15 Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

The world is a vast, beautiful place. For those out there struggling with existentialism issues (I completely get it, by the way), you don’t need to go that far and say that we’re tiny and insignificant in the infinity of the universe. We’re just as small and puny in our own world, too! But fear not, this article is actually supposed to induce a positive tone. Since Earth is so big, this also means that are are many corners of the world that have yet to be visited and explored. And I’m not talking about taking a trip into the unknown abyss that is the core of the Earth, but about booking a ticket to an Asian country and visiting one of the 15 Most Beautiful Temples In Asia.

1. Paro Taktsang Monastery

Paro Taktsang Monastery - Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Bhutan
Founded in: 8th century

Despite technically being founded as a meditation temple in the 8th century, its first monastery annex was built in the 17th century, near the cave where it’s said that Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three weeks and three days.

2. Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji

Location: Japan
Founded in: 14th century

The literal translation of the name means “Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” something sustained by its design. The temple is located in Kyoto, known to be an oasis for the most important halidoms in the Nippon area.

3. Borobudur Temple

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia - Borobudur

Location: Indonesia
Founded in: 8th – 9th century

More than being one of the most beautiful temples in Asia, Borobudur is also one of the oldest and the largest temple in the world, with its central dome containing 72 Buddha statues with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues around the premises.

4. Sri Sivan Temple

Sri Sivan Temple Is One Of The Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Singapore
Founded in: 19th century

Initially present in Potong Pasir, the temple, which is a place of daily prayers towards Shiva, now resides in Geylang. Although it’s one of the more newly built temples, it’s equally stunning and extravagant.

5. Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia Include Padmanabhaswamy

Location: India
Founded in: 16th century

This temple is as glamorous as the kings that built it. Not only is it one of the most beautiful temples in Asia, it also holds an official Guinness Book Record for being the richest temple in the world, going by the quantity and quality of the gold and precious stones decorating it.

6. Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha, Part Of The Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Bangalore
Founded in: 7th century

When the temple was built all the way in the 7th century, it was initially a small construction that was meant to venerate the god Shiva, known there as Virupaksha, consort of local goddess Pampa. Over the centuries, though, it grew in proportions and turned into the spectacular building we see today.

7. Sanctuary of Truth

Sanctuary of Truth - Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Thailand
Founded in: 20th century

For a temple, the Sanctuary of Truth definitely comes off as a bit… threatening. This is probably what the Iron Throne would look like, in an alternate universe where it’s actually a Buddhist and Hindu temple. It’s one of the newest constructions on our list, since it’s still under construction, with a due date in 2050.

8. Yonghe Temple

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia - Yonghe Temple

Location: China
Founded in: 17th century

The temple, more popularly known as the Lama Temple, has traversed quite a few moments since the beginning of its construction during the Qing Dinasty. Initially meant to host eunuchs serving the emperor, it then became the court of Yin Zhen, son of Kangxi Emperor, and it eventually was opened for public display, as a temple.

9. Sri Senpaga Vinayagar

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Has Earned A Spot As Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Singapore
Founded in: 19th century

The temple was built around 1850, initially taking on a modest shape. It gets its name from the Lord Vinayagar, whose statue was discovered near the shore the temple was eventually constructed on. These days, it’s a luxurious shrine dedicated to Hindu god Ganesha, and one of the most beautiful temples in Asia.

10. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Is Considered One Of The Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Cambodia
Founded in: 12th century

Angkor Wat was initially built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, having been converted towards the end of the 12th century into a Buddhist temple. In our days, it holds the title of the largest religious monument in the world, measuring 162.6 hectares.

11. Temple of Bacchus

Temple of Bacchus - Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Lebanon
Founded in: 2nd century

If you’re thinking that the architecture of this temple doesn’t exactly reek of Asian culture, then that’s because it was built by the Romans as a tribute to the wine god, Bacchus. It’s one of the best preserved Roman construction today, being considered a World Heritage site.

12. Lotus Temple

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia - Lotus Temple

Location: India
Founded in: 20th century

Another contemporary sacred construction, the Lotus Temple takes its name from the shape that manages to give it a modern air. It’s one of the most profitable attractions in New Delhi, having earned since its opening numerous architectural awards and over 70 million visitors from all around the world.

13. Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun, On This List As Most Beautiful Temples In Asia

Location: Thailand
Founded in: 20th century

Take one look at the picture and you’ll be able to see why Wat Rong Khun is more commonly known worldwide as The White Temple. However, this isn’t how it’s always looked. The original temple was near collapsing near the end of the 20th century, when a private investor decided to fund its renovations. Today, it’s displayed to the world as both a Buddhist temple and a host for various art exhibitions.

14. Shwedagon Pagoda

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia Are Completed By Shwedagon Pagoda

Location: Myanmar
Founded in: 6th century

At 325 feet tall, the “Great Dagon Pagoda” as it’s literally translated to, is as mighty as it is glamorous. It was built by the Mon people, on a foundation of bricks coated in gold plates, and it was furnished by thousands of diamonds and rubies all over its exterior.

15. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Most Beautiful Temples In Asia Conclude With Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Location: Indonesia
Founded in: 17th century

For a construction with such a complex name, it’s probably one of the more modest looking entries on our list. This water temple stands on a patch of land, surrounded Lake Bratan, in Bali. It was built in order to honor the river and lake goddess Dewi Danu.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my appetite for traveling has grown immensely upon (virtually) visiting these incredible places. Nature is certainly amazing, but some of the things can are crafted from the hands of a human are just as mind blowing, just like the 15 Most Beautiful Temples In Asia.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

5 New Year’s Eve Tidbits

It’s New Years Eve! So you’re probably reading this as you’re waiting for the party to start in a few hours.

But, what’s with all the fuss about New Year’s Eve anyway? Why do people celebrate it so vigorously? When was the first time it was held officially? What are some of the traditions?

If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and are wondering about all these things, you might find some answers in the 5 New Year’s Eve tidbits offered in the lines below.

1. Origins

Mesopotamian Engraving on Wall

The passing to the new year was celebrated as early as 4,000 – 2,000 years BC by the Mesopotamians and other ancient cultures, though they didn’t have a fixed date and relied instead on the first moon appearing after certain events.

The month of January was introduced into the Roman calendar around 700 BC by King Numa Pompilius to honor the God of beginnings and transitions, doors and gates, Janus. He was said to have two faces one looking forward and one looking back.

2. Lights And Bangs

5 New Year's Eve tidbits - the Chinese use of fireworks for celebration (as depicted in the photo) was the first such usage in the world.

The invention of fireworks took place in China in the time of the Tang Dynasty (7th century AD). Since fire and loud sounds were considered by many ancient cultures to ward off demons, fireworks were a nifty conglomeration of both and initially served the same function.

Though nowadays they are used to denote exuberance and the arrival of the new year, it’s good to know that as a side-effect those pesky demons are still kept (perhaps unwittingly) at bay.

3. Midnight = Kissy Time

Kissing at midnight, as shown in the picture, is one of the 5 New Year's Eve tidbits.

The tradition to kiss your partner at midnight or find someone to kiss at midnight if you’re single has its roots in old German folklore.

Though it was more tame there, because the belief was simply that whomever you would meet/see first in the New Year would signal good or bad fortune. So, an enemy or someone whom you despised or were despised by would obviously be bad, while a friend or someone you liked/admired would be good.

Now this doesn’t mean that when you’re at the party with just your best mate (read same sex simply friend) drinkin’ and jokin’ tonight you should go “Whoa! It’s midnight!” and plant a kiss or just gaze intently at no other person. He or she might find it awkward if he or she doesn’t happen to be a student of old German traditions.

4. “This I vow!”

The list of 5 New Year's Eve tidbits includes resolutions, like those presented in the photo.

Yes, yes. Resolutions. We all know them. We’ve all taken them at the beginning of the year. And I’m not going to say that we all broke at least a few during the years (that much is obvious), because one still hopes that this year we’ll be able to keep them and be happier(?) as a consequence.

Just know that they’re not a new thing. In fact, ancient cultures like the Babylonian one are reported to have included New Year resolutions. And since Jesus came into the scene and Christianity became one of the biggest religions, adherents all over were encouraged to think on their past mistakes and sins on the first day of the New Year and try to, you know, not do ’em this year, ok?

So, best of luck! You can do it!

5. Happy Mistake

Champagne bottle being opened.

Is the New Year’s Eve drink of choice for most of the world on, under Western Civilization’s influence.

Who would’ve thought an accident would become so popular and last for centuries?

