, in 1928, inflicting a defeat upon them and seizing the Labrang Buddhist monastery.The Hui forces looted and ravaged the monastery again.

Three photos taken in the courtyard of Labrang's main temple showing 1) two lone monks beginning prayer chants, 2) many monks standing up and entering the temple in response to the blowing of conch shells from above, and 3) the pile of boots left outside when the monks had entered the temple.

Three photos taken in the courtyard of Labrang’s main temple showing 1) two lone monks beginning prayer chants, 2) many monks standing up and entering the temple in response to the blowing of conch shells from above, and 3) the pile of boots left outside when the monks had entered the temple. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/labrang_gansu_threeshots

The Austrian American explorer Joseph Rock encountered the aftermath of one of the Ma clique’s campaigns against Labrang. The Ma Muslim army left Tibetan skeletons scattered over a wide area, and the Labrang monastery was decorated with decapitated Tibetan heads. After the 1929 battle of Xiahe near Labrang, decapitated Tibetan heads were used as ornaments by Chinese Muslim troops in their camp, 154 in total. Rock described “young girls and children”‘s heads staked around the military encampment. Ten to fifteen heads were fastened to the saddle of every Muslim cavalryman. The heads were “strung about the walls of the Moslem garrison like a garland of flowers.

A long row of monks sitting inside Labrang's main temple.

A long row of monks sitting inside Labrang’s main temple. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3685

Recent events

In March 2008 there were protests by monks from Labrang Monastery as well as by other ethnic Tibetans linked to previous protests and rioting that broke out in Lhasa.

Beautiful wall painting behind a display of arrows and prayer flags.

Beautiful wall painting behind a display of arrows and prayer flags. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3648

A lone pilgrim circumambulates one of Labrang's white stupas while a lone bird flies overhead.

A lone pilgrim circumambulates one of Labrang’s white stupas while a lone bird flies overhead.http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3652

A donkey cart laden with fragrant incense branches behind a monk with cellphone.

A donkey cart laden with fragrant incense branches behind a monk with cellphone. http://china.notspecial.org/gallery/labrang/DSCN3687

The outdoor market just outside of Labrang's main entrance shows a wide variety of Xiahe's inhabitants.

The outdoor market just outside of Labrang’s main entrance shows a wide variety of Xiahe’s inhabitants.


A monk video-conferencing with a friend in one of Xiahe's suprisingly high-quality Internet cafes.

A monk video-conferencing with a friend in one of Xiahe’s suprisingly high-quality Internet cafes.


The Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk Sect (the Yellow Sect) of the Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered to be home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region. (Source: china.org.cn)




From http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/new-images-tibet-depict-self-immolation-dorje-rinchen-labrang-today-and-aftermath

23 October, 2012
International Campaign for Tibet

New images from Tibet depict self-immolation of Dorje Rinchen in Labrang today and aftermath

A remarkable new set of images from Labrang today depict the self-immolation of Dorje Rinchen and its aftermath, showing the Tibetan farmer running down the street ablaze, and a buildup of troops in confrontation with local people trying to protect Dorje Rinchen.

The self-immolation of Dorje Rinchen has been confirmed by the Chinese state media today (October 23) and is the second self-immolation at Labrang in eastern Tibet in two days.

[ WARNING: Graphic images below ]

Dorje Rinchen

Dorje Rinchen ablaze after he set fire to himself today (October 23).

Dorje Rinchen

Dorje Rinchen collapses to the ground in Labrang.

Dorje Rinchen

Troops are seen closing in on Dorje Rinchen’s body after he has self-immolated. Smoke can still be seen arising from his body and it is not clear if he was still alive at this point. Laypeople and monks are trying to protect him from being taken away by troops. In Tibetan tradition, it is important to protect the body of someone who has died for religious ritual and offerings in order to ensure an auspicious rebirth. Since the self-immolations began in Tibet in 2009, many Tibetans have taken great risks to retrieve the bodies of those who have self-immolated in order to carry out religious practice.

Dorje Rinchen

Troops are seen closing in on Dorje Rinchen’s body after he has self-immolated. Smoke can still be seen arising from his body and it is not clear if he was still alive at this point. Laypeople and monks are trying to protect him from being taken away by troops. In Tibetan tradition, it is important to protect the body of someone who has died for religious ritual and offerings in order to ensure an auspicious rebirth. Since the self-immolations began in Tibet in 2009, many Tibetans have taken great risks to retrieve the bodies of those who have self-immolated in order to carry out religious practice.

Dorje Rinchen

A women looks at the burned body of Dorje Rinchen following his self-immolation. (Faces blurred by ICT)

Dorje Rinchen

Armed police in riot gear block a road near the site of the self-immolation.

Yungang Grottoes

Post 3207

Yungang Grottoes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cell murals and statues in the Yungang Grottoes

The Yungang Grottoes (simplified Chinese: 云冈石窟; traditional Chinese: 雲崗石窟; pinyin: Yúngāng Shíkū; Wuzhoushan Grottoes in ancient time) are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi. They are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture and one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. The others are Longmen and Mogao.

