No matter what your feelings on religion, visiting places of worship whilst away from home often helps you to put the people, the culture and the history of a place into perspective.
Asian temples, in particular, offer visitors an absolutely breath taking vision of just how religion and spirituality plays such an important part in every day life and anyone interested in art and architecture will no doubt fall head over heels in love at first glance.
Below are just five examples of temples from within the realms of Asia and if you’re looking to be amazed or just fancy a spot of peace and tranquillity then why not check some of them out next time you’re on your travels.
“The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.” Rabindranath Tagore
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Originally built as a temple for Hindus but later taken over by the Buddhists, Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, is the largest spiritual monument of its kind and just an amazing experience that takes at least a few days to fully appreciate. Ruined and covered in monstrous jungle creepers, Angkor Wat presents an enthralling location from where to explore and get lost with a whole host of monkeys, decorations and moats adding to one unforgettable moment after the next.
Taj Mahal, India
Situated in northern India within the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal was created as a tomb for the third wife of Shah Jahan who was the fifth Mughal emperor of India from 1628 to 1658. The iconic white marble architecture is known the world over and revered as both a Mughal shrine as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the beautiful gardens and waterways surrounding the mausoleum to the ornate carvings held inside, this is one of the world’s most romantic gestures and not to be missed by any stretch of the imagination.
Gawdawpalin Temple, Myanmar
Any travellers thinking of heading to the jungles and hillsides of Myanmar should certainly consider taking in the carved peaks of the Gawdawpalin Temple as this is one of the most peaceful and spiritual places in the country and definitely deserves a respectful visit. Meditation and prayer combine with incredibly intricate architecture to form both the interior and exterior designs of this perfect pagoda and if you’re looking to compare and contrast then head along the Ayeyarwaddy River and the larger Bu Pagoda provides the perfect place from where to do so.
The Temple of Heaven, China
No visit to Beijing, China is complete without taking in the resplendent architecture of the Temple of Heaven and if you’re longing to walk in the hallowed footsteps of emperors from across the ages then this is the ideal opportunity to do just that. Commonly considered to be a Daoist temple the UNESCO World Heritage Site covers just over a square mile and includes the Hall of Prayer, the Imperial Vault and the Circular Mound Altar all of which make up a remarkable place of pilgrimage filled with symbolism and fabulously decorated interiors.
Although Thailand is well represented in temple terms there’s one that pretty much stands out amongst the rest for both its size and dedication to Buddhism. As a working community Wat Phra Dhammakaya houses over 3,000 monks, teachers and students and has recently won an award for the best centre for meditation as recognised by the National Office of Buddhism. With architecture considered to be reminiscent of a cross between a flying saucer and a soccer stadium, this is a more contemporary Thai temple however, if you’re heading to the north of Bangkok it’s most certainly worth adding to your cultural list of things to do, if only for the photo ops.
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