Buddhism is a religion loved by all and Buddhist Temples are spiritual places that everyone should visit at least once. A religion based on non-violence and unity Buddhism was founded in the 5th century CE. The prince of the area Siddharth Gautama had given the life of Aristocracy and became a philosopher and teacher. He attained enlightenment or Nirvana in Bodh Gaya under a Bodhi tree.
Today around half a billion people are Buddhist around the world, that 9-10% of the world’s population. Buddhist are found in almost every region of the world and that is why you can find Buddhist temples all around the world as well.
Around the world, every country has Buddhist temples which are more in tune with their own culture. Each Buddhist temple depicts the culture and the teachings of the people of that region.
Buddhist temples are not just a place of worship but a place of peace tranquillity and learning. So, that is why every temple will be a place where you can find a place for learning that will calm you down instantly and soothe all your worries.
Let’s take a look at 20 such Buddhist temples around the world.
20 Marvelous Buddhist Temples around the world
1.Wat Rong Khun, Thailand
This Buddhist temple is one of the most beautiful temples around the world. It is a privately owned temple which is owned by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. It was opened in 1997 for the public. The whole structure is made of pure white plaster and glass. The white plaster represents Buddha’s purity and the glass of his wisdom.
Other than the Buddhist concepts of hell, heaven, and earthly sins can all be found in the sculptures of the temple. Kositpipat plans on making a complex adjacent to the temple into a place of learning where Buddhist teachings can be learned. This Buddhist Temple should be on one’s list if you ever plan to visit Buddhist temples around the world.
This Buddhist temple is not only a Buddhist temple that has a fusion of Shinto religion as well. It has a rich history of its name. The story goes that a monk from India, Ragyo Shonin, had arrived there following a river and found the Nachi Falls. This is where he decided to practice his austerities. After that many monks came to this place to practice their austerities. It was burned during the civil war of Japan in the early 16th century and was built again in 1587 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
It was abolished in the Meiji era(1868-1912) because of the emperor’s rule to separate Shinto shrines from Buddhist Temples. It was rebuilt due to the popularity and importance of the whole route of the Kii-range. In 1918 many archaeologically significant artifacts were found at the base of the waterfall. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. If you ever visit Japan be sure to visit this beautiful and serene Buddhist temple.
3.Mahabodhi Temple, India
This Buddhist temple is one of the most revered Buddhist temples around the world by all Buddhist. The temple is built in Bodh Gaya, India. This is said to be the site where Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. The Buddhist temple was first built by emperor Ashoka, in the 250BCE. The monastery and temple originally built by Ashoka have been lost but the structure that stands today has been built during the Gupta empire.
It has a Bodhi tree, in the complex which is said to be the direct descendant of the bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. The temple structure has a 55-meter high shikhara and has seen many repairs done to it. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is Managed by the Bihar government and the Mahabodhi Temple Committee.
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4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
This Buddhist temple is again a fusion temple. The Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument in the world. Spread over an astonishing 162.6 hectares or 402 acres of land. The Buddhist temple was originally built as a Hindu temple and gradually over the years has turned into a Buddhist temple.
The temple when built was dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, and has the whole galleries filled with linear stone carving depicting the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and many other important Hindu stories.
This magnificent Buddhist temple was built sometime in the 12th century under the reign of the Khmer empire by King Suryavanshnam II. The Buddhist temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage in Danger and is now a World Heritage Site. The temple is admired for its Grandeur and Harmony, and the shire brilliance of its architecture.
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5.Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii
This beautiful Buddhist temple is a replica of the original Byodo-in Temple in Japan. The Buddhist temple was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate Japanese Immigrants coming to Hawaii and the Japanese Culture becoming a part of the Hawaiian culture as well. The Buddhist temple is not an actively functioning Buddhist temple because there are no monastic residents nor an active congregation hosted by the temple.
