Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion and has its origins in ancient India. With its emphasis on meditation and mindfulness, its teachings and philosophy find much relevance in today’s world of consumerism and minute attention spans.
Whether you are an adherent, an interested scholar or a curious layman, one of the best ways to get acquainted with Buddhism and understand it more deeply is by visiting some of its many beautiful monasteries. Here is a list of the ten most amazing Buddhist monasteries in Asia –
BOROBUDUR TEMPLE, INDONESIA
The world’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the great archaeological sites of Southeast Asia and is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. Located between two volcanoes and rivers, experience one-of-a-kind design and location, which reflects Buddhist cosmology and philosophy. It is well worth a visit.
PARO TAKTSANG/TIGER’S NEST, BHUTAN
Guru Padmasambhava, credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan is said to have meditated in the Tiger’s Nest. This cultural icon of Bhutan is located in the stunning Paro Valley. Legend has it that Padmasambhava flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress.
GANDEN MONASTERY, TIBET
The Ganden Monastery lies in a hilly natural amphitheater offering stunning views of its surrounding valleys. One of the three great Gelug University monasteries of Tibet, it was completely destroyed by the PLA during the 1959 Tibetan uprising and has been undergoing reconstruction since the 1980s.
ERDENE ZUU MONASTERY, MONGOLIA
The earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, the Erdene Zuu Monastery is a part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape and is a World Heritage Site. It was once a showpiece museum during the communist rule and is finally an active Buddhist monastery today.
LAMA TEMPLE, CHINA
One of the largest of its kind, the Lama Temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. It is famously known for the three bronze statues of the Buddhas of the three ages. Plus, it houses an 18m tall white sandalwood statue of Maitreya Buddha, which finds mention in the Guinness Book of Records.
TAUNG KALAT MONASTERY, MYANMAR
Perched on top of a volcano, it is one of the most prominent pilgrimage sites of the country. An arduous climb of 777 steps to reach the peak is rewarded with stunning views of the city of Bagan, the Taung Ma-gyi peak and more than 200 streams and springs which originate from the mountain itself.
YUNGBULAKANG PALACE, TIBET
The palace of the first Tibetan King, the Yungbulakang Palace was turned into a monastery in the 17th century. Standing majestically on a hill on the banks of the Yarlung River, it houses beautiful statues of Tibetan rulers, thinkers etc along with some stunning murals depicting Tibetan history.
TIANNING TEMPLE, CHANGZHOU, CHINA
Noted for housing the world’s tallest pagoda, the Tianning Temple boasts the use of gold and brass for the rooftops, which is blended seamlessly with bronze and jade decorations. The wood in the structure has imported from Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.
PUNAKHA DZONG, BHUTAN
The second oldest Dzong in Bhutan and sandwiched between two rivers, it is widely regarded as the most majestic Dzong in Bhutan. It houses important images, statues and murals depicting the life of the Buddha. It is also host to the significant Domche festival.
THE HANGING TEMPLE, CHINA
One of Time magazine’s Top Ten Most Odd Dangerous Buildings, The Hanging Temple is located on the side of a cliff 75 meters above the ground. Supported by oak crossbeams, it houses 40 rooms linked by a complex array of passageways.
There you have it. If you do decide to take this trip which is sure to enlighten and educate, you can find the best flight deals at Cheapfareguru.