Temples of the Borobudur Region – Travel Diary, Day One – Candi Mendut, the Mendut Vihara, and Candi Pawon

This post covers Day 1 of 3 from the travel diary by Joan Foo Mahony, publisher of Architecture of the Buddhist World book series. Part 2 here.

TEMPLES OF THE BOROBODUR REGION, Jogjakarta, Indonesia

18th to 22nd September 2013

Through the kindness of Brother Dr. H.S Tan, the founder of the Nalanda Institute in Kuala Lumpur, I was one of his fortunate forty-five students who were invited on this trip to Borobodur to see one of the wonders of the Buddhist world.

These are my notes of a remarkable dharmic journey.

DAY ONE – CANDI MENDUT

Candi Mendut, located 3 km from the Borobodur temple complex was built in 760 CE, at the height of the Shailendra dynasty during the Sri Vijaya period, about 10 years before the huge temple complex of Borobodur itself was actually built. However, it is believed that when Candi Mendut was built, this was done specifically with Borobodur in mind. It was part of the builders’ grand design.

Candi Mendut faces west towards Borobodur and is located 3 km eastwards from it The smaller Candi Pawon lies in between in a straight line. Candi Pawon is about 1 km away from Borobodur. A pilgrim in those days who travelled to see the wonders of Borobodur would thus be travelling along this straight line in this area now called the Kedu Plains, arriving first at Candi Mendut; then to the next temple, Candi Pawon; and then finally reaching Borobodur.

As they journey, the pilgrims would cross the two rivers of Elo and Progo, the waters of the rivers symbolically purifying them.

Candi’ refers to ancient structures based on the Indian type of single-celled shrine, with a pyramidal tower above it, and a portico. The term Candi is given as a prefix to the many Hindu and Buddhist temples which are pre-Islamic in origin in Indonesia, built as a representation of the Cosmic Mount Meru.

Candi Mendut is a small but absolutely exquisite temple ; a stand-alone single structure set in a small peaceful garden by a great big tree.

Tree-shaded approach to Candi Mendut
Tree-shaded approach to Candi Mendut

As a single structure, Candi Mendut differs from the other temples of Borobodur and the Jogjakarta region as they are all a complex of temples. It is as a single structure that accounts for its beauty; its stunning simplicity and form built more than 1,000 years ago. It is perfectly balanced and symmetrical and although the top of the Candi is no longer visible, one can imagine how beautiful it once must have been. Even without the topmost part, Candi Mendut reflects a quiet dignity. To be able to be there up close and seeing this exquisite jewel of a temple is such a pleasure and a privilege.

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Brother Tan, leading the participants in prayer and circumambulating the Candi Mendut, before stepping up to the Candi Continue reading Temples of the Borobudur Region – Travel Diary, Day One – Candi Mendut, the Mendut Vihara, and Candi Pawon

“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!

Botataung Pagoda – One of Yangon’s Most Distinctive Landmarks

The story of the Botataung Pagoda (also spelled Bo Ta Htaung or Botahtaung) began at least 1500 ago: King Sihadipa (of the Thaton Kingdom, a Mon state) and his queen held an assembly of one thousand armed generals at the bank of Yangon river, called Dagon Jetty at the time, now known as Bo Ta Htaung Jetty meaning 1000 generals Jetty. The assembly was to welcome the landing of Buddha Hair Relics and enshrine the sacred hair at the place for 6 months. This king constructed the Pagoda to hold the relics and other artifacts

Botataung Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar
Botataung Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

The original pagoda was destroyed during World War II from bombing raids. When the new pagoda was constructed, a new mirrored maze-like walkway in was added in the interior with glass showcases for the ancient Buddha relic and other artifacts. The height and other architectural aspects retain the original structure’s designs. According to the terracotta plaques founded when the casket was opened, the script date from the ancient Mon kingdom.  Continue reading Botataung Pagoda – One of Yangon’s Most Distinctive Landmarks

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, The Great Chedi of Lanna

Wat Phra That Hariphunchai is  located in the heat of Lamphun city, about 28 kms southeast of Chiang Mai. The temple has long been regarded as an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists especially for those who were born in the Year of the Rooster. The main chedi houses a hair, crown of a skull, chest and finger bones of Buddha.