The Buddhist temple is Spread over 11,000 sq ft and has two koi ponds on either side of it along with a Japanese garden that just Increases the beauty of the complex. This Buddhist temple welcomes people of all religions to be a part of their culture. Alongside worship, the Temple is often used for Marriages and important events.
This Buddhist temple is a true enigma of Nature. The Temple itself is nestled in the caves of Mountain, on a steep climbing route. This temple on our list of Buddhist temples standing today was built in 1692 around Taktsang Senge Samdup cave. This is said to be the location where Indian Guru Padmasambhava had meditated for four months in the 8th century. Over the centuries many Monasteries have been built in the caves, many Buddhist have visited the caves to meditate.
The story of this Monastery goes that Tenzin Rabgye was the reincarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. He is the one who built this Buddhist Temple. The story is further backed by the legends speaking of anyone visiting for worship never got hurt despite the dangerous route and that there was once a shower of flowers that disappeared before they ever touched the earth. The Buddhist temple has seen a firebreak in 1998 which damaged many ancient artifacts and paintings, it has since been restored by the government of Bhutan and the king of Bhutan.
7. Taung Kalat, Myanmar
Have you wondered what it would be like to have a whole building on top of a volcano? Well, you can see it for yourself. The next Buddhist temple on our list is the Taung Kalat on top of Mount Popa. The beauty of this Buddhist temple is only enhanced when you learn that the temple is situated on top of Mount Popa, an extinct volcano. It is situated on top of a volcanic plug that was formed after some geological activity around the volcano.
The Buddhist temple is built on the plug which is 737ft high. There are several other nat shrines Along the path of the Mountain with this Buddhist temple being one of them. The Buddhist temple is reached after climbing 777 steps which take roughly 20 minutes to climb. But do be careful the Monkey along the way can get a bit aggressive. If you are an adventure lover then this Buddhist temple is the place for you.
This Buddhist temple had been lost to society for a few centuries. The Borobudur Temple in Indonesia has the title of the Largest out of all the Buddhist Temples in the world only behind the Bagan and Angkor Wat. This majestic structure has Nine stacked platforms of which six are square and three are circular; they are topped off by a central dome. The whole structure is decorated with 504 statues of Gautam Buddha and 2672 Relief Panels. The central Dome also has 72 Buddha statues each placed inside a stupa.
The Buddhist temple was built in the 9th century during the Sailendra Dynasty. It was abandoned sometime during the early 1000s though, the reason for its abandonment is a mystery. For ages, it lay abandoned under a natural overgrowth of jungle and lairs of volcanic ash. It was in 1841 when the then Governor of Indonesia under the British rule had it excavated again and that was when it was rediscovered.
In recent times it has been restored with the efforts of the Indonesian Government and UNESCO as it is a World Heritage Site. Now it is an active place of worship, and every year the Indonesian festival of Vesak is celebrated here.
9.Shwedagon Zedi Daw, Myanmar
This Buddhist Temple is also known as the Golden Pagoda. It has the honor of being one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in the world. Standing at 121 mt and 170 mt above the sea level, this Buddhist temple is covered in gold and rich history. The stories say that two merchant brothers meet Gautam Buddha in his lifetime and got eight strands of his hair which they presented to the King of Donga.
The king then built a stupa which Incased these strands of hair along with the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, and the piece of the robe of Kassapa. All of these were relics that are said to be of the buddha’s of this Kalpa before Gautam Buddha.
The Structure itself is a beautiful sight, with the base covered in gold plates and then the stupa which is topped by the turban, the lotus and banana bud, and finally the umbrella crown. It has been a tradition for the royal monarchs and people to donate gold to maintain the gold plating of the temple. This Buddhist temple is the most sacred site in all of Burma.
10.Kek Lok Si Temple, Malaysia.
The Largest Buddhist Temple of Malaysia, this beauty stands 160ft high and has a whole complex of temples. The Main Attraction is the complex is the seven-story Pagoda of Rama VI or the pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. The temple is a blend of Chinese rituals, Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. It was built over forty years from 1890-1930, although it was completed in 1905.
