Buddhism originated in Asia and has spread all around the world throughout time. Considered as a peaceful religion reflecting the ways of life Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world. With over half a billion followers the monasteries and temples are present throughout the year. Asia in particular has some of the most concentrated population of Buddhist practitioners. Buddhist monasteries in Asia showcases the teachings and messages of Lord Buddha beautifully.
Asia has some of the most magnificent Buddhist monasteries and temples. Many of them are spiritual centers spreading the teachings of Buddha to anyone willing to learn. The architecture and structures might vary from places, but the overall, meaning, and representation of Buddhism. Here are the top 15 amazing Buddhist monasteries and more in Asia.
1. Taktsang Monastery, Paro Bhutan
Taktsang Monastery or the Tiger’s nest is one of the most beautiful monasteries in the world. Located in the steep face of a rocky hill, Taktsang has been the very essence of Bhutan. A symbol showcasing the significance of Tibetan Buddhism in this Himalayan Kingdom, Taktsang Monastery is a monastery to be in Bhutan.
To reach the monastery one has to walk on a fantastic trail with beautiful sceneries. The caves inside the monastery are considered holy with legends suggesting that great guru Rinpoche once meditated here. ParoTaktsang fits perfectly in any tour of Bhutan with its picturesque and religious magnetism.
2. Ganden Monastery, Tibet China
The Ganden monastery in Tibet was once one of the biggest monasteries in Tibet. Located just outside the city of Lhasa, it now only has a population of around 400 monks. Together with the Sera and Drepung monastery, it makes the ‘great three’ Gelug monasteries in Tibet. A visit here will help you to flow through the history and religious components of Tibetan Buddhism.
The majestic landscape views from its premises act as the bonus too. Ganden Monastery is now re-established in Karnataka, India. However, a visit to the one in Tibet is an experience and much more for any traveler.
3. Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu Nepal
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most iconic Buddhist domes in the Himalayas. It is also the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Even though Lord Buddha was born in Nepal, the teachings in the Himalayas came late through Tibet. A major attraction of any cultural vacation in Kathmandu Valley, Boudhanath is included in the UNESCO world heritage sites list.
The stupa is an ideal location for a spiritual break from everything. Hundreds of peoples circle the stupa saying prayers and devotion and travelers can join them. The sunset from one of the surrounding rooftop cafes is beautiful. Boudhanath is even more beautiful during the evening. The hint of Tibetan lifestyle is prevalent in the surrounding streets here too.
4. TaungKalat Monastery, Burma
The TaungKalat or Mount Popa is one of the most picturesque monasteries in the world. It is located at the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano rising over 750 ft. from the ground. TaungKalat is visited by many pilgrims and is considered by locals as the source of Nat spiritual energy. At the top are some majestic monasteries with sublime architecture. The sunset views from the top are majestic overlooking the vast expansion of the beautiful forest.
Burma has thousands of beautiful Buddhist monasteries. TaungKalat combines the natural and religious components for the travelers. The 25 minutes hike to the top is amazing and the views from the top make it all worth your time.
5. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is one of the most recognized temples in the world. It is the largest religious complex in the world by area. Inspiration for many literature and more, Angkor Wat was a Hindu temple up to the 12th century. It then gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple complex during the Khmer Empire. The different monuments and preserved temples in the prehistoric setting make Angkor Wat special.
Angkor wat as of present is one of the most important archeological sites in the world. It represents the architecture and culture through different kingdoms and era it has experienced. In the earlier 19th century French explorers re-discovered the Temple. Now the whole complex is one of the most visited places in Cambodia.
6. Borobudur, Indonesia
Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple made in the 9th century. It is the largest Buddhist temple in the world located in central Java near Mutilan. From far the temple is simply majestic. In its premises, you can truly admire the art and architecture more. Nine stacked platforms are leading the way to the top dome. Each platform has multiple Buddha statues and decorated relief panels. The central dome is surrounded by 72 beautiful Buddha statues.
This majestic temple is widely used in postcards representing Indonesia. The restorations done in much of the 2oth century have made it possible for travelers to witness this temple.
7. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most beautiful Buddhist Pagodas in the world. Also known as the Great Dragon Pagoda or Golden Pagoda. Glided in gold, the views of sunrise is fantastic from the stupa. It is believed to hold the relics of Buddha inside. Pilgrims visit the pagoda each day in numbers of thousands. Dominating the skyline of Yangon, the stupa is one of the must-see attractions in Myanmar.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagodas in Myanmar. The architecture and beauty of this pagoda have been the subject of pride of the Burmese people. Joining the monks in their prayer session will showcase to you the deep spirituality of Buddhism.
8. Jokhang Temple, Lhasa Tibet
Jokhang Tempe is one of the most sacred and important Temples in Tibet. The Barkhor Square where the temple is located has been the gathering place for different festivals and occasions here. Jokhang temple is made with unique Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian Vihara architecture. The Temple and surrounding now have multiple other attractions and tourist-friendly markets here.
