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There are many religions in the world and most of them build temples. But as far as all these religions differ from each other, so the temples in which people worship their Gods are diversified by their architecture.
Some are ancient ruins, others are quite modern. To visit Asia and not visit some of them is a real blasphemy for a traveler.
Monastery of the Tiger's Nest. This monastery is located high in the mountains at the very edge of a cliff. The height above sea level is 3120 meters, and above the Paro valley the monastery rises to 700 meters. This place is one of the saints in Bhutan. According to the legend of Guru Rinpoche, for his contribution, revered as the second Buddha, flew here on the back of a tiger. After that, the saint meditated in a cave, which is still located outside the monastery walls. The Monastery of the Tiger's Nest was built in 1692, but after a fire in 1998 it underwent significant reconstruction. The government of the country knows how important this place is for believers, therefore, on the basis of archival documents, it did everything to preserve the temple in its original form. But only practicing Buddhists can get here, but for ordinary tourists a special permit is required. The journey to the temple itself can be done on the back of a mule, with beautiful views and a sense of unity with nature.
Wat Rong Kun. This Thai temple is considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the world. In any case, it is significantly different from any Buddhist buildings in the world. The entire temple is white and very richly decorated with gilded elements. Mosaic mirrors in patterns create a magical shine around. The temple stands out for its alabaster patterns, as if the palace of the Snow Queen, made in oriental style. This building was created thanks to the famous Thai artist Chalemchay Kositpipata. He invented all the architecture and numerous statues. Each of them carries a certain meaning. This temple is quite young, it began to be built in a modern style in 1998. There is also a gallery displaying paintings by Kositpipata. Curiously, the architect builds the temple exclusively at his own expense, so as not to depend on the wishes of sponsors. As a result, the artist has already invested several million dollars in Wat Rong Kung.
Prambanan. This Hindu temple complex is located in central Java, Indonesia. It was built here back in 856 AD, but almost immediately after the completion of work on it, it began to crumble. But the real reconstruction began here only in 1918. Although the official restoration work was completed in 1953, restorers are still working here. The complex includes three huge temples that are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. In the center of each building is the figure of the corresponding deity. There are also less significant temples here, they are intended for other saints and sacred animals on which the deities moved. Almost the entire wall of stone buildings is covered with relief drawings that tell the stories of the deeds of the gods, plots from the Ramayana and other legends. Although the temple is not the largest in the country, it stands out with its beauty, grace and rich history. In 1951 Prambanan was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Shwedagon Pagoda. The exact time of the construction of this pagoda in Myanmar is not known exactly. Legends say that it is already 2.5 thousand years old. But archaeologists believe that the temple was built between the 6th and 10th centuries. Usually when people say a golden temple, they mean its golden color. But in the case of Shwedagon Pagoda, the word "golden" must be understood literally. In the 15th century, Queen Mon donated the precious metal to cover the temple with it. This tradition has survived to this day - pilgrims buy small sheets of gold to paste over the walls of the pagoda. As if that weren't enough, the spire of the dome is covered with 5,000 diamonds and 2,000 rubies. At the very top there is even one 76 carat stone. Here are revered Buddhist relics - Kakusandha's staff, Kanagamana's water filter, a piece of Kassala's tunic and, most importantly, eight hairs of Gautama himself. It is not surprising that the 98-meter stupa has constantly become the object of the claims of foreign invaders. In 1608, the Portuguese ransacked the temple and stole a 300-ton bell adorned with jewels. In 1823, the British tried to take out another bell from here. The pagoda is a real Mecca for tourists from all over the world, it looks especially beautiful at sunset.
Sky Temple. This temple and monastery complex is located in Beijing. The only round temple in the city stands out here - the Temple of the Harvest or the Temple of Heaven. He is the main one in the whole complex. The entire structure was built here in 1420 by Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. It was assumed that the building would become the personal temple of the ruler, where he would pray for a good harvest and atonement for the sins of his people. Since 1530, the temple began to perform the functions of worshiping heaven. An unusual building is located southeast of the palaces of the emperor. Its shape is due to the fact that the circle symbolizes the sky in China. However, once in the temple, they worshiped the earth, which is why square elements are also present here. Almost 5 centuries annually on the day of the winter solstice, the emperors of the country arrived here, extolling the gifts of the air element. The ruler pleaded with the wind, rain, cold and heat to come on time. And this object is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, moreover, it is also one of the symbols of the city.
