14 Famous Buddhist Temples in The World

The most famous Buddhist temples in the world serve as significant landmarks of spiritual and cultural heritage. Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, has had a profound influence on cultures across Asia and beyond.

Central to Buddhist practice and culture are its temples, which serve as places of worship, meditation, and pilgrimage. These temples, often architectural marvels, reflect the rich history and spiritual depth of Buddhism.

The fifth century BC saw the founding of Buddhism, a significant global religion and philosophy, in northeastern India. Its teachings are derived from those of Siddhartha Gautama, also referred to as The Buddha, who was born in what is now Nepal.

The attainment of nirvana, or freedom from suffering and the cycle of rebirth, is the central aim of Buddhism. The number of Buddhists worldwide ranges from 230 million to 500 million a summary of the most well-known Buddhist temples worldwide.

Read Also: 14 Famous City Squares around the World

The Famous Buddhist Temples in The World

Here some of the famous Buddhist temples around the world, each offering a unique glimpse into this ancient religion.

1. Borobudur

Borobudur - Wikipedia

The largest and most famous Buddhist temples in the world, Borobudur, is located 40 km (25 miles) northwest of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java.  Built in the 9th century by the kingdom of Sailendra,  using an estimated 2 million stone blocks. It was hidden in the bush for ages under layers of volcanic ash after being abandoned in the fourteenth century for reasons that are still unknown.

The temple is made up of nine tiered platforms with a central dome on top. There are 504 Buddha statues and more than 2,500 relief panels adorning it. The temple’s design reflects the path of enlightenment in Buddhist cosmology, and it is an important pilgrimage site, especially during Vesak Day celebrations.

2. The Bagan

The largest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins in the world may be seen in Bagan, often spelt Pagan, which is located on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River. It served as the capital of multiple ancient Burmese rulers who, between 1000 and 1200 AD, constructed as many as 4,400 temples.

Bagan is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world, drawing visitors who marvel at its historical significance and breathtaking architecture. After failing to pay homage to Kublai Khan, the kingdom fell to the Mongols in 1287. Bagan’s status as a governmental hub rapidly deteriorated, but it remained a thriving hub for Buddhist study.

Read Also: 21 Most Beautiful Islands in the US

3. Shwedagon Pagoda

The Shwedagon Pagoda, standing majestically in Yangon, Myanmar, is a golden wonder and one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The stupa, covered in hundreds of gold plates and encrusted with thousands of diamonds, dominates the skyline. The pagoda is said to contain relics of four Buddhas, including eight hairs of Gautama Buddha, making it one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world.

Although the history of Shwedagon is lost to antiquity, it is thought that the Pagoda was initially constructed by the Mon in the Bagan period, which is to say, sometime between the sixth and the tenth century AD. There are several dazzling, colourful stupas throughout the temple complex, but the main stupa, which is 326 feet (99 metres) high and entirely plated in gold, is the focal point of the whole complex. Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, when it glows brilliantly, is an unforgettable experience.

4. Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple, located in the heart of Lhasa, is the spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism. It houses the Jowo Rinpoche, a sacred statue of Buddha at the age of 12, making it the most revered object in Tibetan Buddhism. The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world, welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year.

The temple was often pillaged by the Mongols, but it endured. The temple complex is currently approximately 25,000 square metres in size. The temple, built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo, is surrounded by the Barkhor market, where pilgrims and tourists can experience vibrant Tibetan culture.

5. Mahabodhi Temple

How to Reach Mahabodhi Temple by Flights, Train, Buses and Taxi

The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, is one of Buddhism’s holiest sites, marking the location where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The temple complex includes the descendant of the original Bodhi Tree, under which Buddha meditated. It is a significant pilgrimage destination for Buddhists worldwide, ranking among the famous Buddhist temples in the world.

The Mahabodhi Temple attracts pilgrims from around the world, offering a serene environment for meditation and reflection. A temple was erected at the location by Emperor Asoka approximately 250 years after the Buddha acquired enlightenment. The current temple was built in the fifth or sixth century.

Read Also: 17 Best Places to Visit in China

6. The Temple of Todaiji

One of Japan’s most well-known and historically significant Buddhist temples is Todaiji, or the Great Eastern Temple, located in Nara. Emperor Shomu erected the temple in the eighth century to serve as the principal shrine for all of Japan’s smaller Buddhist temples, making it among the famous Buddhist temples in the world. Today, not much of Todaiji’s original architecture is visible.

The Daibutsuden, also known as the Great Buddha Hall, was built mostly in 1709. Despite being only two-thirds the size of the original building, it is the largest wooden building in the world and home to one of the largest Buddha sculptures in all of Japan. Visitors can explore the expansive grounds, which include beautiful gardens and a museum showcasing Buddhist art and artifacts.

7. Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa, located in Kathmandu, is one of the largest stupas in Nepal and a significant pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. The stupa is among the biggest spherical stupas in the world due to its enormous mandala. It features hundreds of prayer wheels and the watchful eyes of Buddha painted on its spire, symbolizing wisdom and compassion.

Famous Buddhist temples in the world like Boudhanath Stupa attract pilgrims and tourists seeking spiritual solace and cultural enlightenment. Probably the most well-known aspect of the tower are the Buddha eyes that adorn each of its four sides. The previous stupa was destroyed by Mughal invaders, and the current one is thought to have been built in the fourteenth century.

8. Wat Arun

Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Known for its towering spires decorated with colorful porcelain, the temple is especially stunning at sunrise and sunset. Wat Arun’s central prang (tower) stands over 70 meters tall, offering panoramic views of the river and surrounding cityscape.

It is a must-visit destination for those exploring famous Buddhist temples in the world and seeking spiritual solace amidst breathtaking architecture. In Buddhist cosmology, Mount Meru is the centre of the universe, and the temple is an architectural representation of that centre. The greatest times to see Wat Arun, despite its name, are in the evening when the sun is setting behind it.

Read Also: 14 Most Beautiful Small Towns in China

9. Pha That Luang

One of Laos’ most significant monuments is Pha That Luang, often known as the “Great Stupa in Lao,” which is situated in Vientiane. The stupa is divided into multiple terraces, each of which symbolises a distinct step of Buddhist enlightenment. On the remains of an ancient Khmer temple, Pha That Luang was constructed in the sixteenth century, becoming one of the famous Buddhist temples in the world.

A Siamese invasion destroyed the temple in 1828, but the French rebuilt it in 1931. It is believed to enshrine a relic of the Buddha, making it a significant pilgrimage site. The stupa’s stunning architecture and serene surroundings make it a must-visit landmark in Laos.

10. Haeinsa Temple

Haeinsa - Wikipedia

Haeinsa (Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea) is one of the most important Buddhist temples in South Korea. Haeinsa Temple, located in the Gayasan Mountains, is famous for housing the Tripitaka Korean, a comprehensive collection of Buddhist texts composed of 81,258 woodblocks, is the temple’s most valuable artefact, and it survived the fire that destroyed Haiensa in 1817.

Haeinsa is revered worldwide as one of the famous Buddhist temples in the world, attracting scholars, pilgrims, and tourists seeking spiritual enlightenment and cultural immersion. The temple was restored in the 19th century after been built in 802 initially.
The temple complex, with its beautiful architecture and tranquil setting, provides a serene environment for meditation and study.

11. Angkor Wat

Originally constructed as a Hindu temple in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple by the end of the century. It is the largest religious monument in the world, renowned for its intricate bas-reliefs and majestic towers. Angkor Wat is a symbol of Cambodia and a must-see for its architectural grandeur, historical significance, and its status among the famous Buddhist temples in the world.

12. Wat Pho

Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks and a prominent destination among famous Buddhist temples in the world. It is home to the enormous reclining Buddha statue, which measures 46 meters in length and is covered in gold leaf.

Wat Pho is also renowned as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, and visitors can experience a massage or take a course at the temple’s massage school. The complex houses over a thousand Buddha images, making it a significant cultural and historical site in Thailand.

Read Also: 30 Best Tourist Attractions in China

13. Lumbini

Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, is a sacred site for Buddhists. The Maya Devi Temple marks the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Buddha. The complex also includes the ancient Bodhi Tree and numerous monasteries built by various Buddhist countries, reflecting the site’s global significance as one of the famous Buddhist temples in the world. Lumbini is a peaceful and spiritual destination, drawing pilgrims and tourists seeking enlightenment.

14. Wat Rong Khun

A Guide To Wat Rong Khun: When To Visit And What To Do

Wat Rong Khun, commonly known as the White Temple, is a contemporary, unconventional Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai. Designed by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is known for its striking white facade and intricate details that symbolize purity. Inside, modern murals feature a mix of traditional and pop culture elements. Wat Rong Khun stands out for its unique artistic expression and spiritual symbolism, making it one of the famous Buddhist temples in the world.

Read Also: How Much Does a Trip to Italy Cost in 2024|Detailed Budget Breakdown

Buddhist temples are not just places of worship but also cultural and historical landmarks that offer insight into the spiritual and artistic heritage of different regions. Each of the famous Buddhist temples in the world we explored reflects the diversity and depth of Buddhist traditions across the world. Whether you seek spiritual enlightenment, historical knowledge, or architectural beauty, these temples provide a rich and fulfilling experience.

Leave a comment