religion Tag

ostrog monastery, montenegro, orthodox cliff church
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A monastery cut into a cliff

Ostrog Monastery, Montenegro Without giving it too much thought, I join the queue at the top of the monastery. Perhaps it's my partial British heritage that subconsciously prevents me from questioning what the line is for - I just feel compelled to stand behind someone and wait, slowly shuffling ahead with the others. My mind wanders slightly and I look out over the view. At the top of a mountain in central Montenegro, with an expansive valley stretching out below me, it's a good location to enjoy the scenery. I don't really mentally process that everyone in the queue is a local, all the women have their heads covered with scarves, and many are holding bags full of food or clothes. It's only when I'm almost at the end of the queue that I notice the bags are being put into wooden baskets like offerings - but then it's too late. I'm...

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05 August
kyoto temples, shrines, world heritage sites, japan
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One day in Kyoto is never enough

World Heritage in Kyoto, Japan In some ways, Kyoto is the cultural archives of Japan. The city, about an hour from Osaka, was central to Japanese history for well over a thousand years and the marks of that millennium are in every little corner you could possibly explore. If you come to Japan looking for temples and shrines, you’ll hit a divine motherload in Kyoto. There are more than 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. It doesn’t matter how lost you get, you will also find a red tori gate or a smiling Buddha not far away. The religious and historical are inescapable. Kyoto first became the capital of Japan in 794AD and, despite a few periods when the power base was moved, remained the centre of politics until 1868. The imperial family over those centuries constructed much of what you can see today. It has only 1 per cent of the...

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24 May
Khao Luang Cave, Phetchaburi, Thailand, caves in Thailand
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Beam me up, Buddha

Khao Luang Cave, Phetchaburi, Thailand There’s a sudden commotion in the cave. A monkey has snuck in and is scurrying across the rock floor to the corner where the large Buddha sits. The monkey makes a grab at a bit of food that’s been left on the altar as an offering. Before it can make off with the loot, a woman nearby spots the furry thief and throws a water bottle at it. “Ai ai ai ai,” accompanies the lob as the woman screams. The monkey drops the food and races from the cave toward the light coming down the staircase. The monkeys are one of the hazards of visiting the Khao Luang Cave in the Thai city of Phetchaburi. As you approach the entrance – up a hill, across a carpark, along a path, and down some stairs – hundreds of monkeys watch you expectantly. Visitors are one of the best...

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22 May