“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living” said Marcus Tullius Cicero. Different culture treat the dead in different ways. In Tibetan Buddhist culture, people dispose the dead by feeding corpses to vultures. Hindus burn the dead reciting the funeral prayer. However in most of the culture, people bury the dead in complex and ornate tombs, crypts, and catacombs. Let’s have a look at ten most fascinating final resting places around the world.
Top 10 tombs in the world
Newgrange – One of the most impressive prehistoric monuments among top 10 tombs in the world is the Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland. It was built between 3300 BC – 2900 BC. It covers the total area of 4046 metre square. The circular mound is 40 feet in height and 250 feet in width.
Under the circular mound, a long tunnel leads to a high-domed burial chamber, a cor-belled vault with ceilings made up of stone slabs. The entrance is denoted by huge curbstone elaborating megalithic art. Nevertheless, this impressive tomb is the world’s oldest surviving building.
Tana Toraja – Torajans believe that death is not a sudden event but a gradual process towards life after death. The Toraja people in Sulawesi, Indonesia have the most complex funeral ritual in the world. When a person dies, the funeral ceremony lasts for weeks, months and years after death. The the dead is finally buried in a stone cave carved out of a rocky cliff. Toraja cave tombs have balconies, filled with tau tau, a wood-carved effigy.
Westminster Abbey – Initially Westminster Abbey was the burial place of kings, aristocrats, and monks. The gothic church Westminster Abbey is situated in London, United Kingdom. It was established by Benedictine monks in the tenth century. It was rebuilt in the 13th century by King Henry III. Ever since that, it is the coronation church for English royalty as well as the final resting place of monarchs. Many famous writers, poets and scientists were interred here. This one among the top 10 tombs in the world, is a treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and fantastic artifacts.
Giza Necropolis – With over 100 pyramids in Egypt, Giza Necropolis, in Cairo is nevertheless the largest and most complex of all the pyramids. It was built in 2560 BC. It is the house of remains of the deceased Pharaohs who ruled over ancient Egypt.
Pharaoh’s spirit called “ka”, is believed to remain with his corpse. The pyramid is 481 feet tall and 758 feet wide. The smooth exterior of the pyramid was made of fine white limestone. Internal is made up of granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only surviving member among the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Valley of the Kings – Valley of the Kings is the burial ground of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. These are build up of limestone, sedimentary rocks and other coarse stones. Egyptologist, Howard Carter, in 1922, discovered and opened the tomb of Tutankhamen inspite of the warning “Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the King”.
Carter was bitten by a mosquito. He accidentally shaved the bitten area, during shaving, it grew into a large wound and finally resulted in blood poisoning. The tomb has a long rock-cut corridor, leading to one or more halls to the burial chamber. Royal tombs were decorated with religious texts and images.
Catacombs of Paris – The next among top 10 tombs in the world is the Catacombs of Paris. It is a huge network of underground tunnels and small rooms that used to be Roman-era limestone quarries. In 1700s, people in Paris were suffering from a terrible disease caused by improper burials and graves in church cemeteries. Finally the authorities decided to stack the remains in abandoned underground quarries. Only small portion of the tomb, that is 186 miles, is open to the public.
Terracota Army – While drilling for water, the local farmers of Xi’an, China in the year 1974, accidentally stumbled on the burial of Qin Shi Huangdi. He was the First Emperor and the unifier of China. The striking feature of the tomb is that around 8,000 lively statues of soldiers were buried along with Qin Shi Huangdi to help him in ruling even after death.
Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo – The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are burial catacombs in Sicily, southern Italy. When the monastery outgrew, the Capuchin monks mummified the dead bodies, dressed them up in regular clothing and then put them on display on the monastery walls. There are around 8,000 mummies on the walls of the Capuchin monastery and in the catacombs.
The Sedlec Ossuary – The building is an ossuary containing about 40,000 human skeletons artistically arranged to form decorations, chandeliers, and furnishings. The Sedlec Ossuary is in a small Roman Catholic chapel in Sedlec, Czech Republic. The masterpieces were made in 1870 by František Rint, a woodcarver. These features are chandelier made from skull and bones and coat of bone of arms.
The Taj Mahal – “The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.” said the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The so called “Symbol of Eternal Love” is situated in Agra, India. Taj Mahal was built on the order of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz.
The massive central dome, called the onion dome because of its shape, is striking feature with its symmetrical perfection. The white marble tomb, in the center of the complex is flanked on four corners by minarets. The caskets of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are decorated with gems and inscribed with calligraphy, reciting the 99 names of God.
City of the Dead in Northern Ossetia, Russia – Another among the places to visit is the Rugged Gizel valley of Northern Ossetia, Caucasus, Russia, showing small stone buildings that looks like a normal village. But it is actually the house of the dead. It contains in them the mummified bodies dressed in their best clothes and shoes with hair tidily combed.
In 18th century, plague spread all over Ossetia. The localites built houses for their loved sick family members, who were provided with food. They had to live in there until death claimed their lives. A very painful mystery indeed!!