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).


Gurdwara Janam Asthan (Nankana Sahib)

Gurdwara Janam Asthan is an important temple (gurdwara) for the Sikhs, built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 19th century to mark the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. It is located in Nankana Sahib near Lahore, Pakistan.

Above, the Sikh sacred book.

Above, back in Lahore.

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.

Continue reading Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

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.

Hana Matsuri at Zojo-ji

While I was at Zojo-ji, there was a Hana Matsuri (花まつり; literally “Flower Festival”) celebration going on. It takes place at buddhist temples all over Japan around April 8th in order to celebrate the birth of Buddha. During the festival, small shrines decorated with flowers and a baby Buddha figurine bathed in sweet tea are displayed in front of temples. Another symbol of Hana Matsuri is the parades with children in fancy clothes pulling a papier-mâché white elephant.

Tokyo Walk: Temples & Shrines of Minato City

Minato City is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo. In April, I walked from Shinbashi to Roppongi, visiting some of the many shrines and temples of the area along the way.

Above, in front of Shinbashi station.

Above, Karasumori shrine.

Above, colorful goshuin of Karasumori shrine.

Above, Toranomon Hills.

Above, Hibiya shrine.

Above, Shiogama shrine.

Above, Atago shrine.

Above, the stairs leading to the shrine. I took the elevator initially but I went back down to climb the stairs. That’s a lot of steps!

Above, Tokyo Tower.

Above, Jizo statues near Zojo-ji.

Above, gate leading to the graves of some of the Tokugawa shoguns.

Above, Shiba Daijinju shrine.

Above, Shiba Park.

Above, torii to Shiba Toshogu shrine.

Above, Juban Inari Shrine.

Above, the 7 Lucky Gods on a boat.

Above, Izumo Taisha Tokyo Bunshi near Roppongi Hills.

Above, torii to Akasaka Hikawa shrine.

Above, Hinokicho Park near Tokyo Midtown.

Tokyo Walk: Temples & shrines of Asakusa (Part 2)

Continuing the visit to the temples and shrines of Asakusa. First, Imado Shrine, which claims to be the birthplace of the maneki neko (beckoning cat).

Above, Imado Shrine, a love power spot.

Above, those are all enmusubi ema plaques.

Above, daikon at Matsuchiyama Temple.

Above, Matsuchiyama Temple.

Above, Sumida Park.

Above, Asakusa Shrine, near Senso-ji.

Above, swordplay.

Above, a pig!!! I also saw it at Sanja Matsuri.

Above, Senso-ji.

Above, kappa statue at Kappabashi-Hondori.

Above, golden kappa statue.

Above, Yasaki Shrine.

Above, Sougen-ji (aka Kappa Temple).

Above, arcade decoration in Kappabashi Street.

Above, back at Senso-ji for sunset.

Tokyo Walk: Temples & shrines of Asakusa (Part 1)

Asakusa has a large number of shrines and temples in easy walking distance from each other. There is even a pilgrimage of the 7 Lucky Gods, where you can go through a few of those shrines and collect stamps along the way. For myself, I did my own pilgrimage last April. Starting in Uguisudani, the least used station of the JR Yamanote line and finishing at Senso-ji, I visited:

  • Onoterusaki Shrine
  • Otori Shrine
  • Benten Pond
  • Yoshiwara Shrine
  • Tobi Fudoson Temple
  • Ishihama Shrine
  • Hashiba Fudoson Temple

In part 2, I will visit the following:

  • Imado Shrine
  • Matsuchiyama Temple
  • Asakusa Shrine
  • Senso-ji
  • Yasaki Shrine
  • Kappa Temple (Sougen-ji)

Above, train tracks near Uguisudani station.

Above, Onoterusaki Shrine.

Above, Fujizuka. Apparently, it is only open for walking on the 1st of July.

Above, Otori Shrine.

Above, Benten Pond.

Above, Yoshiwara Shrine.

Above, soaplands of Yoshiwara.

Above, kids park near the soaplands.

Above, Tobi Fudoson Temple. It is a reputed to offer protection to travelers.

Above, Ishihama Shrine.

Above, walking next to the Sumida River.

Above, Hashiba Fudoson.

Above, Tokyo Skytree.