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The most impressive and renowned temples in Asia

The most impressive and renowned temples in Asia

Asia is a continent that encapsulates numerous architectural wonders both in its most mainstream and underground destinations. And as an example, here is this post, with some of the most amazing temples in Asia.

1. Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)

In the isle of Java, isolated among the vastness of the prairie and surrounded by lush vegetation, raises the Borobudur Temple. This construction is considered the highest expression of Buddhist architecture in the island, dating back to 750 A.D. The temple consists of a series of concentric rings that get thinner and thinner the closer you get to the top, leading to a huge central stupa, a hemispherical structure distinctive of Buddhist architecture. Between 1907 and 1911, it was restored by several groups of Dutch archaeologists, freeing it from the threat of tropical vegetation and turning it into one of the biggest draws in this Indonesian island.

2. Shwedagon Paya (Yangon, Myanmar)

This temple, located in the capital of Myanmar, is the most sacred building in the city, as it is said to contain the relics of four previous Buddhas, including a strand of hair from Siddharta Gautama. Topped by the magnificent stupa Shwedagon Paya (in Myanmar, stupas are known as payas), it is surrounded by several temples. The stupa is covered in gold, raising to 100 metres. It is located on the west side of the Kandawgyi Lake on the Singattara Hill and to go inside you have to take your shoes off and cover your legs and shoulders, besides going around it counterclockwise.

Imagen del templo Shwedagon paya, en Myanmar

3. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

This temple is an expression of the dominance of the Khmer Empire, which ruled Southeast Asia from the mountains of Myanmar to the coast of Vietnam and the peninsula of Malaysia. This place was discovered at the end of XVI by the western culture and it is the biggest religious construction in the world, a cultural heritage unlike any other and reason of national pride in Cambodia (it is even featured in its flag). Besides, it is catalogued as one of the best archaeological discoveries in Southeast Asia, and there is no doubt that it is the biggest attraction in Cambodia.

4. Temple of Heaven (Beijing, China)

It is the biggest temple of this style in the whole country.  It was built in 1420 and the dynasties Qing and Ming used it to pray for good harvests in the spring and give thanks for the ones collected in autumn. The Temple of Heaven is formed by a complex of buildings flanked by a double wall: on the North there is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and on the South the Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. Ever since 1998, it is featured on the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Imagen del Templo del cielo, en Pekín, China

5. Lotus Temple (New Delhi, India)

It only takes being in front of this temple to realise where it takes its name from, as its lotus-flower shape can been seen from a birds-eye view or from a standing point. The temple was finished in 1986 and has since gained several architecture awards. Just like any other Bahá’i House of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to everyone regardless of their religion or any other difference, just as the Bahai texts contemplate. Bahai temples are sacred places where people from all religions can gather to worship God. Funnily enough, playing any sort of instrument is not allowed, nor is giving sermons or celebrating ritual ceremonies.

6. Kikaku-Ji (Japan)

Also known as the Golden Pavilion, it is one of the most famous temples in Kioto and it is pretty unlikely that a tourist leaves the city without having visited it.  It is a Zen temple located on the north of the city, whose special feature, which is also where it takes its name from, is being covered in gold leaf. Upon entering the premises you will come across a beautiful pond –on whose waters the temple sees its counterpart reflected– crammed with islands, stones and Japanese-style pines that represent different chapters of Japanese Buddhism. Also a World Heritage Site since 1994.

Imagen del templo Kikaku Ji, en Japón

7. Boudhanath (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Boudhanath is one of the Buddhist locations in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. 11 kilometres outside the city, this is one of the largest stupas not only in the country, but in the world. Surrounding it, over 50 Tibetan Gompas (monasteries), whose construction was boosted by the influx of large populations of refugees from the Tibet after the Chinese occupation.  This place was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979, and the best time to visit it is at sunset, when dozens of Tibetans pray around the stupa singing their mantras, and light their butter lamps or spin their prayer wheels.

Imagen del templo de Boudhanat, en Katmandú, Nepal.

Ultimately, when you travel to these countries, remember that each has its own currency. Exchange yours with Global Exchange.

© Pictures: Cristina Monsalvo, Carlos Adampol Galindo, Justine Hong,    

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