Whether you’re on a spiritual journey, or simply seeking the best sights, the temples of the world are some of the most worthwhile visits you can make on your travels. Their architecture is mind-blowingly complex and magnificent, and they carry with them a fascinating history
These are 10 of the most amazing temples that every traveller should have on their bucket list.
Paro Taktsang, Paro Valley, Bhutan
Paro Taktsang, also known as “The Tigers Nest”, is a Buddhist monastery dedicated to meditation and introspection. The nickname comes from an old 18th-century story of the Buddhist master, Padmasambhava, who flew to the meditation site on a flying tiger. He then meditated in a cave on the mountain for 3 years, bringing miracles upon the surrounding area, and introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The only way up to the temple is a challenging 2-hour climb up a steep trail, but guests will be rewarded with a beautiful and sacred space at the end of their pilgrimage.
Abu Simbel, Egypt
This enormous rock temple was commissioned by Pharoah Ramesses II as a tribute to the gods Ra-Horakty and Ptah, Goddes Hathor, and Queen Nefertari. While there is debate as to when the temples were built, scholars believe they date back to either 1264 BCE or 1244 BCE. After the Aswan High Dam was built on the Nile, the temples were taken down and rebuilt on a higher cliff for fear of them being submerged.
Bửu Long Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Upon entering the temple complex, visitors are met with by the incredible scene of a large turquoise pool and grand staircase featuring motifs of dragons. The idyllic atmosphere of the temple provides a peaceful refuge, hidden within the bustling city centre of Ho Chi Minh City. The central temple, known as Gotama Cetiya Stupa, is famous for containing enshrined relics of the Buddha. There are also tiny pearl and crystal beads that are believed to have been found in the remains of buddha’s most enlightened followers and teachers.
Seiganto-ji in Nachikatsuura, Japan
This ancient temple dates back to the 4th century and is set next to the tallest waterfall in Japan, surrounded by the lush trees of Nachi. According to the temple records, an Indian monk named Ragyō Shōnin found the waterfall in his search for a place to practice his austerity. It is said that Kannon, the goddess of Mercury, appeared to Shōnin at the base of the waterfall and instructed him to build the temple. The monastery is the first stop on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, in which pilgrims travel to 33 different Buddhist temples throughout the Kansai region of Japan. It’s as engrossing as spending time at casinos in NZ, only on a more spiritual level.
Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand
This incredible temple to honour Buddha’s purity doubles as an eccentric work of art and was created by Chalermchai Kosipipat in 1997. It was built on the ruins of an old Buddhist temple. Although the outside of the temple is completely white, the inside is awash with vividly colourful murals that even depict some of our favourite fictional characters like Spider-Man and Hello Kitty.