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9 of the World’s Most Spectacular Buddhist Temples

Buddhism aims to achieve nirvana, ie: enlightenment. With more than 300 million practitioners, Buddhism has spectacular temples that every year receive millions of visitors from different parts of the world and different religious beliefs.

Here is a list of 9 of the World’s Most Spectacular Buddhist Temples that invite meditation, emotional peace, and relaxation of the mind:

1 – Borobudur Temple – Indonesia


Located on the island of Java in Indonesia, sitting on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills, Borobudur is the biggest and most important Buddhist temple in the World. Its construction lasted 75 years and used over 2 million stone blocks during the 8th and 9th century. After almost 10 centuries of neglect, it was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970’s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO restored Borobudur to its former majesty, making it one of Indonesia’s and the world’s most valuable treasures.

 2 – Haeinsa Temple – South Korea

Heinsa Temple by Russav
Heinsa Temple by Russav

Haeinsa, meaning “Reflections on a Smooth Sea”, is one of the most important Buddhist temples in South Korea, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the year 802 AC, and rebuilt in 1817 after a fire, it is best known for the Tripitaka Koreana, a complete copy of Buddhist scriptures written on more than 81 thousand wooden printing blocks in the 13th century. It is the world’s most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Chinese script.

3 – Wat Arun – Thailand


Located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Praya River, Wat Arun, meaning “Temple of Dawn”, is one of the most important landmarks in Thailand. This temple is the oldest in the region and its architecture represents Mount Meru, the centre of the universe in Buddhist cosmology, and the four-corner prang of the temple scripted with images of the guardian gods of the four directions, reinforces this mystical symbolism. Despite the name, the most amazing view of the temple can be seen from the east side of the river at sunset, when the spires of Wat Arun make a stunning silhouette against the skyline.

4 – Pha That Luang – Laos

Pha That Luang by Philip Maiwald (Nikopol)
Pha That Luang by Philip Maiwald (Nikopol)

Located in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, Pha That Luang is an impressive gold-covered Buddhist stupa built during the 16th century, the most important national monument and, officially, a national symbol of Laos. Legend says that Ashokan missionaries from India erected a stupa here to enclose a piece of Buddha’s breastbone as early as the 3rd century BC. The temple is composed by a large number of terraces and each level represents a different stage in the way of the Buddhist doctrine, with its lowest level representing the material world, and the highest representing the shift that takes place in a human as he moves away from ignorance and approaches enlightenment.

5 – Jokhang Temple – Tibet


Jokhang, the ‘House of the Buddha’, is located in the centre of Lhasa, and represents the spiritual centre of Tibet, and the holiest destination for all Tibetan pilgrims. The temple was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsan Gambo for his two wives, and despite being sacked by Mongols several times, the building survived. Today, this four-level building covers an area of approximately 25 thousand square meters and is decorated by an elaborate gilded bronze tile roof. 

 6 – Todaiji Temple – Japan

Todiaji Temple by 663highland
Todiaji Temple by 663highland

Todaiji is the main Buddhist temple in Japan, the largest of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, and home to the World’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha. This stunning temple complex was built in the 8th century by Emperor Shomu, and it has been rebuilt several times since, so very little remains of the original temple.

7 – Boudhanath – Nepal


Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in the world, and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist centre outside of Tibet. It is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. The present building was probably built in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions; there are various interesting legends regarding the reasons for its construction. Following the 1959 Chinese invasion, the temple was inhabited for over a decade by Tibetan refugees, making it an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepali, as well as a popular tourist site.

8 – Mahabodhi Temple – India

Mahavihara Temple in Bodhgaya. (Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Mahabodhi, meaning “Great Enlightenment” is a Buddhist stupa located in Bodhgaya, India. It is the most sacred site in Buddhism and visited regularly by both Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims. The main structure of the temple contains a descendant of the original Bodhi tree, under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment during the 5th or 6th century BC.  About 250 years after the event, Emperor Asoka, the first Buddhist ruler of India, built a temple at the site

9 – Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda by Thomas Schoch

The Shwedagon Pagoda, or “Golden Pagoda”, is one of the most famous pagodas in the world and it is certainly the main attraction of Yangon, Myanmar’s capital city. Its origins are unknown, but according to some, the pagoda is 2,600 years old, making Shwedagon the oldest pagoda in the world. The temple stands out for its brightness and colour, but the main focus is the gold-plated dome topped by a stupa containing over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires, and a massive emerald positioned to reflect the last rays of the setting sun.

Travel to Asia and see some of the World’s Most Spectacular Buddhist Temples, with bamba.