Wat Pratat Hariphunchai
Wat Pratat Hariphunchai

Continue reading Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, The Great Chedi of Lanna

Wat Okat Si Bua Ban, Holy Icon of Nakhon Phanom City

Located by the Mekong River not far from the Indochine market in the municipality, Wat Okat Si Bua Ban or locally known as Wat Okat, is one the most important temples in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. The sacred temple has been honored since ancient times and is regarded today as the iconic temple of Nakhon Phanom.

The temple houses two ancient Buddha statues ‘Phra Tio’ and ‘Phra Thiam’, which are situated together. Phra Tio, 60 cm. high, was carved from ‘Tio’ wood and later covered with gold plate.

Front Gate of Wat Okat Si Bua Ban
Front Gate of Wat Okat Si Bua Ban

Continue reading Wat Okat Si Bua Ban, Holy Icon of Nakhon Phanom City

London Golden Lands book launch photos, September 2014

The Golden Lands book launched with signings and talks by author Vikram Lall in London in September 2014. See photos below.

>> See the 2014 launch events diary here

>> See launch event photos from October/November 2014 here

Golden Lands author Vikram Lall with publisher Joan Foo Mahony at the V&A Museum Bookshop
Golden Lands author Vikram Lall with publisher Joan Foo Mahony at the V&A Museum Bookshop
Vikram Lall discussing the Golden Lands book with Dr Clarke of the SE Asian Dept of the V&A
Vikram Lall discussing the Golden Lands book with Dr Clarke of the SE Asian Dept of the V&A

Continue reading London Golden Lands book launch photos, September 2014

Wat Pongsanuk, UNESCO Award-Winning Heritage Temple

Opposite the Wang River in the municipality of Lampang province, Thailand, is Wat Pongsanuk (also spelled Pong Sanuk or Pong Sanook), a 500-year-old temple site with buildings in a mix of Lanna, Burmese and Chinese architectural and decorative styles.

Similar to Wat Phratat Lampang Luang, Wat Pong Sanuk is surrounded with a white wall built on a man-made mound of earth.

A two-year historically informed restoration project of the viharn (Viharn Phra Chao Pun Ong) was given an Award of Merit in 2008 by UNESCO.

Wat Pong Sanuk,
Wat Pong Sanuk,

 

Continue reading Wat Pongsanuk, UNESCO Award-Winning Heritage Temple

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Temple of Great Buddha Relic

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is one of the most exquisite temples of Thailand. It is located in Ko Kah district, approximately 20 kilometres Southwest of Lampang in the Northern part of Thailand.

Literally, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang means Temple of Lampang’s Great Buddha Relic. According to legend, the Buddha once visited the site some 2,500 years ago and donated a hair, which is now kept in the temple’s large chedi together with the right forehead and neck bones.

It is also the temple of those who were born in the Ox year because the construction of the temple is held to have begun and finished in years of the Ox.

Main Chedi of Prata Lampang Luang
Main Chedi of Prata Lampang Luang

Continue reading Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, Temple of Great Buddha Relic

Wat Phra That Phanom, Sacred Gem of Thailand’s Northeast

The sacred chedi of Phra That Phanom (also spelled Pratat Phanom) is famous as the oldest in the Northeastern part of Thailand. It is located in the compound of Wat Phratat Phanom Waramahawihan, 52 kilometers south of Nakhon Phanom Province.

This small city was once  the center of the glorious Sri Kotrabun Kingdom (5th-10th Century) encompassing territories  on  both  sides  of  the  Mekong river.  According to the Pratat Phanom legend, the name Sri Kotrabun (ศรีโคตม์บูร) means “The land of the Lord Buddha Kotama” to honor the pilgrimage visit of Lord Buddha Kotama in this area. It was also known by villager as Sri Kotrabong city (ศรีโคตรตะบอง) because the ruler of the Kingdom had a powerful staff as his weapon.

