5 beautiful and little-known temples in Asia

Top 10 Southeast Asian temples worth seeing

It can take decades to get acquainted with all of Southeast Asia’s cultural and religious heritage – it’s so rich. So we’ve chosen the most notable temples recommended to visit in the first place.

This structure is less than 20 years old, but its impressive architecture leaves no one indifferent. Most often, Wat Rong Khun is simply called the White Temple. This Buddhist complex is located in northern Thailand, near the city of Chiang Rai.

The White Temple was designed by Thai millionaire artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and built with his own funds, making it even more unlike other government-sponsored temples.

The artist plans to devote the rest of his life to improving the complex, whose construction began in 1997.

“I wanted to build a temple like heaven. This paradise on earth will not leave the human world indifferent,” Kositpipat says of the significance of Wat Rong Khun.

The Temple of Literature is dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and is more significant for philosophy than for religion. The complex has five courtyards and the building itself copies a temple in the city of Qufu, which is the birthplace of Confucius.

But the Vietnamese Temple of Literature is also interesting because of the 116 stelae erected on its grounds in 1484 to honor the 1307 graduates of the Le dynasty’s three-year royal examinations. To this day, 82 steles with the names and birthplaces of exemplary graduates of ancient times have survived.

Pura Besakih is located on the paradise island of Bali, right on the slope of the volcano Agung, and is represented by 23 separate Hindu temples. About 70 religious festivals are celebrated each year at the temple.

Besakih temple was built more than 1,000 years ago, but in 1917 there was a tragedy: the temple was almost completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption, and its reconstruction dragged on for many years. In 1963 there was another volcanic eruption, but fortunately the lava flow passed just a few meters from the temple and it survived.

This Buddhist temple is located in the Thai capital Bangkok. Its name translates from Thai as “Temple of Dawn.” You can visit it by taking a ferry across the Chao Phraya River.

The temple is famous for its 79-meter pagoda, decorated with ceramic tiles and colorful porcelain, which begins to shine as soon as the sun rises. To visit this wonderful temple of foreigners have to pay 50 baht (a little over 100 rubles).

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Buddhist “Temple of the Golden City” is located in the city of Luang Prabang in Laos. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Xieng Thong was built in 1560, in 1880 the Tripitaka library was added to the temple, and in 1961 – the drum tower. The temple building is the epitome of Luang Prabang’s classic temple architecture, with the roof slopes literally descending to the ground due to its curved shape. The walls of the temple outside are decorated with mosaics depicting various birds and animals, while the inside is decorated with wall paintings. In addition, in the temple is a very rare statue of the reclining Buddha.

The four churches located in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay and Miagao were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993. These churches played an important role in the spread of Christianity in the Philippine Islands. During the Spanish domination, they were not only religious but also political centers, which also accounts for their importance in history. St. Augustine’s Church in Manila is also the oldest existing church in the Philippines, over four hundred years old.

Pha Thatluang is considered one of the most significant architectural monuments of Laos and serves as a national symbol of the country. It is believed to have been built as early as the 3rd century B.C., but Pha Thatluang took its present form in the 16th century. The temple is the site of the Great Stupa Festival, which lasts for three days during the full moon of the 12th lunar month (in November). Today the temple is the residence of the Laotian Buddhist patriarch and, unfortunately, tourists can only visit the inner courtyard of the complex. However, even there is something to see.

Located in the district of Gombak, 13 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, this system of cave temples is the most famous Hindu temple outside of India. Formed about 400 million years ago, the caves are now not only an important destination for pilgrims but also one of Malaysia’s most popular attractions.

The main Temple Cave is accessed by a steep staircase, which has 272 steps. This complex is also home to a kind of art gallery with many statues. In addition to the well-equipped caves with deities, there are other, unimproved caves, where it is better not to go without special equipment.

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In this medieval town (or more precisely – in its vicinity) you can find the remains of more than 2200 Buddhist temples and pagodas! From the eleventh to the thirteenth century this area was the capital of the Dynastic Kingdom, and it was during this time a large number of temples, monasteries and pagodas were built. Telling about each object separately does not make sense – anyway in your head all mixed up. So just enjoy the overall panorama and the spectacular views of the sunrise.

Angkor Wat is known worldwide as the largest religious temple complex of all time: its area is about 200 square kilometers. In Khmer the name Angkor Wat translates as “City of Temples”.

Located five and a half kilometers from Siem Reap city, the temple complex is the most popular place among tourists traveling in Cambodia and is depicted on the flag and emblem of the country. Because Angkor Wat faces the West like most other Khmer temples, historians believe it acted as a burial temple.

Ten of Asia’s Most Beautiful Temples

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Asian temples

Remember our old article about the most beautiful churches? No doubt about it, they’re all gorgeous, each in their own way. But in that review, we undeservedly neglected the East, and they also have a lot to boast about. To make up for it we recommend ten of the most beautiful Eastern churches.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Our virtual journey will begin in the city of Yangon, Myanmar, where we will visit the Shwegadon Pagoda, one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole world. It was built two and a half thousand years ago and decorated the spire (which, by the way, is almost a hundred meters high and weighs 60 tons!) with gold and precious stones. Of the other sights of the Pagoda are the four hairs of the Buddha that are kept there.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwagadon Pagoda has long been a kind of “Mecca” for tourists from all over the world, and it is especially beautiful at sunset. Many people claim that they have never seen such beauty anywhere else.

