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Southeast Asia's Top 5 Must-See Temples


History  •  7 Aug, 2023  •  2,517 Views  •  ⭐ 5.0

Written by Shivani Chourasia


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Southeast Asia, with its rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and history, is home to some of the world’s most remarkable ancient temples. These temples, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stand as testaments to the architectural prowess and spiritual dedication of ancient civilizations. If you're planning a trip to this mesmerizing region, here are the top 5 ancient temples you shouldn't miss.

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Archaeological Park: Int'l tourists to Cambodia's Angkor Wat up 663%, ET  TravelWorld
Image Credits: ET TravelWorld

Easily one of the most famous temples in the world, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 12th century, dedicated to the god Vishnu. Over time, it transitioned into a Buddhist temple. The intricate bas-relief carvings, sprawling complex, and awe-inspiring sunrise views make it a must-visit. The temple's design symbolizes Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu mythology.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

The Magnificent Borobudur Temple Of Indonesia - WorldAtlas
Image Credits: World Atlas

Located on Java Island, the Borobudur Temple is the world's largest Buddhist temple. It was built during the 8th and 9th centuries by the Sailendra Dynasty. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. Pilgrims and tourists alike can follow the path circumnavigating the temple, which showcases over 2,600 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues, symbolizing the journey from the world of desire to enlightenment.

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Bagan Temples, Myanmar

A Photo Trip to Bagan, Myanmar - The Atlantic
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The ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar was once home to over 10,000 temples, pagodas, and monasteries built during the 9th to 13th centuries. Today, over 2,000 of these structures still stand, making the Bagan Plains one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Each temple has its unique architecture, murals, and stone carvings. A hot air balloon ride at dawn provides a breathtaking view of this vast sacred landscape.

Prambanan Temple, Indonesia

Prambanan temple complex, Indonesia - Times of India Travel
Image Credits: The Times of India

Also located on Java Island, close to Borobudur, Prambanan is a stunning Hindu temple complex built in the 9th century. It is dedicated to the Trimurti: the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu), and the Destroyer (Shiva). The main temple dedicated to Shiva soars to a height of 47 meters and is intricately adorned with reliefs illustrating the epic tale of the Ramayana.

My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam

Explore the global cultural and historical values of My Son Sanctuary |  Vietnam Tourism
Image Credits: Vietnam Tourism

Located in a lush jungle basin in Central Vietnam, My Son Sanctuary was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for several centuries. Built between the 4th and 13th centuries, the red brick temples are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. While many structures were damaged during various wars, efforts have been made to restore and preserve this ancient site. The intricate carvings and designs showcase the artistic brilliance of the Cham people.

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Conclusion

Southeast Asia's ancient temples are not just remnants of bygone eras; they are vibrant cultural and spiritual centres that continue to inspire and fascinate visitors from around the world. Whether you're a history enthusiast, an architect, a spiritual seeker, or just a curious traveller, these temples offer a deep dive into the heart and soul of Southeast Asia's past. As you walk their sacred halls and courtyards, you'll be transported back in time, connecting with the dreams and devotions of ancient civilizations.

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