Because the origins of Champagne lie with some Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire. In 1531, they bottled up some wine which was not finished fermenting and the road to the fizzy drink we love nowadays was opened.

Add to that an English physician and scientist (Christopher Merret) who further developed the recipe into the “methode champenoise” (attested 1662) by adding sugar to produce a second fermentation and then a monk whose name is now known more for the eponymous famous Champagne (Dom Perignon) and you get a drink that’s just right for parties and celebrations.

Cheers to that! And Happy New Year! (sips Champagne)

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

3 Epic Historical Parties

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, our brains are already bracing for the massive abuse they will endure at the New Year’s Party. And the After-Party. And the Second Day After New Year’s Party.

Yet, despite the initial reflex of impending biological doom, there’s also the after-taste of excitement. Because let’s face it, New Year is the time when the best parties are thrown. Everybody’s free from work and expecting to get loose and wild before the coming year plunges everyone back into routine and new work.

So, if a New Year party’s done right, it will be memorable. For good or for worse.

In order to put things into perspective, in the lines below you’ll get to read about 3 epic historical parties that left such a lasting impression they are still known today.

Feel free to gawk at the level of craziness their protagonists took it back in the day, just don’t get inspired to organize something like this or emulate it yourself. Remember that most of these events were given their momentum by out-of-this-world personalities, huge celebrities or leaders of the time. With the resources to match. And in all cases there were dark sides and negative aspects to the wild partying too.

And I’m not just talking about the next day embarrassment for your deeds immortalized on social media, because they didn’t have the technology then. But we do nowadays! So you have that added worry to take into account!

1. The Saving Punch

3 epic historical parties - Andrew Jackson's Inauguration Party depicted in this drawing.

When Andrew Jackson got elected President for the first time in 1829, crowds went wild.

He was a war hero and his political platform relied a lot on populism. That is, the political ideology that in theory means the adopter believes in the rights of the common people and is “on their side”. Frequently though, history has proven that some politicians blur the line between populism and demagogy (read keep ’em happy with the measures you take, regardless of consequences, or keep ’em happy with false promises altogether).

No matter the category in which Andrew Jackson fits, the point is that the people adored him. And he knew how to keep on being liked too. As evidenced, among many other things, by the fact that he was the first President to invite the American public at large to attend his inauguration at the White House.

So when he got to there to be invested, 21,000 supporters were waiting as well. On the lawn. Because they had by-passed the measly measures designed to hold them out.

He threw a party which got so out of control that eventually, when the White House was full of out of control commoners smashing things, he had to climb out of a window to get free and distract the attention of the crowds with big tubs of punch placed on the lawn for their consideration.

2. Hippie Get-Together

One of the 3 epic historical parties is Woodstock 1969, photographed here.

Woodstock 1969. The coolest concert in recent history. Everybody has heard about it. Even those who have nothing to do with the hippie culture or rock in general.

Probably because of the 500,000 people that gathered there and partied for three days. The kicker? All that make love not war, peace and hippie tolerance really worked, apparently, because there were no violent incidents, no riots, no intervention by police or riot troops.

Which is impressive for 500,000 people compacted in a ~1 square mile area (Max Yasgur’s dairy farm, where the concert was held, near White Lake, Bethel, NY).

Of course, there was rampant drug use, unprotected sex (read venereal diseases roulette fiesta), babies conceived without a clear indication of the father, starvation and dehydration as well as appalling hygiene. The latter three because it was practically impossible to move through the throngs to get water food or go to the toilet.

3. Game Time

The list of 3 epic historical parties includes the Inauguration of the Colosseum, depicted here.

When most people hear “Game Time!” they imagine entertainment based on some form of competitive sports.

This definition holds true for the ancient Romans too.

If “entertainment based on some form of competitive sports” also includes people hacking at each other to death with various implements of destruction at the mercy of the ruler and for the amusement of the crowds.

Yup, gladiators. The pro-athletes that quite possibly had the shortest career span in history and that make any modern extreme sports athlete look like a Frisbee player by comparison.

But if gladiator games in general are thought of as extreme, the Roman Emperor Titus took it to a whole ‘nother level.

He completed the building of the Colosseum (the biggest gladiatorial stadium ever) and inaugurated it in the year 80 AD. He had the good sense to throw an appropriate party for the occasion too, which is, by far, the biggest party that took place so far.

