Tag Archives: Holy Lands

Uzbekistan – the legendary land

Map of Uzbekistan

To the outside world this may seem to be a small land-locked country in Central Asia with restricted lifestyle… A country that was confined in the shadow of the mighty USSR till two decades ago… But Uzbekistan is much more than that…

Uzbekistan culture

It is a country with deeply rooted cultural heritage and history dating back to pre-historic times… A country that was the link point of eastern and western civilizations… Home of countless historic / archeological sites… Versatile landscape that offers plenty of mountaineering and desert wildlife viewing activities, in addition to the abundance of heritage tourist spots… In proportionate to its not-so-large-size and location, Uzbekistan’s verity eye feasts are mind boggling.

Ceramics from Uzbekistan

No wonder, millions of ancient artifacts can be seen across Uzbekistan’s museums besides hundreds of scared Islamic relics – underlying the country’s colorful legacy.

Some of Uzbekistan’s notable tourist centers…

1. Tashkent

Capital of Uzbekistan

Capital of Uzbekistan plus its true cosmopolitan city… Tashkent, with its numerous historic sites and Islamic relics is dubbed as ‘the cultural capital of Islamic world’.

2. Samarkand

Mosque in Samarkand

A heritage city whose 2750th anniversary was celebrated in 26th Aug 2007, Samarkand consists of many precious monuments reflecting the unmatched skills of ancient architects. A place where different cultures meet!

3. Bukhara

Uzbekistan's 5th largest city

Another ancient city which was a hub of trade, culture and religion for long… Bukhara’s city center is preserved as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Khiva

The walled inner city of Ichan Kala

One more antique city with assets of great historical, cultural and religious values… most noteworthy of them is the inner city of Ichan Kala.

Uzbekistan mountains

In addition to the priceless historic sites, archeological sites, architectural wonders, religious sites (predominantly Islam that attracts Sufism followers), mountain ranges (that offer plenty of scope of rock climbing, mountain skiing, hiking, hand gliding, etc), desert wildlife regions together with nice climate and natural conditions; a comparatively new privilege to Uzbekistan tourist is ‘Dental Tourism’. Uzbekistan’s dental clinics provide high quality services at a cost much cheaper than those in the Western and Central Asian countries. To sum up, travel to Uzbekistan means ‘entertainments aplenty in a legendary, versatile, but not-so-large land’!

Flag of Uzbekistan

Largest ever Temple……?

Kerala tours

Around the world, various kinds of worship centers proudly stand as the hallmarks of great religions. Among those, the term ‘Temple’ is commonly referred in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism …. to name a few. In such a vast religious scenario, a search for the largest ever worship center will throw up many an answer(s). Even a simple search, confining to the biggest temples alone, often ends up with quite a few debatable answers.

Even as the answer to ‘the largest temple in the world’ continues to be debatable, let’s have a look at some of the grand temples in various regions.

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tiruchirapalli, South India

Spread over an area of 156 acres, the Ranganathaswamy Temple easily makes way to the list of largest temples across the world. This massive temple complex houses 21 gopurams (towers), of which the most remarkable one is the 246 feet tall ‘Rajagopuram’ (Royal Tower) – tallest in Asia and one of the tallest of its kind anywhere else.

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Ranganathaswamy is a form of Lord Vishnu in reclining pose), this giant shrine is of high religious significance for Vaishnavites and, is perhaps second only to the Andra’s Tirupati Balaji Temple, in terms of the number of pilgrims received per year.

Considering the size and vastness, Ranganathaswamy Temple complex can rightly be considered as “the largest functioning Hindu temple complex in the world”.

Akshardham Temple, New Delhi, North India

The most modern temple of the lot, completed in the year 2005, the BAPS Akshardham Temple is the “world’s biggest Hindu temple” as per Guinness World Records.

Covering an area of around 13 hectares (32 acres), the entire temple is built with reputed Rajasthani sandstones and Italian marbles. Akshardham’s central monument is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long… and is studded with beautiful sculptures of various deities, musicians, dancers, etc. The temple walls are elegantly carved – both inside and outside. Here one can relish the sights of stunningly elegant carvings (trademark of a fast diminishing an aged art form).

Though built in modern times, Akshardham strictly adheres to ancient temple standards – no usage of steel or any other metals and without support from concrete! Experts testify that this temple is constructed in such a way as to last for at least one thousand years.

Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia

A magnificent testimony of the old Khmer Empire (9th to 13th century) in Cambodia, the entire area of the Angkor Wat temple complex is roughly five times more than the Akshardham Temple complex.

Originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it later became a Buddhist temple after the decline of Khmer and rise of Buddhism in Far East Asia.

Eventhough some ruins have taken their toll, the entire structure of this overwhelmingly large temple is nothing short than extraordinary. Among this colossal build, particularly noteworthy is a group of three rectangular galleries that rise to a central tower. Each gallery is higher than the last – inner gallery measures 197 x 197 feet, the next one is 328 x 377 feet, and the outer gallery is 614 x 705 feet! The central tower, above all these, stands 213 feet high from the ground level.

For the title of “the largest non-functioning temple in the world”, there seems no better answer than Angkor Wat.

Karnak Temple complex, Luxor, Egypt

Karnak represents the legacy of ancient Egypt. Though it is difficult to estimate its actual size in the present depleted condition, earlier records state that Karnak was once a very large temple complex where many temples reflected the skills of generations of Egyptian builders.

The one who still stands majestically among the ruins of Karnak is the ‘Great Hypostyle Hall’ – a hall area of around fifty thousand square feet, where 134 gigantic columns set in 16 rows support a roof (which has now fallen in the test of time).

With few sites that match its ageless grander, Karnak temple complex is the Numero Uno “world’s largest ancient temple complex”.

To put it short, each one of these amazing temples tops in certain aspects…

Angkor Wat outscores other temples as the world’s largest non-functioning temple. Ranganathaswamy Temple complex gets to top as the largest fully-functioning Hindu temple complex in the world. Karnak deserves its due as the world’s largest ancient temple complex. Akshardham Temple is the world’s largest Hindu Temple in Guinness World Records, but this fact is highly disputed, and even some major temples in India (like, Madurai’s ‘Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple’, Thanjavur’s ‘Brihadeeswara Temple’ and Tiruvannamalai’s  ‘Arunachaleswarar Temple’) challenge this claim.

Interesting debates goes on & on …