When Caves and Architecture Collide
Earlier, we took a look at some notably gorgeous natural caves. Here we take a look at what happens when equally beautiful caves get mated with the architectural and artistic abilities of our ancestors (which, sadly, still seem to outdo us by leaps and bounds). Everyone loves a nice old castle, an old temple buried in the jungle, or a gargantuan stone idol devoted to an ancient deity, but it is truly spectacular to see it in all come together inside a mountain.
Some Windows are Bigger than Others…
(images via jumpinjack, jumpinjack)
The Predjamski Grad (that’s Slovenian for Castle in Front of the Cave, literally) dates back to the 12th Century, and sits in front of what’s called Erazem’s Cave. Aside from being stunningly gorgeous on the outside, the site reeks of historical value and traditional folklore. Because of its inherent stronghold-status, being the castle built into a mountain-cave that it is, Predjamski Grad has been through more than its fair share of sieges. Classic stories about this tell show humor, as they describe the confusion of attacking armies at the staying power of those holed up in the castle. They were unaware of the huge network of caves lurking inside the mountain, which actually lead to an exit on the other side.
Big Enough for the Masses
(images via Stuck in Customs, Kristen Elsby, gardkarlsen, virtualtourist)
The Batu Caves in Malaysia are nothing short of mind-bogglingly huge. Meaning “Cave of Rocks,” this location is the hosting site every year for millions of Hindu pilgrims attending Thaipusam, a Hindu New Year celebration. This has been going on for far longer than we’ve been a country (so long in fact, that it doesn’t really matter where you are reading this right now, because it’s still true), and the colossal caves have served the celebrants well. A 242-step flight of stairs leads up to the mountain entrance, where once inside, visitors are greeted by what’s probably the largest room they’ll ever set foot in. Not only is the cave gorgeous, but it’s open and airy, with skylights the size of buildings letting in natural light during the day. The Batu Caves are one of the most visited tourist sites in all of southeast Asia today.
What Once Was Lost…
(images via Ben on Holiday, Guistaff, cfimages)
Most of what we know now in terms of archaeology was either discovered or recovered in the last 200 years, and we think we’re pretty hot stuff for it. We should never forget that people actually built this stuff. One nice tradition for locals in Laos is to make a pilgrimage to the Pak Ou Caves, and visit the collection of nearly 3,000 Buddhas. Whole families will make the journey, and leave their own Buddha statue as a contribution. The photo on the right shows ancient steps leading down into the Khao Luang Cave Temple, in Phetchaburi, Thailand. Situated in Thailand’s largest national park, this beautiful cave-temple is only 100 miles south of Bangkok, and worth the expedition if anywhere near the area. Lastly, rediscovered by accident in 1819 by the british in India, the Ajanta Caves are simply beyond amazing. 29 different Buddhist temples set into a horeshoe-shaped cliffside make up the hugely popular tourist site, some of them dating as far back as the 2nd Century BCE. Nobody knows how long the monks spent carving the extraordinary temples into the cave-walls, or why they were suddenly abandoned so long ago. To be in India and not experience these caves would simply be a crime.