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Shwedagon Pagoda

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Then we move smoothly to the land of elephants India, to be exact to the city of Amritsar which every year on September 1st attracts Sikhs (not to be confused with Siths) from all over the world. Sikhism is a special faith that is something between Islam and Hinduism. I will not give a lecture on this faith, I will only say that “Sikh” translates as “lion”.

Golden Temple

And it is in Amritsar that the famous Golden Temple, the center of Sikhism, is located. How many times it has been looted and tried to be destroyed cannot be counted. But each time the Sikhs rebuilt it even more magnificent than before. The last time, in 1761, it was covered with sheets of gilded copper, hence the nickname “The Golden Temple.

Golden Temple

Golden Temple

Chion-in Temple

Chion-in Temple

From India we will move to the islands of Japan. There are many temples of all sorts, but the one that interests us is located in Kyoto. It’s one of the largest and oldest temples not only in Japan but in the whole east. Chion-in temple was built in 1234 and contained 21 buildings. However, because of earthquakes, only the later buildings, dating from the 17th century, have survived, but this does not prevent appreciation of the beauty and elegance of Japanese architecture.

Chion-in Temple

In the temple there is a huge bell, weighing 74 tons, which is beaten by 17 monks, announcing the arrival of the new year. And the entrance to the temple is blocked by the biggest gate in Japan, called “San-mon gate”. If you visit this temple, you will be told about a special “singing” field, which is bedecked in the temple. Each of its planks squeaks, which is how the monks in ancient times knew about uninvited guests.

Chion-in Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple

From Japan we will sail to Malaysia and the island of Penang. There you can find the largest temple in Southeast Asia. Its name is Kek Lok Si, which translates as “The Temple of Ultimate Happiness”. Construction began in 1893 and ended in 1930 when the Pagoda of Rama VI was completed.

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Kek Lok Si Temple

The 30-meter tower wonderfully combines Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture. The octagonal base of the temple is borrowed from the Chinese pagodas. The middle part is a typical Thai structure and the top is designed according to the traditions and customs of the people of Burma.

Kek Lok Si Temple

In the ponds next to the temple live turtles, which, according to Chinese belief, symbolizes longevity.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple

Our virtual journey has taken us to the island of Java, in its central part, where the largest Hindu temple complex “Prambanan” is located, which was built in 856 AD, but it began to crumble almost immediately after construction. The reconstruction took a long time – in fact, it began only in 1918 and officially ended in 1953, although some work is still in progress today.

Prambanan Temple

The most important structures of the Temple bear the names of the Hindu deities Shiva, Durga, Agasht and Ganesha. In each such room stands a statue dedicated to that god.

Prambanan Temple

The temple is rightfully considered one of the most exquisite structures in Indonesia, and the rich history only adorns it.

Prambanan Temple

Borobudur

Without going anywhere from Indonesia, we will look at another of its attractions – the Temple of a Thousand Buddhas. Or, as you can translate “Borobudur” – the temple on the mountain, especially since the statues of Buddhas in the temple “only” a little more than five hundred. The building is inferior in size only to the Shwedagon Pagoda, and Cambodia’s Angor Wat, which will be discussed below.

Borobudur

Borobudur was built in about 800 AD, and its creators wanted to repeat the legendary Mount Meru, on top of which rested the universe. Countless workers were thrown into the construction, and it was completed in 75 years. But after only two hundred years, the complex was abandoned, so much so that it had to be rediscovered by the British.

Borobudur

If you look at the top of Borobudur, you can see a huge geometric sign, which means creation.

Borobudur

Borobudur

Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple

After scrambling around the islands we came back to the mainland, back to India. Let’s go to the origins of the Buddhist faith – in the town Buddh-Gaya, where Gautama was enlightened. The temple stands a very long time, fragments have survived built in the second century BC. And next to the Temple is a tree under which Gautama rested. The tree, of course, has died several times, but each time it was grown anew from the branches of the dead.

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Mahabodhi Temple

The temple itself is beautiful – made in the form of a pyramid, over fifty meters high. Many columns and ornaments create a unique flavor. And in 2002, the building became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also says a lot.

Mahabodhi Temple

Angkor Wat

Cambodia. A very beautiful country, which has recently been under the hardships of civil war. How many wonderful monuments of architecture have been destroyed. Fortunately, those that have remained show us all the splendor. For example Angor Wat – which rightfully claims to be the eighth wonder of the world. Not a single simple wall, not a single ugly tower – all seasoned skillfully carved and perfect forms.

Angkor Wat

The temple was originally a Hindu temple, then a Buddhist temple. And nowadays you can find traces of both faiths there. To get up to the temple have to overcome a steep staircase without rails and other means of safety. The descent is even more difficult. But those who dare to do it are doubly rewarded with the magnificence of the temple and the view from this platform.

Angkor Wat

Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple

Of course we can not ignore China. And of course Shaolin Monastery, about which there are many legends. About him and his monks.

Shaolin Temple

The monastery itself was built in 495 AD. In 620, 13 monks helped the Chinese emperor and then Shaolin was given the honorary right to maintain the monastic army. Since then the fame of the invincible Shaolin monks began to rumble across China.

Shaolin Temple

In 1928, during the civil war, the temple was destroyed, but in 1970 it was rebuilt and no more attempts were made on the monument. The monastery is beautiful, but even more beautiful is its history.

Shaolin Temple

Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun

The temple of Wat Rong Koon, located in Thailand, is perhaps the most beautiful and unusual building in the world. For its appearance it is called the “White Temple. For this structure, the world has Chalermchai Kositpipat to thank, who designed everything from the architecture to the many statues, each of which means something. The temple is young – its construction began in 1998 and now only minor touches remain.

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