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Pu'ukohola Heiau -- The Temple of War – Island of Hawaii ~ Story with more photos below ~

In Hawaiian, Pu'ukohola is translated as "hill of the whale."

Heiau (hay-ow) (temples) were places of worship that were central to Hawaiian religious beliefs.


Note: I know this is a lot of text for a photo but this ones needs explanation :)


From the heiau, the kahuna (priest) communicated with the gods and advised the ali'i (high chief). Pu'ukohola Heiau was constructed for ceremonies related to war. Many heiau once existed throughout the Hawaiian Islands, but their use ceased with the destruction of the kapu (taboo) system in 1819.


**The history of this place --

The Pu'ukohola Heiau was/is special:

While simultaneously trying to conquer and protect not only his portion of Hawai'i , but all the main islands, Chief Kamehameha ordered every man within his vast district on the Island of Hawai'i to participate in its creation, including himself. Women where not allowed within the temple area.


Chief Kamehameha briefly halted construction to do more battles then resumed construction of his heiau: a massive terraced and walled hilltop platform built of mortarless, waterworn lava rocks and boulders – many thousands of heavy stones were passed hand to hand from up to thirty miles away and added to the rising temple walls and grounds.


Measuring about 224 by 100 feet, it contained walls on each end and the landward side, an entrance and seats for the chief and priests, as well as a sacrifice altar. The temple took one year to complete being finished in the summer of 1791.


Chief Kamehameha ordered the heiau build on the recommendation of the prophet of Kaua'I -- Kapoukahi who believed that by doing so with a certain human sacrifice, the ongoing wars between the various rulers and chiefs on Hawaii, and all the islands, would end.


This proved to be true: the last ruling rival of Kamehameha, Keoua was lured to the beach below the heiau and killed before even reaching the shore and sacrificed to the temple. His body was roasted in an imu (cooking pit) and his bones hidden for their mana (power).


The assassination of Keoua gave Kamehameha undisputed control of Hawai'i Island by 1792. Human skulls adorned the outer top wall for about ten years, later replaced by carved statues.


In early 1795 Kamehameha took the islands of Maui, Lana'i, and Moloka'i. With the conquest of O'ahu that year, Kamehameha's aggressive military policy succeeded in bringing all the islands but Kaua'i under his control. In 1810 that island's paramount chief acknowledged Kamehameha's supremacy, completing the consolidation of the islands into the Kingdom of Hawai'i, which Kamehameha ruled as King until 1819 and his descendants until 1872.


Although the monarchy was overthrown in favor of a republic in 1894, it established the foundation for the future state of Hawai'i.


The terraces of Pu'ukohola Heiau dominate the side of a prominent hill overlooking Kawaihae Bay. It is a fascinating accomplishment.


Today only authorized Hawaiians are allowed on the heiau but public pathways offer access below the two rock sections. A short ways below the Pu'ukohola Heiau is the Mailekini temple, built perhaps around 1580.


This photo shows the outer walls of both the upper and lower temples as they look today.


Below are various views of the heiau's:

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Uploaded on April 30, 2007