I have always been fascinated by the flow of human history and how ideas, knowledge and inventions move around the globe to the most distant places. Whether it is the creation of a canoe or the birth of a concept such as religion, that channel seems to ebb and flow with the results of human ingenuity and endeavors.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions yet it has no single recognizable founder, no set place of origin, nor does it owe its philosophy to a specific book, but it does offer a single creator – Brahma. Hinduism spread as most things do along ancient trade routes into Southeast Asia and Indonesia but remained confined primarily to Asia.
Today, some 13.4% of the world population practice Hinduism. Cosmic themes connect them all and have been created and revered in earthly manifestations around the world from Cambodia to India and beyond for centuries.
Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia is the world’s largest religious monument. The entire complex was built between the 8th to 15th centuries CE. Angkor Wat, means “City Temple” in Khmer. The initial design of the temple of Angkor Wat itself took place in the first half of the 12th century and was dedicated to Vishnu. It was the king’s state temple and capital city. Towards the end of the century, Angkor Wat gradually evolved from Hindu into Buddhism, which it remains today.
Some 6,471 miles away, Virupaksha Temple, part of Hampi’s Group of Monuments, is in Karnataka, India. Virupaksha was also originally was constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma together are the three deities of the Trimurti in Hinduism. This temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi and had been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries.
Each temple has evolved far distance from one another and molded over time by separate cultures but carved by myths both similar and strange. In both temples, the religious motifs derived from myths and legends of Hinduism, and dedicated to the gods Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. Exploring these and other remarkable sites, you gain a sense of the threads that weave together a world of connections that touch us all in one form or another.
Explore the rich faiths the world has to offer beginning in Southern India’s Vijaynagar Empire or with Cambodia’s Unique Treasures.