Katasraj Mandir

Katasraj Mandir is a Hindu temple complex situated in Katas village, Punjab, Pakistan, in the Salt Range mountains. Since it is not very far from the Khewra Salt Mine, I went there after the mine, before going back to Lahore. Dedicated to Shiva, the Katasraj temple complex is believed to date back to the Mahabharata era. Many legends are associated with the temples: The five Pandava brothers, heroes of the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata, stayed here for 4 of the 13 years they spent in exile. Another story goes: After the death of his wife Sati, Shiva cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds, one in Rajasthan, the other here at Katas. The temple complex was abandoned by local Hindus when they migrated to India during partition in 1947 and no one stayed back. However, it has remained a place of pilgrimage for Hindu worshippers (especially from Sindh).

Above, in the Salt Range, on the way to Katas.

Above, entrance of Katasraj Mandir.

Above, the pond.

Above, Hanuman Temple. It is normally not open to visitors but after my guide had a chat with the guardian, they let us through.

Above, one of the few remaining original frescos.

Above, view from the top of Hanuman Temple.

Above, remain of a Buddhist stupa.

Above, fertility ritual inside Shiva Temple. The guy is pouring milk on a stone representing Shiva’s penis (Shiv Ling).

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

On my last full day in Japan, I checked out early from my apartment in Tokyo and headed to my hotel next to the airport in Narita (Chiba prefecture). I then spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around Narita. The main highlight of the city is Naritasan Shinshoji Temple: It is a large buddhist temple dedicated to Fudo Myo. Besides the temple buildings, Naritasan is famous for its Gion festival, held every summer, its massive Great Pagoda of Peace and a large garden.

Above, the Narita Omotesando road goes from the train station to the temple. It is lined with shops and statues from the Japanese zodiac.

Above, main gate of the temple.

Above, main hall.

Above, three-story pagoda.

Above, Great Pagoda of Peace.

Above, in the temple garden.

Above, Naritasan Shusseinari Shrine.

Tokyo walk: Yanaka & Nippori

The Yanaka (谷中) neighbourhood is located between Sendagi and Nippori stations. It is known for its large number of buddhist temples and cemeteries, the biggest of which is the Yanaka cemetery.

Above, golden statue in Zenshoan Temple.

Above, Saikoji Temple.

Above, Zuirinji Temple.

Above, statue of Nichiren.

Above, Daigyoji Temple.

Above, the former Yoshidaya sake shop (annex of the Taito Shitamachi Museum).

Above, central alley of Yanaka cemetery.

Above, the alley in spring. It is lined with cherry trees and is a popular sightseeing place during sakura season (I was a bit too late for that though).

Above, the cemetery in spring, when most of the sakura flowers have fallen down.

Above, Buddha statue in Tennoji Temple, next to Yanaka cemetery and Nippori station.

Above, Tennoji temple in spring.

Above, Nippori JR station.

Above, “Tomato” shop. It actually is a fabric store: The surrounding area is officially known as Fabric Town.

Above, statue in front of Nippori station.

Above, train tracks at Nippori station.

Tokyo walk: Ikebukuro to Gokoku-ji Temple

After eating ramen, I was walking at random and taking pictures in Ikebukuro. Next thing I knew, I was on a pilgrimage through the temples in the area, ending at Gokoku-ji in Bunkyo.

Above, the owl (fukuro in Japanese) is the totem animal of Ikebukuro and Toshima City.

Above, another set of owls…

Above, Shinjoin Temple.

Above, Homyoji Temple.

Above, Kishimojin Temple.

Above, Otori Shrine.

Above, Ebisu, the god of fishermen and luck and one of the 7 Lucky Gods.

Above, stray cat at the shrine.

Above, Toden Arakawa streetcar.

Above, Seiryuin Temple.

Above, Inari shrine in Bunkyo.

Above, cemetery at Gokoku-ji Temple.

Above, gate of Gokoku-ji Temple.