6 Ancient Sites Where You Can Find Inspiration
For centuries, Asia’s shrines and temples have attracted pilgrims in search of equanimity, enlightenment and release. But you don’t have to be a devotee to appreciate their architectural beauty and the sense of peace they convey. As a business owner, you’re deluged with requests and demands on your time.
Make time to visit one of these six sites, and you’ll find the balance, energy and creativity you need to rejuvenate your work trips.
- Harmandir Sahib (India, Sikhism). The “Golden Temple,” as it is known, rises up out of a lake that has drawn spiritual seekers since time immemorial; no less a visitor than Buddha himself once came here to meditate. The current temple, gilded in gold and adorned with precious stones, dates from the 1500s and is the worldwide headquarters of Sikhism. The temple is also very welcoming to visitors: you can enter, eat and even store your shoes for free. Truly a place to leave your cares behind.Image credit: Shutterstock
- The Temple of Heaven (China, Taoism). Located in the southern part of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 as the private temple of the Ming emperor Yongle, who also built the Forbidden City. The site’s 273 hectares of pine forest became a park in 1918 and, in 1998, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture is an aesthetic combination of circles (representing heaven) and squares (representing the earth), while the upper platform was once considered the most sacred spot in the Chinese empire.Image credit: Shutterstock
- The Lotus Temple (India, Bahá'í). Since its inauguration in 1986, the Bahá'í House of Worship in New Delhi has become one of the most visited buildings in the world, with some 8,000-10,000 visitors a day. But don’t let the crowds throw you off. Evoking the ancient Indian symbol of the lotus flower, the temple is made up of a series of thin, free-standing concrete shells or “petals” which, together, form the building’s nine entrances, the outer hall, and the central room of worship. Outside, you can amble around the nine pools which represent the floating leaves of the lotus, and provide ventilation to the building. Allegorical architecture at its most representative. Image credit: Shutterstock
- Fushimi Inari Shrine (Japan, Shinto). Located at the base of sacred Mount Inari, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is the most important shrine devoted to the Shinto god of rice. Located in southern Kyoto, this ancient shrine actually predates the city’s founding in 794. Statues of foxes, thought to be the messengers of the god, dot the grounds. If you’re in a walking mood, head through the stunning senbon tori – two parallel rows of densely-placed gates – to the hiking trails leading to the top of the mountain; in just an hour or so, you’ll be enjoying eagle-eye views of Kyoto and beyond.Image credit: Shutterstock
- Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Bali, Hinduism). Bali is known as the “island of a thousand puras,” or temples. But not all of them reside on land. Built in 1663 in veneration of Dewi Danu, the water goddess of Balinese Hinduism, the Pura Ulun Danu Bratun is located, appropriately, in the middle of Lake Bratan, the “Lake of the Holy Mountain.” The most striking feature of the temple is an upward-reaching series of 11 palm fiber roofs called meru. It is connected by a bridge to a neighboring, three-roofed temple, where a well provides the holy water or “tirtu” used to bless prayer visitors.Image credit: Shutterstock
- Wat Rong Khun (Thailand, Buddhism). As long-term building projects go, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona has got nothing on Wat Rong Khun in Thailand. The brainchild of Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple won’t be completed for another 90 years! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to visit already. The all-white edifice—a symbol of the Buddha’s purity—is a feast for the senses, with mosaic mirrors, disembodied heads hanging from trees, a bridge to the entrance that crosses over a multitude of arms stretching up from Hell, and, once safely inside, a series of murals with such contemporary figures as Superman, Freddy Kruger, and Michael Jackson representing the vanity of terrestrial life. Kositpipat’s project is, understandably, controversial, but one thing is for sure: Buddhist architecture has never been this hip.Image credit: Shutterstock
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