Pratat Phanom Chedi with its golden replica
Pratat Phanom Chedi with its golden replica

Decoration around the chedi
Decoration around the chedi

 

Continue reading Wat Phra That Phanom, Sacred Gem of Thailand’s Northeast

Visiting Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho (pronounced Wat-Poor) is one of the most famous temples in Bangkok. Located in the Phar Nakhon district, Wat Pho is walking distance to Kaho San Road and the Chayo Phraya River.

The wat is world famous for the huge image of the reclining Buddha inside the temple. The statue is 15 meters high and 43 meters long, with the foot of the Buddha scribed with pearls. The underside of the foot is split up into 108 unique sections, displaying lucky symbols.

Bangkok Wat Pho reclining Buddha” by Phillip Maiwald (Nikopol) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Next to the statue lie 108 bronze bowls that reflect each of the symbols on the Buddha’s foot. It is believed that you will bring luck upon yourselves if you place money into these bowls. The money collected is used to help maintain the temple. Continue reading Visiting Wat Pho, Bangkok

Visiting Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Bagan is one of the world’s greatest Buddhist sites, comparable in size only with Angkor Wat.

Even though Myanmar already nominated Bagan for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, it still remains only on the “tentative list”.

After years of unrest, the government is slowly but steadily working towards UNESCO’s suggested plans for conservation and preservation of Bagan’s more than 3000 temples, stupas and monasteries.

The Bagan Archaelogical Zone stretches across an area of 42 km2.

bagan no. 2
Balloons over Bagan via Flickr by Paul Arps : http://bit.ly/1on2v8o

When discussing the historical kingdom, Bagan is commonly spelled “Pagan”: the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to the 13th century and covered a large part of present-day Burma. Often considered as the glory days, much of the Burmese culture and known traditions were established during that time. Continue reading Visiting Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

The Golden Lands Book – Frequently Asked Questions

The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall - JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press, September 2014 - international/publisher-direct ISBN 9789670138039

The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall – JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press, September 2014 – international/publisher-direct ISBN 9789670138039

Here are some answers to frequent questions about The Golden Lands book – and please feel free to add comments on this post or contact us with further questions.

What is the book about?

This is a study of the architectural history of Buddhist stupas, temples, monasteries, and temple complexes, through the eyes of a professional architect, covering many famous historical (and living Buddhist) monuments in Southeast Asia, as well as documenting a series of lesser-known sites.

The book is in “coffee table” size and is extensively illustrated with beautiful colour photographs, as well as diagrams and maps.

Eventually the whole (planned six book) Architecture of the Buddhist World series will extend this survey to cover all regions of the world up to and including modern Buddhist architecture. Continue reading The Golden Lands Book – Frequently Asked Questions

Recommended Asian Architecture Books: Tuttle

We’ve mentioned two architecture of Buddhism books from Asia-specialist publisher Tuttle before – Borobudur: Majestic Mysterious Magnificent [ISBN 9786029827903]  and Borobudur: Golden Tales of the Buddhas [ISBN 9780945971900]

Here is a selection of other architecture / design / history titles from the same publisher and associated publishers which are likely to be of interest to architects, Asian culture lovers, and travellers.

The ISBN can be searched in any online bookstore, and each image links to the book’s page on tuttlepublishing.com

Architecture: South and Southeast Asia

Burmese Design & Architecture; ISBN 9780794604639
Burmese Design & Architecture; ISBN 9780794604639
Balinese Architecture; ISBN 9780804844598
Balinese Architecture; Periplus Editions; ISBN 9780804844598

Continue reading Recommended Asian Architecture Books: Tuttle

The first ever art historical survey focusing comprehensively on the Architecture of the Buddhist World