The site is located about 16 km south-west of the city of Datong, in the valley of the Shi Li river at the base of the Wuzhou Shan mountains. They are an outstanding example of the Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. All together the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site The Yungang Grottoes is considered by UNESCO a “masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art… [and] …represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices.It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.


Entrance to the Grottoes

After the decline of the Jin Dynasty, the northern parts of China came under the control of the Northern Wei. They made the city of Pingcheng, now known as Datong, their capital. Due to its promotion, Pingcheng saw an increase in construction work. The Northern Wei early adopted Buddhism as their state religion. Buddhism arrived in this location via travel on the ancient North Silk Road, the northernmost route of about 2600 kilometres in length, which connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an to the west over the Wushao Ling Pass to Wuwei and emerging in Kashgar before linking to ancient Parthia.

File:Yungang 12.JPG

Top of the column in the building protecing the caves of Yungang Grottoes, Datong, China

The work on this first period of carving lasted until the year 465 AD, and the caves are now known as caves 16–20. Beginning around the year 471 AD, in a second construction phase that lasted until 494 AD, the twin caves 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 as well as the caves 11, 12, and probably 13 were constructed under the supervision and support of the imperial court. The imperial patronage ended 494 AD with the move of the Wei court to the new capital of Luoyang. All other caves emerged under private patronage in a third construction period, lasting until 525, when the construction came to a final halt due to uprisings in the area.

File:China Yungang Grottoes IMG 3534.jpg

Yungang Grottoe Buddha

Since the end of the works, the sandstone of the grottoes is exposed to heavy weathering. The ensuing centuries therefore saw several attempts to preserve the caves and to repair sustained damage. During the Liao Dynasty the caves saw some renewing of statues and the buildup of the “10 temples of Yungang” from 1049 to 1060, that were meant to protect the main caves. However, they were destroyed again just some 60 years later in a fire. 1621, during the early Qing Dynasty, brought the construction of the wooden buildings that still can be seen in front of the caves 5 and 6. Since the 1950s, cracks in the sandstone have been sealed by grouting, and there are efforts to reduce the weathering due to sandstorms by forestation.

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Buddhist paintings. Yungang Grottoes, near Datong, Shanxi province, China
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Stone carved dougong inside Cave 9
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One of the larger statues at Yungang
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Cave 11, Yungang Grottoes, near Datong, Shanxi province, China
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Two Buddhist statues. The cave front has collapsed, leaving them visible from outside. Yungang Grottoes, near Datong, Shanxi province, China.
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File:Yungang painting 2010.JPG
Painting in Yungang Grottoes, Datong, China
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2
Yungang Temple Grottoes   awesome 2

Shanti Stupa & Peace Pagoda

Shanti Stupa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others

Shanti Stupa

File:Shanti Stupa.jpg

Shanti Stupa is located in India

Shanti Stupa
Location within India
Coordinates: 34°10′25″N 77°34′29″E
Monastery information
Location ChandspaLeh district Ladakh,Jammu and KashmirIndia
Founded by Ladakh Shanti Stupa Committee under Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura[citation needed]
Founded 1985
Type Tibetan Buddhist

Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa,Leh districtLadakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura .


The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself . The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape

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Main Buddha


The Shanti Stupa was built by both Japanese Buddhists and Ladakh Buddhists. Original idea was stated by Nichidatsu Fujii (Fujii Guruji) in 1914. The mission of Nichidatsu Fujii was to build Peace Pagodas and temples over the world and try to resurrect Buddhism back in India.

Construction of the Shanti Stupa began in April 1983 under the supervision of Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura and Kushok Bakula, a lama of Ladakh from New Delhi he was menber of Minority commission of Govt of India. a former statesman and former international diplomat of the Republic of India.

The project was built with the help of Ladakhi Buddhists who offered voluntary labour, and Japanese Buddhists who considered India as the “sacred” birth place of the Buddha. Then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, sanctioned the construction of a vehicular road to the stupa in 1984. The state government also provided some financial assistance for the construction of the Shanti Stupa. The 14th and current Dalai LamaTenzin Gyatso inaugurated the Shanti Stupa in August 1991.

File:Shanti stupa birth.jpg


Description and significance

The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base. The stupa is built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmacakra with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmacakra). The second level has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating. Both levels feature a series of smaller meditating Buddha reliefs.

File:Shanti Stupa defeating the devils.jpg

Defeating the devils

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.

File:Shanti stupa mahanirvana.jpg


File:Shanti stupa buddhas.jpg

Row of Buddhas

Tourist attraction

Since its inauguration, Shanti Stupa has become a popular tourist attraction. According to The Hindu it is the “most famous tourist attraction” around Leh, though its architectural style is different from the Ladakhi style. The Shanti Stupa overlooks the city of Leh, providing panoramic views of the city, the village of Changspa, Namgyal Tsemo in the distance and the surrounding mountains. Sunrise and sunset are considered to provide the best views from Shanti Stupa. The stupa is illuminated with lights at night.The stupa is open for tourists between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Panorama from Shanti stupa


Situated at a height of 4,267 metres (13,999 ft), the stupa is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Leh – the former capital of Ladakh – on a steep hill facing the Leh Palace. The stupa can be reached by a drivable road or on foot using a series of 500 steep steps to the hilltop.

