There are many reasons why people visit Buddhist temples. From the beauty of their individual architectural styles to the solace that they facilitate, they have many hooks. For this particular article, we are going to share the most astounding of them all with you. Stay tuned and pack your bags adequately, for you might need to travel long distances (wink)!
1. Angkor Wat:
Today we said that we were going to start off hard with Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Originally built as a Hindu temple consecrated to the god Vishnu, the building slowly shifted perspectives and became a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura, Angkor Wat adheres to the classical Khmer architectural style. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, Angkor Wat is considered the symbol of contemporary Cambodia.
To be fair, Yerpa is not exactly in a good state but it is not less significant than any other Buddhist temple or monastery. Only a few kilometres from Lhasa, Tibet, the complex is not only made of the monastery ruins but also of a few interesting meditation caves. The whole area used to house more than 300 monks and served as summer residence for the Gyuto Lhasa Tantric College. Unfortunately, during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, most of the buildings were destroyed.
3. Tawang Monastery:
Located within the bounds of the Arunachal Pradesh state of India, Tawang Monastery is one of the most prominent edifices pertaining to Buddhism in the world. Surrounded by a sturdy wall with a total length of 282 metres, the complex houses 65 residential buildings and a three-storey monastery. No more than 450 monks occupy the premises and they all serve as proud custodians to the ancient and valuable scriptures that their library possesses. What’s interesting to know about the complex is that it was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso between the years 1680 and 1681 at the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
4. Key Monastery:
This monastery might look a bit dilapidated but you are sure to gasp as you set eyes upon it. Perched on top of a steep hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres, Key Monastery (also known as Kye Gompa) is the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley (between Tibet and India). Not only that, but it is also a vital training centre for Lamas. Founded in the 11th century, the establishment gradually grew and by the time it reached the 19th century, it had more than 100 monks living in it. The monastery celebrated its 1000th birthday (symbolically) with the presence of the Dalai Lama.
5. Ajanta Caves:
Isn’t exactly a temple, now, is it? Well, that assumption would be wrong to some degree for this collection of ruck-cut Buddhist caves did serve the purpose of temples. Located within the bounds of the Aurangabad district of the Maharashtra state of India, these unbelievable creations date back to the 2nd century BC. There are a total of about 30 caves and they house some of the best pieces of ancient Indian art ever to be salvaged. The Ajanta Caves, thus, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 (it is also protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, though).
6. Candi Sewu:
What you are about to find when you visit Candi Sewu is nothing less than astounding. Since the complex is located in Indonesia (Java to be precise), it is called a “Candi” (meaning Hindu or Buddhist temple in Indonesian). In spite of its scintillating spires and general grandeur, it is but the second-largest temple in Indonesia (it is beaten by the majestic Borobudur). The complex consists of a total of 249 temples and it was completed sometime during the 8th century. What’s interesting about it is that archaeologists believe that it used to possess another name: Manjusrigrha.
7. Candi Borobudur:
We could not have left out this magnificent structure – we simply couldn’t. The 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple is located within the bounds of Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, the temple boasts with 2,672 relief panels and 504 outstanding Buddha statues. There is a reason why we are mentioning this contestant last – it is not only the largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia, but in the world!
To be fair, there are so many outstanding Buddhist temples and temple complexes around the world that it was very difficult for us to choose only a few. For this particular reason, we are probably going to return to this subject later.
Did you enjoy our list?
Hit the comment section below and tell us how many of the aforementioned complexes you’ve visited. Safe travels and may the peace of all temples pertaining to enlightened ones guide you!