Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday: Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

After leaving Lapakahi on Sunday morning, we headed south to Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site: one of the best-preserved and most significant heiau (temple) sites in Hawaii.

This was much more touristy than the previous site we visited. The visitor's center had a little film and plenty of displays. And bathrooms :o)

konane = Hawaiian checkers
In 1790 a prophet told King Kamehameha to build a heiau on top of Pu'ukohola and dedicate it to the war god. By doing so, the king would achieve his goal of conquering the Hawaiian Islands. The prophecy came true in 1810. The newest temple sits along "whale hill" and was built by Kamehameha.

No one can enter now unless they're performing an authentic holy Hawaiian ritual. There is an older temple below that and an older one still that is submerged offshore.

Gravity holds the walls together and they were all assembled by hand over the course of a year. Historians believe that thousands of workers formed a human chain 30 miles long to hand-pass the rocks used for the heiau.

The royal courtyard is still there near the beach, the ground flattened from decades of footfalls. 

Next to that, there's a bay of shallow water filled with... sharks. Apparently sharks usually avoid shallow, sun-drenched water, but not here. Their presence has been observed in these dark waters for centuries.

Can you count the fins circling in the water?

As my dad pointed out, it's hard to believe that all of this was happening around the same time the US capital moved from Philadelphia to DC and Lewis and Clark began their expedition up the Mississippi!

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