Jokhang Temple alongside Potala and Norbulingka places is one of the three UNESCO world heritage sides in Tibet. Located in the heart of Lhasa city, Jokhang temple is a perfect place to witness different components of Tibetan Buddhism.
9. WatPhraKaew- The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand
WatPhraKaew is a glorious and beautiful Buddhist temple in Thailand. It is within the precincts of the Grand Palace, the residence of the Kings of Siam. WatPhraKaew is an ideal example of beautiful Thai architectural styles. The main hall has the statue of meditating Buddha made partially with jade and gold. Hence it is named as the temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha was constructed around 1783 AD. Started from the main hall different other structures has been made or transported after that in different period. It acted as the royal temple for the kings only for many years then. Now open to the public one can admire the designs, paintings, sculptures, and architecture of this wonderful temple.
10. Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
Dambulla Caves is a world heritage site located in the center of Sri Lanka. There are in total 153 Buddha Statues in over 80 caves here. The major five caves are large with murals and the biggest of the statues here. Some of these ages back to the 9th century and even older. Similarly, the murals now restored has been known to be from multiple centuries old.
Dambulla Caves are some of the best-preserved cave complexes in the world. The religious significance has certainly helped in the management of the area. The monastery here has historic significance too. Just below the caves is a massive Golden Buddha Statue leading the visitors to the Dambulla Golden Temple.
11. Key Monastery, India
Key or Ki is a majestic monastery located at an elevation of 4166 meters in the Spiti Valley of the western Himalayas. Founded in the 11th century Key Monastery is a prime example of Pasada architecture. Different murals, Thangkas, and paintings present in the monastery have been the major attraction of the Gompa. With the looks of the fortress and its location, it is a must-visit place in India. The Landscape is amazing, views even spectacular, and with the monastery, one can get a complete pack of unique delights here.
12. Rongbuk Monastery, Tibet China
Rongbuk Monastery is one of the highest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Located in the northern base of Mount Everest it has some of the best views of the Himalayas that one can ask for. The sunrise views of Everest from the Rongbuk Monastery is amazing. It is one of the few monasteries in the world where the monks and nuns live together.
Rongbuk Monastery sees more tourists than pilgrims because of its location. However, it holds a big celebration for the SakaDawa festival on the fourth month of the Tibetan Calendar.
13. ‘The Monkey Temple’, Swayambhunath
Swayambhunath temple is unofficially the oldest Buddhist temple in the world. It is also known as the Monkey temple for the number of monkeys residing in the temple. Swayambhunath temple is located at the top of the hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley.
Although the temple is believed to be self-created its structures were mostly built around the Licchavi era. Both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims visit the Swayambhunath Temple.
14. ErdeneZuu Monastery, Mongolia
The ErdeneZuu Monastery is the first Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia. Founded in the fifteenth century it has seen a fair share of prosperity and neglects. It is only after 1990 the restoration works took place and made the monastery popular among travelers.
The area of ErdeneZuu is huge with small Chortens surrounding the main Monastery. Although the number of temples has reduced there were once over 300 beautiful temples surrounding ErdeneZuu.
15. Hanging Monastery, Datong China
Hanging Monastery is a monastery built on a side of a cliff during the 5th century. About 250 ft above the ground the monastery is one of the main historic attractions in Shanxi Province.
Although primarily Buddhist temple followers from Taoism and Confucianism also visit the Monastery. There are forty halls and pavilions constructing this monastery. The Hanging Monastery is one of the most unique places that one can be.
Twang Monastery, India
Twang is the second-largest monastery in the world after Potala Palace. With 65 residential buildings, a library, and stupas it is built like a fort enclosed by a 930 feet long compound wall.
Mayadevi temple, Lumbini Nepal
Mayadevi Temple is the exact location of the Birth of Lord Buddha. The holiest Buddhist pilgrimage Mayadevi Temple is in Lumbini.
Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, India
The Mahabodhi temple marks the location where Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. The main temple dates back to the Ashoka era around 232 CE.
Sera Monastery, Tibet
Sera Monastery is one of the major monasteries in Tibet. As of present, it is the largest monastery by monks’ population in the world. The debate session here is famous for its level.
PunakhaDzong is one of the biggest monasteries/dzongs in Bhutan. It is located in a beautiful location between the Po Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. It was the administrative seat for the Government of Bhutan before 1955.
Pha That Luang, Laos
Pha That Luwang is a gold-covered Buddhist temple in the center of Vientiane, Laos. As a popular belief, it was establish around the 3rd century. However, the stupa as of now is the recent work. Pha That Luang consider as the national monument of Laos.
Buddhist Monasteries are some of the best places to be in Asia. The merge of religion, culture, and nature tops the charts before any other destinations. Visit the spiritual ends of Asia by being in these magical monasteries.