Asia is home to some of the most beautiful temples in the world. From the ancient temples of China, iconic temples of Japan, to the Angkor Wat – the biggest temples complex in the world. These sites are a testament to the region’s rich history and culture, and many of them are the Unesco World Heritage Site.
But what makes these temples so popular? Let’s explore some of the most famous temples in Asia!
Famous Temples in Thailand
The main religion in Thailand is Buddhism, and there are many temples throughout the country that celebrate this religion.
Wat Pho, Bangkok
The Wat Pho complex is located south of the Grand Palace and is home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha. This 46-meter-long statue is made from solid gold and is a popular tourist attraction. The complex also features a school of traditional Thai medicine. The temple is considered the birthplace of Thai massage and the earliest centre for public education in Thailand.
Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River.
The temple is best known for its architecture, which features ornate spires and tiers covered in thousands of pieces of colored glass. Wat Arun is one of the most popular temples in Bangkok and is a must-see for any visitor to the city.
The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna and is among Thailand’s best-known landmarks.
Wat Phra Kaew – Emerald Temple, Bangkok
Wat Phra Kaew is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and houses the statue of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha is a statue of a seated Buddha made from green jade and is said to bring good luck to those who see it. According to legend, the statue was discovered in 1434 when a bolt of lightning struck the chedi (stupa) on the Wat Phra Kaew temple grounds.
The temple was constructed under Rama I in 1783, and each successive king has been personally involved in adding to it.
The temple complex comprises various buildings for specific religious purposes, built in a variety of Thai architectural styles.
Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya
The Wat Mahathat temple in Ayutthaya is one of the most famous temples in Thailand. The temple dates back to the 18th century and is believed to house a relic of the Buddha. The temple is a popular tourist attraction and is known for its beautiful architecture and intricate carvings.
The most photographed spot in the Ayutthaya temples is a stone Buddha head entwined in tree roots.
Wat Rong Khun – White Temple, Chiang Rai
The temple is white in color and features intricate designs and sculptures that are meant to represent the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Most beautiful temples in Cambodia
Angkor Wat Cambodia
Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world.
The Khmer King Suryavarman II built the Angkor Wat temples in the early 12th century. It served as a state temple and capital city.
The temples are famous for their intricate carvings and beautiful architecture and are one of the most popular tourist destinations in South-East Asia.
Angkor Wat is the vast temple complex – the biggest religious monument in the world – that took shape under Suryavarman II in the early 12th century CE.
It was not only a state temple but also the king’s eventual mausoleum. Now seen as the epitome of classical Khmer architecture, it is an iconic symbol of Cambodia and the most known Asian Landmark as well as the Unesco Heritage site.
Angkor Thom is the most enduring and the last capital city of the Khmer Empire. Established by King Jayavarman VII in the late twelfth century, the city served as the empire’s capital until its abandonment in the fifteenth century.
Angkor Thom is famous for its series of colossal stone faces, which are some of the most famous images in Khmer architecture.
The site is a major tourist attraction of south-east Asia.
most famous temple
Ta Prohm is another famous temple in Siem Reap, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
The temple was founded as a Buddhist monastery and university by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana.
Unlike other Angkor temples, Ta Prohm is in much the same condition it was found: overgrown with trees and vines. The temple was featured in the Tomb rider movie, which has made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.
UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992.
The Banteay Srei temple is a Hindu temple in Angkor, Cambodia, dedicated to Shiva. The temple is known for its carvings and is considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in Cambodia.
The temple was built in the 10th century by king Rajendravarman.
Temples in Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The Shwedagon Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in Yangon, Myanmar. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar and is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas.
The pagoda was built on Singuttara Hill. This stunning temple with a 99-metre golden stupa dominates the Yangon skyline.
Thatbyinnyu Temple, Bagan,
The Thatbyinnyu Temple is a Buddhist temple in Bagan, Myanmar. The temple was completed in 1150–51 and reflected the Bagan period’s “innovative architectural and artistic creativity.” At the pinnacle height of 66 m (217 ft), it is known as one of the tallest temples in Bagan.
Temples in China
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
The Temple of Heaven is an imperial ancient temple complex of religious buildings in Beijing, China.
The complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 by the Yongle Emperor and was renovated in the 18th century under the Qianlong Emperor.
