The eternal adage that states beauty comes in all shapes in sizes follows itself around the world to the most beautiful temples. From architecture to natural residence, each temple adds elegance to its corner of the earth. Here, we round up some of the most famous and beautiful temples in the world.
1. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is perhaps one of the most well-known and recognized temples in the world, though it’s not surprising due to the fact that it is Hinduism’s largest temple complex. Born in the 12th century in Cambodia, Angkor Wat is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, and resembles Khmer architecture—it is surrounded by both a moat and wall, and Angkor Wat’s five towers resemble the five peaks of Mount Meru (a mythical and sacred place).
Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Flickr photo by cornstaruk.
2. Temple of Hathor
Temple of Hathor is the main temple at the Dendera Temple complex in Egypt, the complex as a whole known for being one of the most well-kept temple complexes in its country; the complex grounds have been measured to cover about 40,000 square miles and are encompassed by a wall made of mud bricks. Some remarkable architectural elements at the Temple of Hathor range from its carved images of sacrifices on the walls, to the ceiling that displays the zodiac signs, to the columns with the face of Hathor. It is dedicated to the ancient Egyptian goddess of love and joy, whom the temple is named after.
3. Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Known as Paro Taktasng and the Taktasng Palphung Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan lies on a steep cliff that rises about 3,000 feet from the bottom of Paro Valley. On some days, white, misty clouds crowd the atmosphere, while nature surrounds it. The only way to see it up close is to take a hike up the mountain, or to rent horses to do the hiking for you, though the sight of Tiger’s Nest Monastery will be just as breathtaking as the walk up to see it (should you choose that option).
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
Flickr photo by tlupic.
Akshardham, also named Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, claims its residence in Delhi, India as a Hindu temple. The whole temple is tattooed with carvings of gods and goddesses, flowers and animals, musicians and dancers, made from Rajasthani pink sandstone and marble from Carrara, Italy—steel or concrete are not used within its architectural skeleton. Akshardham is a culmination of many architectural tastes from around India, and boasts numerous pillars, domes, and statues.
Akshardham Temple in India.
Flickr photo by RussBowling.
5. Shwedagon Pagoda
Known in English as the Great Dagon Pagoda, it is a Buddhist golden-coated pagoda that inhabits the city of Yangon in Myanmar (Burma). The Shwedagon Pagoda is said to have stood for over 2,500 years, which wins it the gold medal of the longest residing pagoda in the world. To maintain its beauty and sheen, the people and monarchs of Myanmar are donors of gold—a tradition set by a queen from the 15th century who matched her weight in gold.
The Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.
Photo by WildJunket.
Located in Central Java, Indonesia, Prambanan holds the title of being the largest Hindu temple in both Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Prambanan is dedicated to the Hindu diety Shiva, and like Angkor Wat, the towers were built to resemble Meru and reach about 150 feet. There are 224 temples within Prambanan’s complex, and it is notable for the pointed, towering architecture typical of Hindu temples, and its majestic presence attracts millions of tourists. Like many temples, Prambanan exhibits ornate carvings made out of stone.
The Hindu Temple Prambanan.
Flickr photo by Nokén.
Also located in Central Java is Borobudur, a 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple. Borobudur combines Indian architecture, to display its importance on the region, with Indonesian elements such as native imagery to create a unique looking temple. Its exterior architecture resembles a step pyramid, and is built of stone, in which several statues and intricate images are carved. Borobudur is a place of both worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists living in Indonesia, and the temple was even once abandoned and covered under volcanic ash and jungle vegetation, then discovered again during Java’s time under British administration.
Borobudur in Indonesia.
Flickr photo by null0.
8. Golden Temple
The Golden Temple is more formally known as the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India, and in a literal translation, Sri Harmandir Sahib means the “Temple of God.” Considered holy by the Sikhs, the Golden Temple is surrounded by a lake, which carries holy water, and has four entryways to encourage values of acceptance and understanding. It is built at one level below the surrounding land, which encourages humility. Though most people are assumingly attracted to the golden-coated exterior of the Golden Temple, its ideals appear just as beautiful.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.Photo by WildJunket.
Japanese for “pure water temple,” Kiyomizu-dera was granted its name from the Otowa waterfall that runs inside the structure. Kiyomizu-dera is famous for its protruding wooden stage that sits about 42 feet above the hills below, and was also built with the absence of nails, along with the main hall. The temple is home to various shrines, and clearly the Otowa waterfall, which is said to bring good fortune to those who drink from it. It is located in east Kyoto, where the Buddhist temple overlooks the city and is surrounded by cherry blossoms in the spring.
The Kiyomizu-dera in Japan. Photo by WildJunket.
10. Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun may be one of the most exotic Buddhist and Hindu temples in existence, considering its architectural beginnings started in the fairly recent 1997. Designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, Wat Rong Khun was built in his native land, Chiang Rai, Thailand, in all white due to the Buddha’s purity. Unsurprisingly, the interior of Wat Rong Khun is decorated with statues of the Buddha, though the most unexpected element of this temple may be the painted, adorned walls of super heroes such as Superman, Batman, and the Hulk. Also named The White Temple, it is one of the most distinct temples in the world.