ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Himmapan Forest and the Creatures Who Live There

Updated on January 3, 2020
Sam Shepards profile image

I love travelling in Asia. Most visited countries are Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. I hope you enjoy my articles.

If you travel through Southeast Asia, you’re likely to see carvings of strange animals throughout temples and other architecture you see, as statues, in paintings, in decorative doorways, and more. These animals might look similar to real-world animals, but there’s something a bit mystical about them. These are the creatures of the Himmapan Forest, a legendary location important to both Buddhist and Hindu mythology.

The Himmapan Forest

The legendary Himmapan Forest (Himavanta) is said to be located somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains between India and Nepal. The forest, however, is not accessible to mortal humans. It lies beneath the Buddhist heaven, and it cannot be seen or entered by mortals. The Himmapan Forest appears in a number of important Buddhist and Hindu texts. Perhaps the most important is the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic poem written in India over 2,000 years ago, and its Thai version, the Ramakien.

The Ramayana tells the story of Rama (the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu) and his wife Sita. Exiled from his kingdom, Rama arrives in the Himmapan Forest, which is full of demons and mythical animals. After Sita is kidnapped, Rama allies with a number of creatures, most notably a group of flying monkeys, in order to rescue her. Throughout the tale, Rama, Sita, and the other characters interact with many amazing creatures. The Ramayana became highly influential in both Buddhist and Hindu literature and culture, and so Himmapan Creatures also spread far and wide throughout Southeast Asia.

Himmapan Creatures

The creatures of Himmapan Forest are an interesting mix of the familiar and the extraordinary. Many of them are creatures that combine the forms of multiple animals. Features come from a wide range of animals, including deer, lions, horses, rhinos, elephants, cattle, monkeys, dogs, birds, fish, crocodiles, and crabs. The kochasri, for example, is a lion with an elephant’s trunk, and the asura waypuk has an eagle’s bottom half and a giant’s top half.

As this shows, a number of the creatures have human features. Even those who do not often have humanoid intelligence and can speak with the human characters of mythology. While many of the creatures mix the features of real-world animals, some are purely made up. Others incorporate mythological creatures such as dragons. In art or architecture, you may see different interpretations of the same animal. This is because depictions come largely from descriptions in ancient manuscripts, and over time artists have interpreted them differently.

Have your read the Ramayana or other Hindu epics or philosophy?

See results

Where to See Himmapan Creatures

If you are interested in Hindu or Buddhist art or architecture, you will likely see Himmapan creatures quite frequently. They are present in illustrations, murals, artifacts, statues, decorative stonework, and more. If you are traveling in Southeast Asia, you can see Himmapan creatures while visiting palaces, temples, and museums. From anywhere, you can find examples of creatures in any illustrations of the Ramayana or other ancient Hindu texts.

You may also wish to visit himmapan.com, which contains an excellent breakdown of the different kinds of Himmapan creatures and examples of how they appear in artistic depictions. If you take a look through some of these images before traveling, you’ll be able to identify Himmapan creatures at various sites throughout Thailand, India, Laos, or other Southeast Asian countries.

Further Reading

  • Campbell Joseph. Oriental Mythology (The Masks of God Book 2). Joseph Campbell Foundation, 2014, 634p.
  • Buck William. Ramayana: 35th Anniversary Edition. University of California Press, 2012, 464p.

© 2020 Sam Shepards

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)