Buddhism is one of the most astonishing things that humanity has ever seen throughout the millennia. Essentially a spiritual path, a dharma, that many people call a religion, it has managed to propagate peace, love, and compassion in the hearts of thousands. Thus, today it is time for us to explore some of the most striking temples that have ever been erected in its honour. Pack that spiritual inclination and some food and be prepared for a smooth ride through the tides of enlightenment (wink)!
Also known as Jokang, Qoikang Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery and Zuglagkang, Jokhang is considered by many one of the most spectacular landmarks of the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. Founded by the 33rd Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Serving up a fine blend between the Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian Vihara architectural style, Jokhang is considered by the locals the most sacred temple of their country.
2. Mahabodhi Temple:
Have you ever wanted to explore India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Well, even if the thought has never crossed your mind, you can bask in the brilliance of Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist architectural masterpiece sitting in Bodh Gaya (Bihar, India). Stretching upon an area of nearly 5 hectares and largely rebuilt due to historical damage, the temple harbours the direct descendent of the renowned Bodhi Tree under which Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) attained enlightenment. This one is sure to cause a few gapes, so do not leave it out!
3. Wat Rong Khun:
Well, we have already discussed two fascinating places of worship but they both pertained to an ancient time that we have no direct memory-access to. So, this next one, Wat Rong Khun, is a Chiang Rai-based (Thailand) contestant that will tip the table a bit. Opened to the public in 1997 and considered an architectural masterpiece, people often call it the White Temple. A definite must-photo (wink)!
4. Pha That Luang:
Sitting majestically deep within the heart of the Laotian city of Vientiane, Pha That Luang is not exactly a temple but it is a Buddhist hotspot. Technically a stupa covered with gold, this architectural marvel is said to have been built in the 3rd century. What’s important to know about it is that it is considered a national symbol and also the most important structure in the country.
Decorating the outskirts of the Nepalese city of Kathmandu, Boudhanath is an iconic stupa that reflects the state of Buddhahood itself. Why? Well, because people say that it harbours the remains of the famous Kassapa Buddha. With a mandala large enough to make this architectural wonder one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal, it reaches a maximum height of 36 metres. Oh, and let us not forget about the fact that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
6. Shaolin Monastery:
Well, we could not have made a list of the most exquisite Buddhist hotspots in the world without including Dengfeng’s (Zhengzhou, China) Shaolin Monastery. Quite possibly one of the most famous monastic retreats in the world, it was founded more than 1,500 years ago by the famed Fang Lu-Hao. Along with its surrounding Pagoda Forest, like most previous contestants, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Oh, and did you know that it is still the main Shaolin school of Buddhism in the world?
We could not have ended this list on a higher note, as Borobudur of Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia is the largest Buddhist temple in the entire world. With nine stacked levels called platforms and over 504 Buddha statues, this place is as grandiose as it can get. It was, thus, only fitting that it should be protected by UNESCO and its list of majestic monuments. Oh, and did we mention that the central dome alone is surrounded by 72 aforementioned statues? A definite must-investigate!
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the above-mentioned temples have you visited and what lasting impressions have they left you with? Has the Buddhist lifestyle marked you? Would you visit these majestic structures again? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some exciting new updates and articles whenever you have the time! See you on our next adventure!