It is common knowledge that there is one Supreme Being above all of us. We can say that He created the world. Science may disagree, but that does not make His existence redundant. Science says so because it has a limited knowledge about the Universe. They say that Sir Issac Newton discovered gravity. Does that mean that prior to Sir Issac Newton’s discovery, there was no concept of gravity. Did the apples float in the air before the discovery of gravity? Therefore, gravity was always present in the universe. Sir Issac Newton realized the concept and explained it to the world.
Coming back to the existence of God, there is no dispute about that. This explains the presence of innumerable grand temples all around the world. As the discussion is strictly about temples, the churches and mosques go out of the equation.
We present the list of the top 10 famous temples in the world. We have tried to give each country a representation. Hence, we might have missed many temples in the world.
If you speak about the famous temples in India itself, the list could run into thousands. However, this is an honest attempt at listing out the top 10 famous temples in the world.
10. Jetavanaramaya (Sri Lanka):
Sri Lanka has a fantastic culture dating back to the ancient times. Predominantly, a Buddhist country, you can find innumerable Stupas in Sri Lanka. Built between 273 and 301 AD, the Jetavanaramaya is one of the tallest stupas in the ancient world. Having a height of 122 m, the base area is 233,000 sq m, making it the largest stupa in the world. Located at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, this stupa has a part of the sash tied by the great Buddha. At No 10 on this list, this Stupa is a construction marvel.
09. Temple of Heaven (Beijing, China):
You have a Buddhist temple at No 9 on the list. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China was constructed during the reign of the Yongle Emperor between 1406 and 1420 AD. The Jiajing Emperor extended this temple in the 16th century and renamed it as the Temple of Heaven. The monarchs of the Ming and the Qing dynasties visit this temple for annual ceremonies and pray for a good harvest.
08. Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Bhutan):
Built in 1692 around the cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated for a period of 3 months 3 weeks 3 days, and 3 hours sometime in the 8th century, this temple is precariously perched on top of a rocky mountain. Known as Paro Taktsang or the Tiger’s Nest, this is the most pious monastery in Bhutan. Though it looks inaccessible from the ground, the monastery has several points of entry from various sides. This monastery looks heavenly among the clouds. At No 8 in the list, this is one of the highlights of this small country, Bhutan.
07. Shwedagon Pagoda (Myanmar):
Built somewhere between the 6th and 10th centuries BC, this pagoda must rank as one of the oldest pagodas in the world. At No 7, you have this Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. History says that it contains the relics of four Buddhas including eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama. Damaged by a series of earthquakes, the kings of Myanmar rebuilt it during the eighteenth century. Nothing can equal the grandeur of this Pagoda.
06. Prambanan (Indonesia):
At No 6, we have the Candi Prambanan, a 8th century Hindu temple. This temple is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, this UNESCO heritage site attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. Built over a vast area, this temple had about 240 smaller temples inside complex arranged in a perfect geometrical pattern. The 2006 earthquake damaged the temple but they have rebuilt it and restored the glory of the temple.
05. Borobudur (Indonesia):
At No 5, we have the Indonesian Buddhist temple Borobudur built in the 9th century. The temples in Indonesia have specific geometric patterns. The Prambanan had it. So does the Borobudur. Decorated with 2672 relief panels and about 504 Buddha statues, this temple is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. It is a UNESCO Heritage site now.
04. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam, India):
When you talk of temples, Tamil Nadu should be an integral part of the discussion. The land of temples, Tamil Nadu boasts of infinite numbers of temples. However, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam is the grandest of them all. One of the 108 Divya Deshams (sacred places) dedicated to Vishnu, this temple has the tallest tower in the world. They call it the Gopuram in these parts of the world. Built over a huge area of 156 acres, the temple houses an entire township inside its premises. The largest temple complex in India stands at No 4 on this list.
03. Wat Rong Khun (Thailand):
At No 3, we have the renovated Wat Rong Khun in Thailand. The foreigners know this temple as The White Temple. You can also call this temple as the private property of Chalermchai Kositpipat, the designer and constructor of this renovated temple in 1997. This temple symbolizes many religious faiths. Chalermchai used THB 40 million of his own funds to rebuild the temple. This temple is a magnificent site, famous all over the world.
02. Golden Temple (Amritsar, India):
From the Buddhist and the Hindus, we come to the Sikhs. The Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple at Amritsar is the most sacred one for the Sikhs. Built by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, this is a magnificent temple gleaming in gold ensconced in the midst of the holy tank. This temple is a wonderful sight in the night with lights glowing all around. This temple makes the list for its sheer grandeur.
01. Angkor Wat (Cambodia):
At No 1, you have the largest religious monument in the world, the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Built over a site measure 162.6 hectares, this was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Subsequently the spread of the Buddhist religion converted this Hindu temple into a Buddhist one by the end of the 12th century. AngKor Wat is a gigantic temple famous for its grandeur. It is a UNESCO heritage site today attracting thousands of visitors making it the showpiece of Cambodia.
It is heartbreaking to leave out some other glorious temples such as the Lord Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupathi, India that attracts more than lakh devotees every day. It is also one of the richest temples in the world along with the Ananthapadmanabha Temple in Trivandrum, India. There is space to include only ten temples.