Leh Palace

Leh Palace overlooks the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh, modelled on the Potala Palace in LhasaTibet. The palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century, but was later abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved to Stok Palace. Leh Palace is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, the stables and store rooms were in the lower floors. The palace, a ruin, is currently being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas. The mountain of Stok Kangriin the Zangskar mountain range is visible across the Indus valley to the south, with the Ladakh mountain range rising behind the palace to the north.


The ruined Royal Palace at Leh.

File:Leh Palau 5.jpg


Peace Pagoda

Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace. Most (though not all) have been built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-MyōhōjiBuddhist Order. Fujii was greatly inspired by his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 and decided to devote his life to promoting non-violence. In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines toWorld peace.

The first Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasakiwhere the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of World War II. By 2000, eighty Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

The Peace Pagoda was awarded the Courage of Conscience award June 5, 1998 in Sherborn, MA

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Shanti Stupa at Leh. This was built by the Japanese in the early 80s. It stands out, since everything else in Leh is old and dusty.

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Darjeeling, India

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Rajgir, India

File:The Sapporo Peace Stupa.JPG

Sapporo, Japan

This Peace Pagoda (Stupa) was built by Nipponzan-Myōhōji monks in 1959 halfway up Mount Moiwa. It was built to commemorate peace after World War II and can be seen from almost anywhere in Sapporo. It contains some of the ashes of the Buddha that were presented to the Emperor of Japan by Prime Minister Nehru in 1954. Later, another part of these were presented to Mikhail Gorbachev by the famous Nipponzan-Myōhōji monk, Junsei Terasawa.

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Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan

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World Peace Pagoda, Pokhara, Nepal

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Vienna, Austria


Milton Keynes, England :The Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda (52.057697°N 0.725436°W) was completed in 1980 at the northern edge of Willen lake in WillenMilton Keynes. This was the first Peace Pagoda in the western world.[10] There is a Nipponzan-Myōhōji Order temple andmonastery nearby (52.055436°N 0.726181°W).


peace pagoda at Battersea Park. London

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Benalmádena stupa – Spain , The Buddhist master Lopon Tsechu Rinpochefirst visited Spain in 1990, teaching at Karma Guen, a Buddhist meditation center nearBenalmádena. He built his first stupa there in 1994, the Enlightenment Stupa, Benalmadena, the largest in the western world at the time, “as a landmark of peace and prosperity for the country”. This stupa is not part of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji movement.

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Kuchary, Poland – This stupa is a result of the activity of Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche in Poland and was inaugurated on 29 July 2002.

New England: Leverett, MA

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The New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts

The New England Peace Pagoda (42.498994°N 72.491108°W) is the first Nipponzan-Myōhōji Peace Pagoda to be built in the US and was completed in 1986.

All recent Peace Pagodas in the United States were erected using 100% donated funds, tools, and labor. The Franklin County Technical School brought students from their electrical, plumbing, and carpentry shops to assist in building the temple.


The Peace Pagoda in San Francisco (37.785054°N 122.429827°W) is a five-tiered concrete stupa in Nihonmachi (Japantown) between Post and Geary Streets at Buchanan. It is part of the Japan Center complex  which opened in 1968. It was designed byJapanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi and presented to San Francisco by the people ofOsaka, Japan. This stupa is not associated with Nipponzan-Myōhōji.

File:PeacePagoda GraftonNY.jpg

Grafton, NY,

The Grafton Peace Pagoda was dedicated in 1993.

87 Crandall Road
Petersburgh, New York 12138
42.751109°N 73.408756°W

(The mailing address of this Pagoda is in Petersburgh since Grafton does not provide delivery service, but the pagoda is within the boundaries of the Town of Grafton.)

The site includes a temple, gardens, pond and the pagoda. Each year on September 11, a group of marchers begin a walk at the Grafton Peace Pagoda Site and end in New York City two weeks later.


Brisbane, Australia

Created by the Kingdom of Nepal for the 1988 World Exposition, Brisbane’s World Expo ’88, the Brisbane Nepal Peace Pagoda is now a permanent commemorative structure of the Expo. It is located at the transformed Expo site, South Bank Parklands.

The three-story Pagoda was constructed of Nepalese Terai timbers and assembled on the Expo site for the Expo. It was relocated to its new riverfront location at the conclusion of the Expo for the opening of the Parklands in 1992. It now features commemorative displays of the Expo and is a place for quiet and reflection. It features a Peace Bell, and there is a Peace Post in the Pagoda garden. This stupa is not associated with Nipponzan-Myōhōji