It lasted for three months (100 days) during which the whole of Rome celebrated. It featured orgies, drinking, more drinking, 9,000 animals slaughtered in combat with gladiators, some more drinking, human to human gladiatorial fights between 2 competitors or groups, and two mock naval battles (called “naumachia”) to top it off.

One of these battles might have been staged within the Colosseum, which was flooded with water for the purpose and real ships were brought in for the fighters.

How many people, you ask? Well, at least 55,000 which was the capacity of the Colosseum. To make a comparison, the biggest stadium in the world at the time of this writing is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in North Korea, which can hold 150,000 spectators, followed on a distant second place by the Michigan Stadium with 107,600.

55,000 in 80 AD would be at least the equivalent of Woodstock in modern times. Especially since there were far less people in the world at the time, so proportionately it is beyond impressive.

So yeah, a bloody, violent Woodstock is the most memorable party ever. Who’d have thought?

Image source: 1, 2, 3.

3 Random Major Scientific Falsehoods Thought Facts

Knowledge keeps accumulating for the human race. And as it does, what was hard fact yesterday becomes questionable tomorrow or it becomes downright false. Such is the way of incremental progress.

Add to that the effect of popular, opinion altering influences like popular media or authoritative sources and the problem becomes even more complicated.

 This has happened in all ages of history, so it doesn’t have anything to do with how technologically advanced, modern, or “civilized” a population is, much to our inflated modern egos.

In fact, it can be argued that the Age of Speed, coupled with the boost in information, has in fact brought about the Age of Information Overload and consequently, much more false information flying around from “respectable” sources than it used to.

So in the interest of pointing out a few such instances, here’s 3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts, in some cases even today.

1. Humans Pop In Vacuum

3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts - eyes pop out in vacuum, like depicted in this scene from Total Recall.

A common myth, probably popularized by the in-its-time very popular movie “Total Recall”, is that if humans are exposed to a very low pressure atmosphere, or the vacuum or space, their eyes will pop out of their skulls in the matter of seconds.

In other sci-fi depictions, the whole human explodes due to differences in pressure or some such.

In reality, as confirmed by very brief accidental exposure of astronauts to the vacuum of space and by scientific analyses on the subject, you can survive for 15 seconds without any side-effects at all. After that, for the next 5 seconds, you become confused. After 20 seconds you become unconscious due to lack of oxygen. Over 80 seconds, you will certainly die, due to the loss of oxygen and other gases from your body, as well as the outer layers of cells that have collapsed and died.

But you won’t go pop.

2. Lightning Never Strikes Twice…

Sketch of a lightning rod system.

…in the same place. That’s what immediately came to your mind when you saw the first part, right?

Because this belief had become so ingrained into the collective consciousness, that cultures all over the world held it to be a true fact. So much so that it became a proverb.

Which is weird. Considering… you know, ummm lightning rods? Which are designed to attract lighting so that it doesn’t hit other things that you might care about? Like your barn or some high tech alien searching satellite dish you have installed.

So, this one’s easy. If the lightning does strike a lightning rod more than once during the same storm, it must mean that there are certain principles that govern where lightning strikes (hint: it loves metal). So, you can not only expect it to strike twice in the same place, you can even direct it (sort of) to where you want it to strike repeatedly. Nifty, huh?

Oh, and of course, the end-all argument is that even Iron Maiden had doubts about this. As they kept repeating on the chorus of “Lightning Strikes Twice” (hint in the title here too): “Maybe lightning strikes twice/ Maybe lightning strikes twice/ Maybe lightning strikes twice … etc.”

3. Sunflowers Follow The Sun

One of the 3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts - sunflowers follow the sun - is contradicted by this picture of sunflowers facing east, away from the sun.

That’s why they’re called sunflowers!

Yes, but unfortunately it’s another case of a misconception that stuck.

Heliotropic plants are plants that orient their flowers or their seeds to aim at the sun as it progresses across the sky. Sadly, despite their names, sunflowers are not heliotropic plants.

As can be seen in many time-lapse videos of a sunflower field from sunrise to sunset. And also confirmed by many botanists who somehow can’t manage to eliminate this belief.

