Badami Cave Temples

The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the north part of Karnataka, India. They are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially Badami Chalukya Architecture. Badami, the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka in the 6th to 8th centuries, lies at the mouth of a ravine with rocky hills on either side and a town tank in which water from the ravine flows. The town is known for its ancient cave temples carved out of the sandstone hills above.

The Badami cave temples are composed of four caves, all carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff in the late 6th to 7th centuries. The planning of four caves is simple. The entrance is a verandah (mukha mandapa) with stone columns and brackets, a distinctive feature of these caves, leading to a columned mandapa – main hall (also maha mandapa) and then to the small square shrine (sanctum sanctorum, garbhaghrha) cut deep into the cave. The temple caves represent different religious sects. Among them, two (cave 2 and 3) are dedicated to god Vishnu, one to god Shiva (cave 1) and the fourth (cave 4) is a Jain temple. The first three are devoted to the Vedic faith and the fourth cave is the only Jain temple at Badami.

The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. Their architecture is a blend of North Indian Nagara Style and South Indian Dravidian style. As described above each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals.

Important part of historical heritage at Badami cave temples are inscriptions in old Kannada script. There is also the fifth cave temple in Badami – Buddhist temple in natural cave which can be entered only on all fours.

Via: Evil Sunday


Sokushinbutsu Self-Mummified Monks

Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist priests who took their own lives in such a way that they became mummies and were revered for their spirit and dedication.

Popular in northern Japan, especially around the Yamagato Prefecture, the practice of becoming Sokushinbutsu is believed to a tantric ritual from Tang China, brought to the Land of the Rising Sun by the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

In the second part of the Sokushinbutsu process, the monk ate only the bark and roots of pine trees, and consumed a poisonous tee, made from the sap of the urushi tree. Commonly used to laquer bowls, the sap contained Urushiol, which caused him frequent vomiting and the loss of bodily fluids. This stage took another 1,000 days.

Regarded as the ultimate test of self-denial, the procedure of becoming Sokushinbutsu had the Buddhist monks go through several years of self-induced torture. During the first stage of the process, a priest would take on a diet of seeds and nuts, while taking part in rigorous physical exercises that stripped them of all their body fat. This stage lasted for 1,000 days.

Finally, the self-mummifying monk locked himself in a small stone tomb that barely allowed him to assume a permanent lotus position. The tomb was sealed and a small air tube remained the monk’s only connection to the outside world. He was given a bell, and each day he would ring it so that the people knew he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing the air tube was removed and the tomb completely sealed.

While foreigners might think Sokushinbutsu monks had to be mad to go through such a long and painful process just to eventually kill themselves, they were actually raised to the status of Buddha and revered in Shingon temples across northern Japan. To them, this reward was more than enough.

Until it was outlawed, in the late 18th century, it is believed hundreds of monks attempted to become Sokushinbutsu, but many of them failed. Only between 16 and 24 Sokushinbutsu mummies have been discovered in Japan. Although this practice has been illegal for sometime now, a new Sokushinbutsu was discovered in July 2010, right in Tokyo.

Via: OddityCentral

The Incredible Hanging Temple of Hengshan

via Atlas Obscura

Similar, in a way, to the Hanging Houses of Cuenca, the Hanging Temple of Hengshan is an amazing display of architecture.

The Hanging Temple of Hengshan literally hangs on the side of Hengshan Mountain, sustain by only a few wooden poles. You would think this kind of a building couldn’t for hundreds of years, but it is believed the temple was built during the late Northern Wei Dinasty (386-534AD), by a monk called Liao Ran. It was restored during the 1900s.

The gravity-defying Hanging Temple of Hengshan is comprised of 40 chambers, liked through a network of passageways, and hosts not one but three religions. Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are all worshiped here, in harmony.

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