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18 Of The Most Magnificent Temples In Asia You Should Not Miss

18 Of The Most Magnificent Temples In Asia You Should Not Miss

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

You may have seen photos of it hundreds of times before, but nothing compares to seeing the Angkor Wat up close. Spanning about 500 acres, this vast monument was originally constructed as a Hindu temple and later turned into a Buddhist temple.

From covered galleries, elevated towers and curved roofs to decorative sculptures, extensive bas-reliefs and hidden paintings, everything seems to come together perfectly for this architectural masterpiece. Gorgeous and grand, Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive structures you’ll ever come across.

angkor

    2. Iskcon Temple, Bengaluru, Karnataka

    Another comparatively recent temple on this list is the Iskcon Temple in Bengaluru. Built in 1997, it is dedicated to the Hindu gods Krishna and Radha. This is the largest Iskcon temple anywhere in the world.

    Bengaluru is a pleasant weather city throughout the year, but if you have to choose the best months, then book a flight to Bengaluru between October and February.

    isk

      3. Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

      Another Indian gem on the UNESCO World Heritage site list, the Maha Bodhi temple at Bodh Gaya is an ancient temple built by the Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. Though restored a number of times, the present day structure has most of its original elements intact.

      The main attraction of the Maha Bodhi temple is the holy Bodhi tree on its western side. It is said to be a descendant of the original tree that the Buddha sat under.

      maha

        4. Akshardham Temple, New Delhi

        This pink sandstone and white marble complex, spread over 100 acres, is one of the most recent additions to the list of most amazing Indian temples. It was built in 2005, and takes inspiration from its namesake in Gujarat.

        It surpasses both in beauty and scale. With more than 20,000 statues from the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, it is wise to plan out a whole day for the visit.

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        akshardham

          5. Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa

          This massive 12th century temple complex is a group of 120 temples and shrines contained within huge walls. Famous for its annual Rath Yatra, which is attended by millions of pilgrims, this temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath is one of Hinduism’s top four religious destinations.

          When you take a look, observe that the image of Jagannath is made of wood, not metal or stone like most Hindu deities.

          jagga

            6. Somnath Temple, Gujarat

            This marvelous piece of Asian history has been destroyed, sacked, and rebuilt multiple times over the past few centuries. It is the top tourist spot in Gujarat, having been constructed in 1947.

            When you visit, make sure to check out the Arrow Pillar on the sea protection wall. The pillar indicates a straight line over the water with no land between the shores of the temple and Antarctica.

            somnath

              7. Khajuraho Temple, Madhya Pradesh

              This temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is a Hindu and Jain temple. It is famous for the Nagara style of architecture and erotic sculptures that lie on the outer region of the temple.

              The interior part is more calm and serene than the outer part. Only a little remains of the huge complex that was built between the 10th and 12th century, but what remains behind can leave any person in awe.

              khaju

                8. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

                This is another 16th century wonder. Brightly painted, and elaborately sculpted, Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvati and her consort Lord Shiva. This particular Temple is a perfect example of Dravidian style architecture. Make sure to look at the carvings on the two gopurams.

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                meena

                  9. Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab

                  This temple is ultimately the headquarters of sikh religion and is known as Harmandir Sahib. This 18th century gold plated structure is a remake of the 16th century structure once destroyed by Afghan forces.

                  A symbol of Sikh faith, it is a combination of Hindu and Muslim architectural features. The best time to visit this temple is in the early morning and you should fly to Amritsar between October and March.

                  golden temp

                    10. Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa

                    This is a 13th century temple dedicated to the Sun God. Essentially, this structure is Surya, The Sun God, being carried across the heavens in a chariot with 24 exquisite wheels, and drawn by seven magnificent horses.

                    Make sure to look at the carvings done on the walls, as most viewers get so carried away by the unusual chariot that they overlook these images.

                    sun

                      11. Ananda Temple, Bagan, Myanmar

                      The Ananda Temple located in Bagan, Myanmar is a Buddhist temple built in 1105 AD during the reign  of King Kyanzittha of the Pagan Dynasty (1084–1113). It is one of four surviving temples in Bagan.

                      The temple layout is in a cruciform with several terraces leading to a small pagoda at the top covered by an umbrella known as hti, which is the name of the umbrella or top ornament found in almost all pagodas in Myanmar.

                      ananda

                        12. Borobudur, Indonesia

                        Sitting atop a hill, Borobudur is famed both for its architecture and stonework. Adorning the walls and balustrades of this three-tier temple are bas-reliefs depicting the life of Buddha. There are 2,672 relief panels in all, plus more than 500 Buddha statues.