It is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and other Southeast Asian countries. The temple complex houses many different Prayer halls and pavilions for assemblies, it also features various bodhisattvas and Chinese gods. There is also a monastery that houses the monks and nuns. The temple translates to the “paradise temple” and as such has been referred to as “Heavenly Temple”, “Pure Land Temple” and “Temple of Supreme-Bliss”.
11. Peace Pagoda, Sri Lanka
This beautiful Buddhist temple on our list of marvelous Buddhist Temples was built after the second world war. It was built as a way to promote non-violence and world peace. Situated in a small town of Ampara, this is one of the Peace Pagoda of Sri Lanka. There are other four Buddhist Temples or Pagoda in different cities of the countries. This beautiful Buddhist temple was constructed by the Nipponzan Monks.
It was declared open to the public by the president of Sri Lanka in 1988. The Buddhist temple is Pagoda, a Mahayana style Image house and a small bodhi tree. It was built with a message in mind, to forward the message of world peace and unity. A beautiful message sent out by an even more beautiful Buddhist Temple.
12.Key Monastery, India
The key Monastery also is known as the Ki monastery is the Largest Monastery of The Spiti Valley and the Training center for the Lama. It stands on top of a hill in the valley at a whooping 4,166 mt above the sea level.
The Key Gompa is said to have been founded by Dormtom who was a student of Atisha sometime in the 11th century. Over the centuries it has been witnessed by numerous sieges, wars, and natural calamities, yet today it stands as strong as ever. In recent times the monastery is shared by the Gelugpa sect, the Tabo Monastery, and the Dhankar Gompa.
Today the monastery is said to house around 250 monks out of which some stay in other monasteries in the winter the rest stay inside the monastery walls. The monastery walls feature murals from the 14th century and the Chinese influence is seen in the structure of the monastery. There are three floors out of which the ground floor is beautifully decorated for the monks and the assembly hall and the first-floor id used for storage, One room, in particular, is called the Tangyur which is painted beautifully in murals.
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13. Xuankong Temple, China
This is one of the Buddhist temples which shows just how advanced the architectural techniques of our ancestors were. This Buddhist temple is in true sense a wonder also known as the Hanging temple because it is embellished in a hill and the body of the building hangs from the hill.
The temple was built almost ver 1,500 years ago and is situated on the hill and is 75mt above the sea level. Oak cross beams hold the Buddhist temples in place which are fitted into chiseled holes in the hill.
The main structure is hidden inside the bedrock, and the main body hangs from the middle of the hill, saving the building from sunlight and rain erosion. The Building is long from north to south as it becomes narrower. The Buddhist temple has 40 halls in it.
It is not only prominent because of the architecture of the Buddhist temple but because it is the only existent temple which houses three Chinese traditions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Legend says that it was built at the end of the Northern Wei dynasty by one man alone named Liaoran. It has seen many repairs done to it over the centuries.
14.Pha That Luang, Laos
Regarded as the most important national monument of Laos this Buddhist temple is one which has sustained many damages over the years. It is said to be built back in the 1st century as a Hindu temple but was later converted to a Buddhist temple when the emperor Ashoka had sent envoys from India. It was rebuilt as a Khmer temple in the 13th century but fell.
After that, it was built again in 1566 and named Pha That Luang. It fell during the Thai Invasions, the Franco-Thai war, and the second world war, but every time it has been reconstructed and stands in hope of promoting non-violence the essence of all Buddhist Temples. The structure stands at 44mt high and has three levels. The pinnacle is gold plated while the rest is covered in golden paint.
Boudhanath is one of the Largest Stupas in the world. This Buddhist temple is one of the main tourist attractions of Nepal. It is said that the temple was first built by a woman who found the remains of a great saint on her hen’s farm, and she is one who started the construction of the great Buddhist Temple that stands today.
