Now that asia has fully opened it's doors to travel and tourism (China reopened as of 5th January 2023), we at Moethus Travel though that there would be no better way to pay homage to a destination that we truely love than by reminding our readers about the bright, brash and integral part of contemporary life that asian temples reflect.
The Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China
The Temple of Heaven, located in the bustling city of Beijing, China, is a stunning historical landmark with a rich cultural heritage. Constructed during the reign of the Yongle Emperor between 1406 and 1420, this serene temple sits on 267 hectares of parkland and is a popular destination for locals who come to meditate and practice tai chi.
The centerpiece of the Temple of Heaven complex is the magnificent Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a circular building with a triple-gabled design. This hall was where the Emperors would come to pray for a bountiful harvest and to communicate directly with the heavens. The intricate decoration of the hall represents the different seasons and months of the year and any mistake during the elaborate ceremonies was seen as a bad omen for the coming year.
Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Wat Rong Khun, also known as the "White Temple," is a unique and captivating Buddhist temple located in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Entering the new millennium in a state of disrepair, local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat made the decision to restore the temple using his own funds and create a representation of his personal interpretation of Buddhism. This restoration project not only revitalized the temple but also secured the artist's place in history.
Visitors to Wat Rong Khun are welcomed by a bridge over a small lake filled with hundreds of outreaching hands, symbolizing unrestrained desire. According to the artist's philosophy, by ignoring these hands, happiness can be achieved. The unconventional symbolism continues inside the main temple, where the walls are adorned with stunning murals featuring popular cultural figures such as Michael Jackson, Neo from The Matrix, Freddie Krueger, and Hello Kitty.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
The Shwedagon Pagoda, located in Yangon, Myanmar, is a stunning temple that shines brighter than any other in Asia. With a height of 110 meters, its stupa is covered in gold and adorned with 4531 diamonds, including a massive 72-carat diamond. This magnificent temple was built to house strands of the Buddha's hair and is comprised of hundreds of colorful temples, stupas, and statues, reflecting architectural styles spanning nearly 2,500 years.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is a hub of religious and community activities and is a vibrant place of worship, with devotees and monks offering flowers, washing the statues, and meditating at any time of day or night. If you're looking for a truly mesmerizing religious experience in Yangon, be sure to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and bask in its radiant beauty.
Borobudur Temple, Java, Indonesia
The Borobudur temple in Java, Indonesia, is a stunning architectural marvel that inspires awe through its imposing size and somber atmosphere. Built in the Mahayana tradition around 800 AD, it is the largest Buddhist monument in the world and sits in a valley in Central Java, casting a brooding presence over the surrounding landscape.
Famous for its massive size, stone "bells," and serenely gazing carved Buddhas, the Borobudur temple was lost for centuries beneath layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. Today, it is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists and tourists alike and is a source of pride for the Indonesian people. Whether you're a Buddhist seeking a spiritual journey or simply a lover of history and architecture, the Borobudur temple is a must-see site in Java, Indonesia.
The Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, India
The Harmandir Sahib, commonly known as the Golden Temple, is the holiest building in the Sikh religion and is located in Amritsar, India. Built in the 16th century, it marks the spot where Buddha and Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, used to meditate. The temple is a stunning blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, with its standout feature being the dome, which is covered in 750 kilograms of gold.
Inside the temple, priests and musicians perform a continuous chant from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. While the temple itself is awe-inspiring, it is the tank or lake surrounding the temple that draws the majority of pilgrims from all over the world. The tank is believed to have healing powers and is a popular destination for those seeking spiritual solace and rejuvenation. If you're interested in exploring the rich history and culture of the Sikh religion, a visit to the Golden Temple is a must.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, located in Cambodia, is a truly magnificent religious monument. Built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, it is now considered the largest religious monument in the world, spanning 162.6 hectares. This iconic temple complex has become a symbol of national pride for Cambodia and is featured on the country's national flag.
One of the reasons for Angkor Wat's widespread popularity is its stunning architectural design. The temple blends the two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture - the temple-mountain and galleried temples - resulting in a harmonious and grand structure. Its walls are adorned with numerous devatas and extensive bas-reliefs, adding to its breathtaking beauty.
Additionally, Angkor Wat is surrounded by a picturesque lake that provides the perfect backdrop for travelers. The calm, mirror-still waters decorated with water lilies make it an ideal location for capturing stunning photographs and memories. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or just love to travel, a visit to Angkor Wat is a must.
Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Bhutan
Tucked away in the breathtaking cliffs of Bhutan's Paro valley, the Paro Taktstang Temple Complex, also known as Tiger's Nest, is a revered pilgrimage site for Buddhists. It marks the spot where Guru Padmasambhava introduced Buddhism to Bhutan through his meditation for over three years. The temple, nestled at an altitude of 3,120 meters above sea level, can only be reached through a challenging mountain trail, taking anywhere from 2 to 3 hours on foot or half that time by horseback. The horse path winds through a colorful pine forest adorned with prayer flags, adding to the already stunning surroundings.
For more information about any of the above destinations or for more ideas of where to visit in asia, contact Moethus Travel.