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                        Peer through the perforated stupas at the upper level and you can actually spot a Buddha figure in each one. What makes the whole structure even more remarkable? No cement or mortar was used in its construction!

                        bor

                          13. Kinkakuji Temple, Japan

                          We don’t know what’s more remarkable: the fully gilded top floors of the Kinkakuji Temple or its shimmering golden reflection on the pond before it. Either way, this elegant structure is also notable for pulling off three different architectural styles.

                          The first level, with its white plaster walls and natural wood pillars, is patterned after palaces of the Heian period. The second story is inspired by samurai residences. Topped with a golden phoenix, the uppermost section is reminiscent of Chinese Zen halls.

                          kin

                            14. Prambanan Temple, Indonesia

                            The Prambanan Temple is actually a complex of more than 200 temples sitting on three concentric squares. Its focal point? The Shiva temple, which rises up to 47 meters!

                            North of this is the Brahma temple and south, the Vishnu temple. If you want to learn about the epic story of Ramayana, keep an eye out for the outstanding reliefs carved across the temples. Also check out a few of the surrounding shrines.

                            pram

                              15. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

                              What could be better than a temple gleaming in gold? One that’s studded with diamonds! And the sprawling Shwedagon Pagoda is a combination of both.

                              Every inch of its main stupa is covered in gold, with the upper parts showcasing more than 2,000 carats of diamonds along with other precious stones like rubies and sapphires. See if you can spot the 76-carat diamond sitting at its highest tip. On the same platform as this stupa are shrines, sculptures and prayer halls.

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                              shwe

                                16. Taktsang Dzong, Bhutan

                                Defying gravity is Taktsang Dzong (or Taktsang Monastery), a fortress set on the side of a granite cliff, just above clusters of blue pine and rhododendrons and with breathtaking views of the northern Palo valley. It actually also has a temple built inside a cave – believed to be the site where Guru Rinpoche landed when he introduced Buddhism to Bhutan.

                                Legend has it that he rode on the back of a flying tiger, giving rise to the monastery’s name, which in English, translates to Tiger’s Nest. You can hike from the riverbed below to the temple in three to four hours. Or, if you don’t feel like walking, you can arrange for a pony ride.

                                taks

                                  17. Temple of Heaven, Beijing

                                  The tranquil Temple of Heaven spans 267 hectares, making it the largest complex designed for sacrificial rituals to Heaven. That’s 92 ancient buildings housing 600 rooms, plus 4,000 ancient cypress trees!

                                  From its overall layout to the individual structures, the altar is designed to reflect the relationship between earth and Heaven. The notion that Heaven is round and the earth square, for instance, is depicted in the round temple halls with square bases and the semicircular and square forms of the northern and southern ends of the park, respectively.

                                  If you don’t have enough time to explore the grounds, just make sure you drop by the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and view its three-tiered marble terrace.

                                  heaven

                                    18. Wat Arun, Thailand

                                    For the best of riverside temples, seek out the majestic Wat Arun. Here, the main attraction is the 82-meter-high spire (or tower), which you’ll get to appreciate even more the moment you lay eyes on its colorful, ornate floral mosaics.

                                    The mosaics feature bits of colorful Chinese porcelain and seashells arranged in intricate patterns. At the base of this tower, you’ll find a variety of soldier and animal sculptures. To get the most out of your visit, also make it a point to spend some time exploring the temple’s green granite pavilions and the richly decorated Ordination Hall.

                                    wat

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                                      Ramanpreet Kaur

                                      Currently a student but don't know what direction to go in: Let us see if writing gets me anywhere :)

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                                      Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                      In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                                      Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                                      Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                                      Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                                      Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                                      The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                                      There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                                      How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                                      According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                                      Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                                      Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                                      The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                                      Listen carefully:

                                      We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                                      The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                                      Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                                      8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                                      There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                                      Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                                      1. Pray Daily

                                      You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                                      When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                                      Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                                      Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                                      2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                                      A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                                      By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                                      Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                                      If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                                      This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                                      How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                                      3. Smile Often

                                      Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                                      Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                                      Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                                      The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                                      4. Organize Your Working Desk

                                      A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                                      When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                                      Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                                      Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                                      5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                                      I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                                      Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                                      What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                                      6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                                      God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                                      I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                                      I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                                      7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                                      You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                                      How do you do that? This is my formula:

                                      First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                                      If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                                      If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                                      If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                                      Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                                      8. Go Exercise

                                      Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                                      The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                                      You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                                      12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                                      It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                                      Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                                      More Resources About Mindfulness

                                      Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                                      Reference

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