Pattadakal, in Karnataka, represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there. One masterpiece from the group stands out – the Temple of Virupaksha, built c. 740 by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the South.
Shore Temple – Mahabalipuram – UNESCO WHS
The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven – the human world and God’s world – which stands at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.
The Altar of Heaven and Earth, together with the wall surrounding the garden, was completed in 1420, the eighteenth year of the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle. The central building was a large rectangular sacrificial hall, where sacrifices were offered to heaven and earth, with the Fasting Palace to the south-west. Pines were planted in the precinct of the Temple to emphasize the relationship between humankind and nature.
In the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1530) the decision was taken to offer separate sacrifices to heaven and to earth, and so the Circular Mound Altar was built to the south of the main hall, for sacrifices to heaven. The Altar of Heaven and Earth was renamed the Temple of Heaven. Concurrently, temples to the earth, the sun, and the moon were built in the north, east, and west of the city respectively.
The large sacrificial hall was dismantled fifteen years later and replaced by the round Hall of Daxiang, used for offering prayers for abundant harvests. In 1553 an outer city, which included the Temple of Heaven, was created around Beijing.
In 1749, the fourteenth year of the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianlong, the Circular Mound was enlarged, the original blue-glazed tiles being replaced with white marble. Two years later renovation work took place at the Hall of Daxiang, and it was given the new name of the Hall of Prayers for Abundant Harvests. This was the heyday of the Temple of Heaven, when it covered 273ha.
Ceremonial sacrifices to heaven were banned by the government of the Republic of China in 1911. By that date, 490 years after its foundation, the Temple of Heaven had witnessed 654 acts of worship to heaven by 22 Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was opened as a public park in 1918 and has been so ever since.
Mount Song, known in Chinese as Song Shan, is one of the Five Great Mountains and is located in Henan province on the south bank of the Yellow River in China. Its summit is 1,500 meters above sea level.
The mountain is one of the sacred Taoist mountains of China, and contains important Taoist temples such as the Zhongyue Temple; however the mountain also features a significant Buddhist presence. It is home to the Shaolin Temple, traditionally considered the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, and the temple’s collection of pagoda forest is the largest in China. The Zhongyue Temple is also located here, one of the earliest Taoist temples in the country. The Songyang Academy nearby was one of the four great academies of ancient China. The mountain and its vicinity are populated with Taoist and especially Buddhist monasteries. The 6th century Songyue Pagoda is also located here, as well as Tang Dynasty (618–907) pagodas within the Fawang Temple. Eight locations at the foot of the mountain in Dengfeng have been a World Heritage Site since 2010.
Horyu-ji – Kyozo Hall
Founded by Prince Shotoku, who is attributed with having introduced Buddhism to Japan, Horyuji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. Its main hall, five storied pagoda and central gate, all located in the temple’s Saiin Garan (Western Precinct) and dating from the 7th century, are the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures.
Next to the Saiin Garan is the newly constructed Daihozoin, a hall that exhibits a part of the temple’s art collection. The main attraction of the Horyuji’s Toin Garan (Eastern Precinct) is the Yumedono, the Hall of Visions.
In 1993, Horyuji was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Unlike many other historic attractions in Japan, Horyuji is wheelchair accessible and provides pamphlets in various foreign languages.
The temple, cemetery and family mansion of Confucius, the great philosopher, politician and educator of the 6th–5th centuries B.C., are located at Qufu, in Shandong Province. Built to commemorate him in 478 B.C., the temple has been destroyed and reconstructed over the centuries; today it comprises more than 100 buildings. The cemetery contains Confucius’ tomb and the remains of more than 100,000 of his descendants. The small house of the Kong family developed into a gigantic aristocratic residence, of which 152 buildings remain. The Qufu complex of monuments has retained its outstanding artistic and historic character due to the devotion of successive Chinese emperors over more than 2,000 years.
The Xumi Fushou Temple ( literally “Temple of Happiness and Longevity of the Sumeru Mountain”) is one of the Eight Outer Temples in Chengde in the Chinese province of Hebei. The Buddhist temple is located in the north of the park complex of the Chengde Mountain Resort to the east of Putuo Zongcheng Temple on the north side of a slightly upward slope hill. The temple covers an area of 37,900 square meters.
In 1778, during the 43rd year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the reigning Panchen Lama VI of Tibet was invited to journey to Chengde to congratulate Emperor Qianlong on the occasion of his 70th birthday which was due in 1780. In order to receive the Lama in a setting appropriate to his position, Qianlong had Xumi Fushou Monastery constructed. It is built along the lines of the Zhashilunpu monastery where the Panchen Lama lived in Shigatse, Tibet, though it incorporates many Chinese elements.
The Panchen Lama, known as Lobsang Palden Yeshe, set out with a large retinue for a trip that was expected to last several months and travel over several thousand kilometers of rough terrain. Along the way Chinese representatives contacted him and assisted with transportation on the way to Beijing and Chengde. Although the Panchen Lama reached Chengde and stayed there for a time, the visit turned into a disaster when the Panchen Lama contracted smallpox in Beijing. He died on Nov 2nd, 1780 in Beijing.