Chionin Temple. This temple was built in 1234 by the Yodo sect in honor of its founder, the monk Honen. He taught that by worshiping the Buddhist god Amida and being devoted to him, one can go to the Pure Land, that is, to heaven. At the place where the monk lived and served, his death, a church was erected. There were 21 buildings in the complex, ranging from public dining rooms to closed temples. However, time destroyed almost all of them, fires and earthquakes led to the fact that the oldest surviving houses here date back to the 1630s. But this does not prevent you from appreciating all the beauty and elegance of Japanese architecture. You can enter the temple through a huge two-story gate, then the path goes along a steep staircase. The San Mon Gate, built in 1619, is the largest in Japan and is listed as a National Treasure. The pride of the temple is its bell. It weighs as much as 74 tons, and 17 monks beat it at once to achieve its sound. The Chionin bell is also the largest in the country. An interesting feature of the temple is the "singing" floor. When an uninvited guest enters the room, the boards begin to creak. This is how the monks learned about the visitors. Inside the temple there is a statue of the same monk Honen. It was in Chionin that the famous film "The Last Samurai" was filmed. Visitors may not see all of the buildings within the complex, and the entrance fee is 400 yen.
Borobudur. This complex was built in the VIII-IX centuries by the rulers of Java from the Silendra dynasty. The name of the complex is translated as “Buddhist temple on the mountain”. In the 19th century, the Dutch occupiers of the island discovered massive ancient temple ruins deep in the jungle. The complex was built from 55 thousand cubic meters of stones. The temple contains about 2,700 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Perhaps the creators wanted to repeat the outwardly legendary Mount Meru, on the top of which, according to legend, the whole world rests. The construction lasted as much as 75 years, and many workers took part in it. But just two hundred years later, the complex was abandoned. It remains unclear why people left the temple in due time. The reason may have been a volcanic eruption and the shift of the center of Javanese civilization to safer lands. The temple could symbolize a lotus located on the lake and in which the Buddha is located. Moreover, in these places at that time there was a water surface. Today some experts believe that Borobudur is a huge textbook of Buddhism. After all, the bas-reliefs tell the main milestones in the life of the deity and the principles of his teaching. To read all the pictures, the pilgrim needs to make his way through nine platforms and cover a distance of 2 miles. If you look at Borobudur from above, then it is a huge geometric symbol, which means "the universe". The first restoration of the complex began in 1907, it gave it a solemn and imposing look.
The Golden Temple. This main temple of the Sikh religion is located in the city of Amritsar, in the Indian Punjab. It was built in 1589. Since 1604, it contains the original of the holy book "Adi Granth", written by guru Arjan. For the Sikhs, the temple is a symbol of their freedom and spiritual independence. The building is located on the shore of a small lake. They say that it was so quiet that the Buddha himself came here to meditate. Later, a complex and a whole city arose on the lake shore. The temple itself is decorated inside with marble sculptures, they are gilded with gold and covered with precious stones. The main part of the temple is located in the middle of the lake; you can walk to it along a narrow marble bridge. It symbolizes the path that people overcome from the sinner to the righteous. Sikhs from all over the world come to the temple annually on September 1. The Golden Temple got its name from the gilded copper sheeting in 1761. Since then, they have tried to rob and destroy it many times, but the believers have restored their shrine each time. In 1984, militants settled in the temple, a military operation against them led to the death of 492 civilians. Although this place has seen a lot of blood, it is now open to tourists, closing only for a short night.
Ranganatha Temple in Srirangam. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of Vishnu. This is the largest religious building in the country. Also, the temple is the largest active Hindu in the world. It covers an area of 63 hectares. According to legend, once a sage carried a statue of Vishnu and decided to rest, placing it on the ground. There was a large snake under the statue. But when the man decided to continue on his way, he found that the statue could no longer be lifted. Then a small temple was built on this site. It has grown and expanded over the centuries. The complex is now surrounded by seven rows of walls. Their total length is 10 kilometers. On the walls there are 21 square towers of different heights. The highest of them has 15 floors and a height of 60 meters. The pride of the temple is the Hall of a Thousand Columns. In fact, there are 953 of them here. Only believers can get into the central sanctuary, it is there that the main deity is located. There are also several less significant shrines with other forms of Vishnu in the complex. The famous Orlov diamond is associated with this temple. After all, once it was located in the temple, playing the role of the eye of the deity.
