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Thai Temple Structures 101

Thai temples, known as wats, are very distinctive.  The word wat means school, but is used only to refer to temple complexes.  The Phutthawat is what we think of when we see the word temple.  It is where all of the main religious buildings are contained.  The Sanghawat is the living area for the monks.

Roof of Ayutthaya. Photo by thetempletrail.com
Roof at Ayutthaya. Photo by thetempletrail.com

Phra Ubosot

The ubosot is the most important building in the temple.  It is the ordination hall and it is where the primary Buddha image of the temple is normally housed.  The Ubosot does not have physical contact with the other buildings and is clearly marked off by eight Bai Sema (marker stones named after their similarity to Bodhi leaves).  The ubosot is where the ceremonies and rituals for the monks take place and is, therefore, the holiest part of the temple. You will notice that the entrance to the ubosot will almost always face the east.

Ubosot in Ayutthaya. Photo by thetempletrail.com

Wiharn

The wiharn is a shrine hall.  It normally houses a Buddha image.  Larger temples can have more than one wiharn.  The wiharn is where ceremonies for both monks and lay people are conducted.

Wiharn of Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai. Photo by thetempletrail.com

Chedi

The chedi is amonument that contains a relic or the cremated remains of a monk or member of the royal family.  They vary enormously and in Thailand you will see a huge range of differing styles.  Chedis are normally constructed over a relic chamber.  They are traditionally made of laterite or brick andcovered in stucco.  Normally they are covered in gold.  Every temple typically has at least one main chedi.

Chedi at Wat Phra Keaw. Photo by thetempletrail.com

Continue reading Thai Temple Structures 101

“A Journey Into the Heart of Java” – tour details from Remote Lands Tours

The Remote Lands tour company provides exclusive extra information on one of their most popular Indonesia tours: “A Journey into the Heart of Java”…

The Borobudur Temple is one of the most famous attractions in Indonesia. [Photo copyright remotelands.com]

What are the highlights of this tour, and who is it for?

The main theme of this tour is to help travellers learn about history of Buddhism and Hinduism with their rich history of ceremonies, monuments, temples and arts. This is a favourite tour for those who love historical travel and want to find out about the centuries of Indonesian history before Muslim and Christian religions arrived.

Aside from history and architecture, action highlights include white water rafting and hiking to Merapi Volcano sites.

Another highlight of Java is the Prambanan Temple. [Photo copyright remotelands.com]

The tour starts from Yogyakarta: is this the base for day visits?

Not for everything. In order to avoid spending long hours driving, we do 2 nights in Yogyakarta and 3 nights in Borobudur and we visit sites on the drive from Jogja to Borobudur or vice versa.

Borobudur Temple. [Photo copyright remotelands.com]

What should we see and do in Yogyakarta?

In the city we visit the Sultan’s Palace and a Batik processing factory. Close by, Prambanan Temple is a “Must See” with its rich store of Hindu history and beautiful reliefs. Our visits are carefully timed to avoid crowds. Continue reading “A Journey Into the Heart of Java” – tour details from Remote Lands Tours

Photos of the Tiger Cave Temple, Thailand

The Tiger Cave Temple (or Wat Tham Suea, also spelled Wat Tham Sua) is a magnificent Buddhist temple complex located 8 kilometers northeast of Krabi, in Thailand. Perhaps it is most famous for the huge Buddha statue that can be seen from the bottom of the mountain.

The huge golden Buddha statue. Photo “Wat Tham Sua 2” by kallerna . Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The temple’s history goes back to 1975 when a monk decided to meditate in the cave. According to the legends a tiger lived in the cave leaving paw prints on its walls. Since then a huge and diverse complex has built on the site.

The pagoda of Tiger Cave Temple under construction. Photo by kallerna, via http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wat_Tham_Sua_6.jpg
More photos on our Pinterest board!

Recommended Books on the History, Art and Architecture of Buddhism

In our newest picture collection we organized into one gallery all the covers of the books we recommended so far on the history, art and architecture of Buddhism.  Some of these books give great general introductions to broader topics, but we tried to choose more specific books as well, in the case you would like to deepen your knowledge.

Click here to see the whole gallery!

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Take a look at our previous articles too!

5 Recommended Books on Angkor Wat

What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?

12 Recommended Books on Buddhist Architecture

12 Recommended Books on Buddhism in Southeast Asia

Recommended Books on Southeast Asian Buddhist Sacred Places

Explanation of the Main Branches of Buddhism

Although the roots of Buddhism go back to India, over the centuries the religion spread across the whole of Asia. It’s really easy to get lost between the many different schools and sub-branches of Buddhism, but most commonly it is divided into two main branches: Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia
Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia

Theravāda Buddhism

Years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha, the monastic community split into two mainstream schools called Sthavira and Mahāsanghika, mainly due to some differences in the religious practice and the interpretation of the teaching.

The Theravāda tradition is said to be the continuation of the more orthodox Sthavira school.

The ‘Theravada’ is a Sanskrit expression which means the ‘Doctrine of the Elders’.

The Theravāda is a conservatist current in the sense that the theravādins put great emphasis on the preservation of the doctrine and the tradition in its original and most authentic form.

Continue reading Explanation of the Main Branches of Buddhism

What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?

Borobudur: Majestic Mysterious Magnificent

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Author: John N. Miksic, Noerhadi Magetsari, Jan Fontein, Timbul Haryono
Pages: 272
Published: BAB Publishing Indonesia (2011)
ISBN: 978-6029827903

Borobudur

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Author: Louis Frederic
Photographer: Jean-Louis Nou
Pages: 347
Published: Abbeville Press; First Edition edition (1996)
ISBN: 978-0789201348

Continue reading What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?