Various groups have occupied the temple throughout its history, including the Anglo-French Alliance during the Second Opium War and the Eight-Nation Alliance during the Boxer Rebellion.
The temple grounds cover 2.73 km2 (1.05 sq mi) – it’s the size of Central Park or a few times the size of Vatican – the smallest country in the world.
Yonghe Temple, Beijing
The Yonghe Temple is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism located in Beijing, China. Another popular name for the temple is the Lama Temple.
The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.
Building work on the Lama Temple started in 1694 during the Qing dynasty on an official residence for court eunuchs from the Ming dynasty that was later converted into Yinzhen’s residence (the fourth son of Kangxi Emperor).
Temples in India
Virupaksha Temple, Bangalore
Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi, Karnataka, India. The Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva.
The temple complex contains many smaller sacred shrines and structures. One of the most striking features of this temple is the usage of mathematical concepts to build and decorate it.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple located in the state capital of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in India.
The temple is one of them as the richest place of worship in the world.
Golden Temple of Amritsar, Punjab
The Golden Temple is the holiest site in Sikhism and a major attraction in Amritsar. The temple was constructed by Guru Ramdas Sahib in the 1500s and has been renovated many times.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh rebuilt it in marble and copper in 1809 and overlaid the sanctum with over 750 kilos of gold leaf in 1830. This has led to its name as “The Golden Temple”.
The Lotus Temple, New Delhi
The Lotus Temple is a Baháʼí House of Worship in Delhi, India. It was dedicated in December 1986 and has become a prominent attraction in the city.
The Lotus Temple building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Nine doors open onto a central hall with a height of 34 meters that can seat 1,300 people.
Other famous temples in Asia
Lungshan Temple, Taiwan
The temple was constructed in 1738 as a small temple.
It was later remodeled by local residents to a larger scale and is renowned for its exquisite woodcarvings and stone sculptures. The temple was damaged by an earthquake in 1999 but repaired and reopened in 2008.
Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
Dambulla cave temple is a Unesco World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country.
This site is composed of five caves of varying size and magnificence, dating back to the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa times.
The largest of Dambulla cave measures 52m x23m. The first cave is called Devaraja Lena or “Cave of the Divine King.” In this cave are a 14-meter statue of Buddha, as well as statues of Buddha’s favorite pupil, Ananda; at his head, Vishnu; and King Vattagamani Abhaya.
The second and largest cave is called Maharaja Lena or “Cave of the Great Kings.” It contains 16 standing and 40 seated statues of Buddha.
The Sri Sivan Temple, Singapore
The Sri Sivan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva.
The temple was originally located in Potong Pasir. It was moved three more times before finally coming to the present location, adjacent to Foo Hai Ch’an Buddhist Monastery.
Borobudur Temple, Indonesia
Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang Regency, Indonesia. The temple was built in the 9th century and is the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
Borobudur is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and balustrades.
Borobudur temple is the most visited monument in Indonesia.
Kinkaku-Ji – the temple of Golden Pavilion, Kyoto
•Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Kyoto, attracting many visitors annually.
The site of Kinkaku-Ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai (北山第), belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kitsune.
The pavilion was burned down by a novice monk in 1950 and rebuilt in 1955. The present pavilion structure dates from 1955 and is three stories high, with a pure gold leaf covering the top two stories.
Batu Caves, Malaysia
The Batu Caves is a sacred Hindu temple complex is made up of three main caves and a few smaller ones, with an almost 100 m tall entrance. The biggest cave features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach this spot, visitors must climb 272 steps. Visiting Batu Caves is a great trip out of Kuala Lumpur
Before the entrance, you will find the tallest statue of Lord Murugan; it is 42-meter tall! This figure represents strength in adversity; His pose suggests he’s calling on those who pass by him for protection during times when hope seems lost
Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang
The Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. The temple was built between 1890 and 1930, and it is an important centre for Buddist of Southeast Asia.
The main feature in the temple is the seven-storey Pagoda known as Ten Thousand Buddhas as it holds 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha.
There are also a 36-metre-tall (120 ft) bronze statue of Guanyin (Kuan Yin), the Goddess of Mercy at the temple.
Best temples in Asia – FAQ and summary
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