Amazing Temples Around the World

Temples are wonderful places for exploring. Whether they are ancient ruins or an active place of worship with vibrant colors and smells, you can’t go wrong visiting any of these temples.

Subhash Chowk Station road malakhera, Alwar, Rajasthan 301406, India
Neelkanth, meaning the blue-throated reincarnation of Lord Shiva, is located inside Sariska National Park, about 45 mins from Amanbagh ( It situated on a plateau high in the hills and the drive up there is simply spectacular. Surrounded by mountains, this ancient temple town is home to the ruins of more than eighty temples dating back to the 6th century. Neelkanthteshwar, the most famous temple, is even older. Make sure you take enough time to explore your surroundings here. I suggest early mornings or late afternoons–as the light will be at its best. Just like Bhangarh ( – this is an enchanted place with much to give if you’re open to it.
วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ Tambon Su Thep, อ.เมือง Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
On every trip, I try to ride my motorbike up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a beautiful temple on the top of the mountain just outside of town. The view of the Chiang Mai valley is breathtaking on a clear day. I go to the shrine in the back of the temple and receive a blessing from the presiding monk. —Andy Ricker
Better known as the Tomb Raider Temple since its starring role in the Hollywood movie of the same name, Ta Prohm has at least as much star quality as Angelina Jolie. Cloaked in dappled shadow and locked in the embrace of the vast root systems that are still reclaiming it for the jungle, the temple is arguably the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor Archaeological Park. Construction on Ta Prohm began in 1186 C.E.; it was built in honor of the mother of King Jayavarman VII. Modern-day visitors are not permitted to climb onto the crumbling galleries of its 39 towers due to safety concerns. Nevertheless, picking a route around the various structures, close courtyards, and narrow corridors sprouting with lichen, moss, and creeping plants is one of the most enthralling experiences at Angkor.
Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab 143401, India
Sikhs and non-Sikhs go to Amritsar for one reason – to see the Golden Temple (Hamandir Sahib) so, that is what I did on my most recent trip to India. Except, I went on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday which is a national holiday in India and because of that, I expected the place to be crowded with locals enjoying a day off. It was indeed crowded so much so I could barely walk. I returned the next day thinking it would be better and it was but it was still packed with people. I did manage to see the place but not quite in the way that I wanted to experience a holy site. So, I hopped in a taxi and went down the road to Tarn Taran Sahib. There, I found a place of religious tranquility and a golden temple that was just as beautiful albeit on a smaller scale. Sikh devotees were out and about but there was not a throng of people. It was just the place I was looking for!
Jl. Ayodya No.10, Mengwi, Kec. Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia
The temples in Bali, Indonesia are famous for their multi-tiered thatch roofs. This was taken at Pura Taman Ayun in the village of Mengwi. Visitors are not allowed to enter the temples - we could only view from outside the walls. Thankfully the walls aren’t very tall :)
Delphi 330 54, Greece
The belly button of the world lies eighty miles northwest of Athens, where the southern slope of Mount Parnassus, cut deeply by cascades feeding the River Pleistos, drops precipitously into the Gulf of Corinth. High above the ravine in a cleft between the Phaedriades, or “Shining Rocks,” a natural amphitheater was shaped by wind, erosion, and tectonic turbulence over the intersection of two underground faults. This is the omphalos—the spot believed by ancient Greeks to be Gaia’s own navel. Homer called it “Pytho,” because it was here that the Earth Mother gave birth to a female serpent. “Why is it the serpent is always a woman?” The goddess/serpent appears in everyone’s mythology, I remind KB as we approach six massive columns re-erected where the western pediment of Apollo’s temple once stood. “Yeah,” she replies, kicking a loose a chunk of limestone across the weathered foundation, “along with the ‘hero’ who kills her.” KB’s sinewy, suntanned legs straddle one of the pedestals at the entrance to the sekos—Apollo’s inner sanctum—and her belly button taunts me between the waistband of low-slung hiking shorts and the hem of her tank top. “Both Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis, whacked the serpent goddess,” I remind her. “Naturally, the locals erected a temple here to commemorate his bravery. It was named after a cult that worshiped the sun god in the form of a dolphin—Delphinios—Delphi for short.” “How do you remember all this stuff?” KB asks.
Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)
The secret to having a good time in Bagan has nothing to do with getting there - all that takes is faith in a Burmese pilot and his ancient aircraft, or an unwavering belief that your 13-hour bus ride from Yangon will actually deliver you to the dusty plains before all your hair turns grey (update: travelers now have the options of new turboprop airplanes and the new highway means that drive time is now approximately seven hours). The secret is in finding a new way to look at the temples themselves, at just the right time of day, and in just the right light. I’ll never understand why most visitors cluster together to climb one pagoda when the plains are littered with thousands of others that afford anyone willing to visit a wholly new perspective on an oft-visited place. This is the way I look at every destination, whether new, old, untamed or untrammeled.
Lake Chūzenji, Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan
The Chuzenji Temple in Oku-nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was originally founded in 784 by a Buddhist monk known as Shodo-shonin and is located on the shore of Lake Chuzenji, which is approximately 1,300 meters above sea level. In the middle of the Meiji and early Showa periods, many European embassies built vacation houses around the lake, lending a unique atmosphere to the environs. There is something to do or see all year round here: cherry-blossom viewing in the spring, bird watching, marine sports and hiking in the summer, autumn colors in the fall, and the Snow and Ice Festival as well as cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter. You can either rent a car or catch a bus from Tobu-nikko Station, about a 40-minute ride.
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Crowds may swarm upon it daily from sunrise onwards, but exposure hasn’t dulled the impact of the largest religious monument in the world. Commissioned by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as the centerpiece of the mighty Khmer empire, the structure is inspired by Hindu sacred design and is estimated to have taken around 30 years to build. The biggest surprise upon visiting might be learning that the vast complex of spires, moats, frescoes, cloisters, and balustrades was constructed in such speedy fashion. You won’t be alone while witnessing it, but sunrise over the iconic temple remains one of the essential experiences in Southeast Asia. A return in the afternoon when the camera-toting hordes have dispersed is also advisable.
2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is revered as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The temple is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace at the historic center of Bangkok, and it is a highly important site to the Thai national identity. The Emerald Buddha itself is a 26-inch-high statue hewn from a single piece of deep-green jade stone, and no one but the Thai King is allowed to touch it. Visit the shrine to understand an intimate piece of Thai culture, but be sure to exercise the utmost respect!
295 Nakhon Ratchasima Rd, Khwaeng Dusit, Khet Dusit, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10300, Thailand
I come often to this wat, also known as the Marble Temple. It was built by King Rama V in 1899. It’s one of the loveliest in the city, but it’s less crowded with tourists than wats farther south in Bangkok. —Tanongsak “Dtong” Yordwai
1 Tiantan E Rd, Dongcheng Qu, China, 100061
This complex of Taoist religious buildings was constructed in the early 15th century under the Yongle Emperor, who also commissioned the Forbidden City, just to the north. The temple’s central building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a 38-meter-high (125-foot), three-tiered structure atop a three-tiered marble base. The wooden hall was built entirely without nails. Inside, the beautifully painted walls and ceiling make it a riot of color. On spring and summer mornings and on sunny winter afternoons, locals gather here to sing, dance, play games such as mah-jongg, and sip tea while catching up on neighborhood gossip.
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