Exploratorius Redux

Atelier Aquarell & Fotografie

The View At Mo’okini Heiau


Thatched temple building at Mo’okini Heiau
Hawi, Hawaii — April 2009
Leica D-LUX 4 + 24-60mm

This is a thatched temple — one of many that were here at one time — and it can be found at Mo’okini Heiau, the oldest and most sacred heiau located within Hawaii.  The rest of the sacrificial temple at this location is to the right of the thatched temple, just outside of the camera frame.

Much is written about this heiau… how it was created around 480 AD, how the massive rock temple was built in one night by nearly 20,000+ people using stones that were hand-carried from a quarry some 12 miles away, how this heiau became the war temple of Kamehameha the Great during the end of the 18th century, and — more significantly — the claim that “many tens of thousands” of people were ritually sacrificed here during the time when the Hawaiian Islands were ruled by the kapu (taboo) system.  This site was once considered so sacred that no one other than priests were allowed to visit it until 1978, when the centuries-old taboo was finally lifted to allow visitors.

Many modern accounts describe the place as being totally silent, menacing, eerie, ghostly, spooky, and other negative terms — but I found it to be a peaceful place, full of solitude, stark beauty, strong winds, and fresh ocean scents.

If you decide to come here, please be aware that the road is generally considered impassable for regular 2-wheel drive passenger cars (no, don’t even think of driving your cheap rental car here), and impassable to ALL vehicles — even 4x4s — after a rain storm.  “Impassable” here means you’ll have to get a tow if you risk driving to the site, as the dirt road is cratered for its entire length with immensely deep potholes that are filled with slippery mud that has all the consistency of slick axle grease.  Instead, just park the car and walk in.  All total, it’s about a 4-mile round-trip hike that is a nice stretch of the legs after driving all the way up to this remote site.

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