Angkor Wat. This temple is the largest in history and has been featured in many novels and featured in several Hollywood films. The complex was built at the beginning of the XII century on the territory of present-day Cambodia. It was the first Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. And in the XIV-XV centuries Buddhism came to these lands, the temple began to serve the new faith. Today, traces of both religions can be found in it. The complex was once part of the ancient capital of the Khmers, the city of Angkor. It occupied an area of 200 km2, and up to half a million people lived here. The Western world first heard about Angkor Wat back in the 16th century, when a Portuguese monk visited it. He wrote: “This rather extraordinary structure cannot be described in words, also because there are no other such buildings in the world. The complex has such towers and decorations that only a human genius can create. These words are largely true today. The complex was finally opened by the French in 1861. Since 1992, the buildings of Angkor are under the protection of UNESCO. In terms of architecture, the temple combines the typologies of the temple-mountain and galleries. Angkor Wat consists of three rectangular buildings, whose height increases towards the center. The temple is surrounded by a moat along the perimeter. Its width is 190 meters and its total length is 3.6 kilometers. Internally, the structure consists of five lotus-shaped towers. To climb here, you have to climb a rather steep staircase. There are no railings or other security features. But only from the top one can contemplate all the splendor of the forms, seasoned with skillful carving.
Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple. Atop Red Mountain in Lhasa, China, this complex was built in 637 by the first emperor of Tibet. It did not carry religious functions, being only the ruler's palace. The building lasted 200 years and was destroyed by wars. In the middle of the 17th century, the fifth Dalai Lama decided to rebuild the Potala Palace at an altitude of 3700 meters. In three years, the main building, the "White Palace", was erected, and later the "Red Palace" appeared. The Dalai Lama lived here for a long time, until the current one was forced to leave Tibet after the Chinese invasion in 1959. Now there is a state museum.
Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Lhasa. It is the most important and sacred place in all of Tibet. The temple was built in 642, today the original ancient layout has been preserved here, despite many changes. Today there are more than 20 pavilions in the temple, the area of which exceeds 25 thousand square meters. The most important four-story pavilion was erected in the center of the monastery. It is in it that the bronze statue of Buddha is kept. There are three concentric paths to reach the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa City. Walking on them, many prostrate themselves to receive spiritual enlightenment in this holy place.
Varanasi. Varanasi may not be a temple, but this Hindu holy city is often called the “city of temples”. It is located on the banks of the Ganges River, and at almost every intersection there is some kind of church. Varanasi is visited by millions of pilgrims every year. After all, the city is sacred also for Buddhists and Jains. A third of the city's population is Muslim, so Islam is worshiped here. Even Christianity has found a place here - the colonial past of India makes itself felt.
Kek Lok Si. This temple is the largest in Southeast Asia, it is located in Malaysia on the island of Penang. The very name of this complex literally translates as "Temple of the highest happiness." Construction began in 1893, and ended only in 1930 with the construction of the Rama Sixth Pagoda. The thirty-meter tower combines the traditions of Thai, Burmese and Chinese architecture. The base has eight corners, as is customary in China, the middle is traditional for Thais, and the top is made according to the traditions of Burma. Inside the building itself there are many Buddha statues, which were specially collected all over the world. The statue of the goddess of mercy Kuan Yin is also impressive, as well as the tortoiseshell panels located here. These animals live in abundance in the nearby ponds. After all, turtles are a symbol of longevity. Tourists are allowed to feed these animals living near the iconic temple.
Mahabodhi Temple. This famous temple is located in the very place where, according to legend, inspiration descended on Gautama, and he became the Buddha.It is believed that the first church on this site was built 2200 years ago, during the Kushan kingdom in the 1st century it was rebuilt. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Only thanks to the British in the 19th century, the reconstruction of this holy place was carried out. Next to the temple is the holy Bodhi tree, under which Gautama was located for meditation. It died many times, but each time it was grown from the seed of its predecessor. The temple is made in the form of a pyramid 50 meters high. There are many columns and ornaments here, which form its unique appearance. Since 2002, the temple has been a UNESCO protected site.
Shaolin monastery. There are many legends about this monastery, as well as about the novices who inhabit it. The Buddhist temple complex is located in central China on Songshan Mountain. Shaolin was founded in 495 by the Indian monk Bhadra. In 530 Bodhidharma, the patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, stayed here. It was he who gave the monks new methods of practice, meditation and health maintenance. In 620, 13 Shaolin people helped Li Shimin retain his throne. As a reward for this, the monastery was granted the right to maintain its own army. Since then, Shaolin is a martial arts center known throughout China. In 1928, the monastery was destroyed, but half a century later, thanks to popular culture and cinema, it was restored and expanded. The temple complex itself is quite beautiful, but it is interesting due to its extraordinary and famous history.