10 Famous Buddhist Temples

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia
Borobudur Temple, Indonesia A colossal temple complex dating back to the 8th century, Borobudur is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations as well as one of the world’s most important Buddhist temples. Located in the lush Kedu Plain with a backdrop of majestic volcanoes, Borobudur is an awe-inspiring site located 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Yogyakarta in Central Java. Built in the 8th and 9th centuries over a period of 75 years, the temple complex was mysteriously abandoned in the 14th century and left hidden for centuries under volcanic ash and jungle growth until its unearthing by the British in the 1800s.
Modeled like a stepped pyramid, Borobudur is constructed of two million volcanic block stones and consists of six rectangular terraces crowned by three circular terraces. On the top platform, the main dome is enclosed by 72 Buddha statues. Borobudur is decorated with a total of 504 Buddha statues and more than 2,600 elaborately carved relief panels depicting the teachings of Buddha and everyday life in ancient Java.
Just a few hundred meters north of the temple is the Borobudur Museum, which houses two smaller museums where visitors can view artifacts and learn about the history of the site and the meanings of the many carved reliefs. Additionally, there are several restaurants and cafes in and around the area of Borobudur, and near the entrance of the temple is a maze of souvenir and handicraft stalls.
Many buses and tour operations in Yogyakarta are available for transportation to Borobudur. Tourists can explore the site by walking and a mini train.


Bagan Temple, Myanmar
Bagan Temple, Myanmar Bagan, also spelled Pagan, on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River, is home to the largest area of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world. It was the capital of several ancient kings of Burma who built perhaps as many as 4,400 temples during the height of the kingdom (between 1000 and 1200 AD). In 1287, the kingdom fell to the Mongols, after refusing to pay tribute to Kublai Khan and Bagan quickly declined as a political center, but continued to flourish as a place of Buddhist scholarship.


Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar The Shwedagon Pagoda (or Golden Pagoda) in Yangon, is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Burma. The origins of Shwedagon are lost in antiquity but it is estimated that the Pagoda was first built by the Mon during the Bagan period, sometime between the 6th and 10th century AD. The temple complex is full of glittering, colorful stupas but the center of attention is the 99 meter high (326 feet) high main stupa that is completely covered in gold.


Mahabodhi Temple, India
Mahabodhi Temple, India The Mahabodhi (Great Enlightenment) Temple is a Buddhist stupa located in Bodh Gaya, India. The main complex contains a descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment and is the most sacred place in Buddhism. About 250 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, Emperor Asoka built a temple at the spot. The present temple dates from the 5th-6th century.


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Boudhanath Temple, Nepal
Boudhanath  Temple, Nepal Located in a suburb of Kathmandu, Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in the world. It is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal and many refugees from Tibet have settled here in the last few decades. It is probably best known for the Buddha eyes that are featured on all four sides of the tower. The present stupa is said to date from the 14th century, after the previous one was destroyed by Mughal invaders.


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Todaiji Temple , Japan
Boudhanath  Temple, Nepal Todaiji (“Great Eastern Temple”) in Nara is one of the most historically significant and famous Buddhist temples in Japan. The temple was built in the 8th century by Emperor Shomu as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. Today little remains of the original buildings of Todaiji. The Daibutsuden (“Great Buddha Hall”), dates for the most part from 1709. It houses one of the largest Budha statues in Japan and is the worlds largest wooden building, even though it is only two-thirds the size of the original structure.


Jokhang Temple, China
Jokhang  Temple, China The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is the most important sacred site in Tibetan Buddhism attracting thousands of pilgrims each year. The temple was constructed by King Songtsän Gampo in the 7th century. The Mongols sacked the Jokhang temple several times but the building survived. Today the temple complex covers an area of about 25,000 square meters.


Pha That Luang , Laos
Pha That Luang , Laos Located in Vientiane, Pha That Luang (“Great Stupa in Lao”) is one of the most important monument in Laos. The stupa has several terraces with each level representing a different stage of Buddhist enlightenment. The lowest level represents the material world; the highest level represents the world of nothingness. Pha That Luang was built in the 16th century on the ruins of an earlier Khmer temple. The temple was destroyed by a Siamese invasion in 1828, then later reconstructed by the French in 1931.


Wat Arun , Thailand
Wat Arun , Thailand Situated on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River , Wat Arun (“Temple of Dawn”) is one of the oldest and best known landmarks in Bangkok, Thailand. The temple is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology. Despite it’s name, the best views of Wat Arun are in the evening with the sun setting behind it.


Haeinsa Temple , South Korea
Haeinsa Temple , South Korea Haeinsa (Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea) is one of the most important Buddhist temples in South Korea. The temple was first built in 802 and rebuilt in the 19th century after Haiensa was burned down in a fire in 1817. The temple’s greatest treasure however, a complete copy of the Buddhist scriptures (he Tripitaka Koreana) written on 81,258 woodblocks, survived the fire.

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