The remains are said to be of Kassapa Buddha, a buddha before Gautam Buddha, which is entombed in the stupa. The Buddhist temple is built on an ancient route connecting Tibet and Nepal. There are over 50 small Gompa or convents around the Buddist temple which houses Refugee Tibet and Tibetan Monks and nuns. The Buddhist temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.
16. Haeinsa Temple, South Korean
This Buddhist temple was almost lost to the world once, but fortunately, it was saved just in time. Haeinsa Temple is prominently throughout the world for housing the Tripitaka Koreana, which is all of the Buddhist Scriptures carved onto 81,350 wooden printing blocks since 1398.
It is said to have been built in 802 when two monks returned from China. The two versions of the story behind its construction, one being the queen dowager of that time had converted to Buddhism and funded the construction led by the two monks.
The other states the two monks had healed the then ruler’s wife’s illness. The ruler was so pleased that in thanks to Gautam Buddha he ordered the Buddhist Temple to be constructed. The Temple was almost bombed during the Korean Civil war but the Commander of the South Korean army feared losing the Tripitaka Koreana. He did not follow the orders saving the temple and the wooden blocks which are now both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
17. Jokhang Temple, Tibet
This Buddhist temple is regarded as the most important Buddhist Temple of Tibet. Currently, it is maintained by the Gelug School of Buddhism but worshipers of all Buddhist sects are welcomed here. Like many other Temples on our list, this Buddhist temple has also seen many invasions with periods of no worship, but it stands tall even today.
The Buddhist temple was said to be built around 652, Built by the then king to house two Buddhist statues brought to Tibet by his two wives from China and Nepal. Atisha, a Buddhist teacher was taught at the Buddhist temple in the 10th century. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
18. Todai-ji, Japan
This Japanese Buddhist Temple was first founded in 738 CE, during the reign of the Emperor Shomu. It was opened to the public in 752 CE. The Buddhist temple houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha Vairocana(Celestial Buddha). The temple is the headquarters for the Kegon school of Buddhism.
The Temple has witnessed Fires and has been rebuilt over the years. It was once a Prominent Buddhist Temple of Japan when Buddhism was controlled by the empire. It is clear from the findings that All the big sects of Buddhists had their own offices and Libraries in the Buddhist Temple Complex once. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
19. Datsan Gunzechoinei, Russia
This Buddhist Temple is the northmost Buddhist temple of Russia. The temple was first commissioned by the Tzar in 1909 when Agvan Dorzhiev asked Permission to build it.
The temple held its first Buddhist Service in 1913 and The Buddhist temple completed construction in 1915. The concentration of the Buddhist temple was held in August of 1915 and it was given the name Gunzechoinei which means ‘The source of the Buddha’s Religious Teachings that has Deep Compassion for all Beings.
The Datsan housed the statue of Gautam Buddha gifted by the King Rama Vi of Siam, Thailand, and a statue of Buddha Maitreya gifted by G.A. Palson of the Russian Council of Bangkok. A service was held in 1989 after 50 years of being abandoned to commemorate the recognition of the Buddhist Community in Russia.
20. Bagan, Myanmar
Possibly the largest Buddhist Temple Complex of the world, Bagan is a city in Myanmar. It was founded sometime in the second AD century and was fortified in the mid 800s. It was the capital city of the Pagan Empire responsible for unifying the regions which today make modern Myanmar.
The Ancient City is said to have 4,446 Buddhist temples from the 11th to 13th century. Today at least 3,822 Buddhist temples ruins can be found. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site today. The Stupas, Monasteries, and Temples found even today are rich in the history of Buddhist temples. A few Hindu temples and a few Hindu-Buddist Temples’ remains have been found in the ancient city as well.
With that Our list of 20 Marvellous Buddhist temples is complete. These Buddhist Temples are all found in different countries, each has a unique style and its unique Architecture which represents its people and culture.
Every temple has its rich history and its own story to tell.
One thing which is common in all these Buddhist temples despite all the differences in the message that they give. All these Temples give the message of Gautam buddha, a message of Nonviolence, Unity, and Peace world wide.