15 Most Enchanting Buddhist Monasteries In The World

By Neha Kapoor on Feb 16, 2016
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This world is strewn with enchanting castles, forts and structures that speak of political past in their own ways. However, we are equally blessed with the spiritual centers/structures of past that have been disseminating the ideas of peace, love and belief ever since time immemorial. While on the one hand politics, war and kingdoms have given way to some of the most magnificent structures of the world, the Buddhist monasteries in the world were built primarily with the aim of spreading some of the simplest ideas of humanity: love and spirituality. In this world, where war and turmoil have become the order of the day, let us have a look at some of the most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in the world that inspire awe and reverence- "buddham sharnam gachhami”.

1. Borobudur - Indonesia

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Unique in its own way, the Borobudur Buddhist temple in Java was constructed as a result of Nieuwenkamp’s imagination who conceived of Borobudur as "a big lotus flower bud ready to bloom” which was "floating” on a lake. Nieuwenkamp’s imagination was supported by N. Rangkuti (1987) and if you look from above, the Borobudur Temple looks as if it is floating.

Also Read: 13 Gorgeous Hindu Temples Outside India

2. Bagan -  Myanmar

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The stellar image of Myanmar, the exotic Buddhist temples in Bagan are scattered across a vast dusty plain and make up for a wonderful view. The kingdoms of Bagan date to the early second century BC and saw the construction of more than thirteen thousand temples, pagodas, and other religious structures. Today, we are still blessed to see approximately twenty-two hundred structures that remain standing.

Also Read: Ultimate Road Trip from India to Thailand via Myanmar

3. Shwedagon Pagoda - Yangon, Myanmar

Image Source: Paul Arps/flickr.com

One of Buddhism's most sacred sites, the Shwedagon Pagoda is a wonderful piece of human art that is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems. This Buddhist temple is also believed to have enshrined eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas.

4. Mahabodhi Temple - India

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bihar is the first temple built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. However, the present temple that we see today dates from the 5th-6th centuries. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing, from the late Gupta period and it is considered to have had significant influence in the development of brick architecture over the centuries. The sheer grandeur and the religious significance of this temple renders it a must visit Buddhist temple in India.

5. Jokhang - Tibet

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Translated as the "House of Budha”, the Jokhang Monastery is the prime seat of the Gelugpa (Yellow) Branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It was originally built in 647 AD. Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. The roof of the Jokhang offers breathtaking views of the Barkhor (pilgrims' circuit) and the Potala Palace. The golden roofs are mysteriously crafted with many birds, beasts, bells, and other intricate figures.

6. Pha That Luang - Laos

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Pha That Luang is an immense Buddhist Stupa of 45 meters in height and width 69 and is built in pyramidal shape surrounded by 30 small stupas. The eyes of the beholder will be amazed to see Luang’s stupa that is covered with 500 kilos of gold leaf and precious metal that achieves such impressive golden color that there is no other parallel found of such sort. Due to this, it has become the symbol of the splendor of Laos.

7. Wat Arun - Bangkok, Thailand

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Also called as the "Temple of dawn", Wat Arun is one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. This Buddhist temple is partly made up of colorfully decorated spires and stands stupendously over the water. 

8. Haeinsa Temple - South Korea

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Located on Gaya Mountain in Hapcheon-gun region in South Gyeongsang Province, the Haeinsa Temple is one of the three Jewel Temple of South Korea that represent three jewels of Buddhism- Buddha, dharma and sangh. Haeinsa temple stands for dharma or Buddha's teachings. This temple was initially built in 802 and is one of the most peaceful images of South Korea.

9. Todaiji Temple - Japan

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 752 on the order of Emperor Shomu, Todai-ji Temple's Great Buddha Hall in Nara is the largest wooden structure in the world and houses an immense statue of Rushana Butsu. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. Set amidst picturesque setting, this monastery looks a breathtaking piece of art. 

10. Tiger's Nest Monastery - Bhutan

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The very sight of this monastery inspires a sublime emotion. Located at an edge of a 900 meter (3,000 feet) cliff, the Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest has come to represent Bhutan to a certain extent. In order to reach this monastery, you will have to take a 2-3 hours hike from the parking lot to the monastery. The main temple complex was built in 1692 and is considered to be one of the holiest for the Bhutanese people.

Also Check Out: Things To Do In Thimphu

11. Wat Rong Khun - Thailand

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Although considered to be bit bizarre, the Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple, is considered to be one of the main attractions of not just Chiang Rai but the whole of Thailand. This Buddhist temple features murals that have contemporary bearings such as a mural depicting a plane hitting the Twin Towers as Spiderman and an Angry Bird look on. This temple has been designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and is acclaimed for its incredibly detailed, all-white exterior that is symbolic of Buddha's purity. The bridge to the entrance crosses over a sea of arms reaching out for help from the fiery depths of hell. Evil is symbolically strewn around the temple in the shape of skulls, demon heads, and pop-cultural figures from the underworld. Inside the temple, the decor swiftly moves from pristine white to fiery and bewildering.

12. YumbulagangTibet Autonomous Region of China

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Translated as the "Palace of Mother and the Son”, the Yumbulagang is considered to be the first building in Tibet, according to the folklore. It was the palace of the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo and it was only under the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama that this palace was converted into a monastery of the Gelugpa school.

13. Key Gompa - Spiti Valley, India

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is truly an enchanting monastery located at a height of 4116m and 7 km from Kaza. What makes this monastery truly wonderful is that it is the largest monastery in Spiti Valley. Established in the 11th century, this monastery still preserves ancient Buddhist scrolls and paintings. Today, it is home to a large number of Buddhist monks and nuns who practice Buddhism here. The walls of the monastery are covered with paintings and murals. This monastery is one of the artworks of the 14th century monastic architecture, which developed as the result of the Chinese influence in India.

Want to explore more of the beauty of Spiti valley and beyond? Plan an itinerary with us to experience the immense glory of this place! 

14. Lama Temple-Beijing, China

Image Source: Jorge Láscar/flickr.com

Lama Temple in Beijing, China claims to be one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world. The Lama Temple is also known as the Yonghe Temple or Palace of Peace and Harmony, a term that clearly states the purpose with which it would have been set up. The centre of attraction here is the 26 meter (85 foot) tall statue of Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of white sandalwood. The temple was constructed by Chinese emperors who held a fascination for the Tibetan version of Buddhism. This monastery has also been home to many Tibetan and Mongolian monks who have lived and taught here.  

If you are planning to stay in Beijing so as to experience the immense beauty of this temple, book your hotel with us and avail the best bargains!

15. Hanging Monastery - China

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the manmade wonders of the world, the Hanging monastery in China is perched in between a cliff at around 75 meters (246 feet) above the ground. This monastery consists of 40 rooms joined together by mid-air corridors and walkways, walking on which simply take you to the path of heaven. Built in the 5th century, this hanging structure has been gracing the landscape of China for past 1500 years.

So which of these monasteries would you like to visit? Let us know. 

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