The only time in its life at which a sunflower moves is during its growth, when the bud slowly changes its orientation as it grows. However, once it’s figured out that the sun rises from the East and the plant has finished growing, it will remain pointing in that direction for the rest of its life.

Ergo, all sunflower plants do point towards where the sun rises in the morning, but they can’t be bothered to follow it around all day. Imagine all the contortionist skills that would involve.

Image source: 1, 2, 3.

6 Winter Holiday Drinks

Four days away from Christmas, people are already tuning into the Winter Holiday mood. Which is great, because the more jolly people around, the less of the usual drama that takes place during the rest of the year (yes, including during the commute home when traffic brings out the best and most sincere parts of people to the surface…).

So, in order to help this feel good and friendly vibe on its way, I’ve wrapped up a few drinks that are perfect for this time of year. I mean, hey, what’s more guaranteed to make someone jolly, giddy and red in the cheeks than a sip of a good beverage fit for the occasion?

So, without further a due, here’s  6 winter holiday drinks that you should consider for the upcoming get-together and parties with your friends and loved ones.

1. Hot Spiced Mead

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Spiced Mead as pictured here.

Ah, the traditional warmer of the Northern peoples. And not only, as evidence suggests it was prepared all over the world in ancient times and might even be “the ancestor of all fermented drinks,” according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat.

It is indeed a drink that results from the fermentation of honey and water. A great variety of spices can be added according to taste (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, etc.) as well as extra honey. Heat it up and serve it with good companions for a warm reception.

2. Mulled Wine

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is mulled wine like that in the photo.

Another classic. Just grab some red wine, add spices and sugar and heat it up.

Depending on how sweet or dry the wine is, you’ll have to greatly adjust the quantity of sugar you add to the wine. Taste it from time to time.

As regards the spices, these may vary. Feel free to experiment and find out what you like. However, you can’t go wrong with cinnamon, as it’s a staple of mulled wine. And has been so throughout the ages and cultures.

3. Christmas Brews

The list of 6 winter holiday drinks includes Christmas Brews like those present in the photo.

Near the Winter Holiday, each year, most breweries put out their Christmas Brew. This is usually special in some way. Either because it is based on a recipe which is more “exotic” than the year-long offerings. Or because (oddly enough and in a blatant show of consumer disregard the rest of the time), the quality of the beer is noticeably higher.

Not to mention that there is a limited number of such beers produced each year, so there’s also the element of scarcity that makes them interesting.

There are many offers available. Just look out for the Christmas Brew of your favorite brewery. Chances are, they make one. And if your family members or buddies are also beer drinkers, it will make for a welcome change.

4. Hot Chocolate With Brandy

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Chocolate With Brandy

Perfect mix. And mega-warm-up-er. Make any kind of white or black hot chocolate (sweet, bitter, your choice), and then give its warmth factor a few extra miles by adding a good dose of brandy.

Now you probably shouldn’t add so much that it becomes brandy with a touch of chocolate. Just enough to make the brandy noticeable and add its pleasant roughness to the chocolate’s sweetness.

5. Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum Cocktail

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is hot pumpkin buttered rum cocktail

It takes just about 5-10 minutes to prepare. And you need just brown sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, butter,  rum and water.

You mix the first three in a blender. Put the result in a cup, add the butter and rum and then pour hot water on top. Presto! A great beverage to keep you warm with an exquisite and intriguing flavor to boot. Not to mention the creaminess.

6. Whiskey

6 winter holiday drinks - Single Malt Whiskey, like those in the photo.

That’s right. There’s nothing like whiskey to keep you energized (and gasping for air as you deal with its strength). I’m talking of course about the traditional, single malt variety. And of high quality brands with decades of tradition.

If you haven’t let yourself sip an excellent single malt whiskey by the fireplace, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try buying a 12 year old (or better still an 18 year old!) Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, hell pretty much anything that has Glen in it (kidding).

It might sound simple because “it’s just whiskey in a glass”, right? But don’t be deceived. These world class whiskeys have tons of flavor and personality. Featuring varied smell, taste and after taste. To give just one intriguing example, if you buy a Lagavulin, most reviewers agree that you can taste a campfire in it – it’s that smokey.

But I guess you’ll have to decide for yourself. Just don’t, by God, put ice, water or anything else in it. Keep it straight. And you’ll be amazed how complex and satisfying it can be.

Cheers! And a happy Winter Holiday!

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.