Temples are sacred places of worship. Countless numbers have been built since time immemorial, just as countless numbers have been destroyed and completely forgotten. However, some have lasted for centuries and remain in remarkably good condition today. No matter what your beliefs are, these incredible structures will amaze you. Don’t just take my word for it, scroll down, will ya?
10. Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet, or the Temple of the Buddha Si Sanphet, was built around the 15th century. Unlike Thailand’s other temples, monks were not allowed to live in it. Instead, it was used exclusively for storing royal items and conducting royal ceremonies. In 1491, King Ramathibodi II added two chedis to the temple to hold the remains of members of his family. Chedis are a vital part of Thailand’s temples. They’re built after the body of a deceased loved one has been cremated, and the ashes of the dead are usually kept inside.
9. Dwarkadhish Temple
Suvarna Dwarka, a town in ancient Anarta, India, was the capital city of Lord Krishna’s kingdom. It’s the home of the Dwarkadhish temple, which is regarded as one of the holiest places in the world by Hindus. It is also their most important site for pilgrimages. Its main idol is an image of Krishna depicted as the god Vishnu, with four arms. It is believed that Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu. There are also idols of Baldejvi (Krishna’s brother) and Pradyumna and Aniruddha (Krishna’s son and grandson). There are also several other shrines dedicated to his mother, Shiva, and Vishnu himself.
8. Wat Tham Suea
Wat Tham Suea is located in Thailand and was given the name “Tiger Cave Temple” after the tiger’s paw prints that line the walls of the limestone cave in which it was built. It’s considered a holy site by the Buddhists in Krabi, Thailand. About 250 monks and nuns presently live in and maintain the temple. Tourists come as much for the temple as for the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding forest. Massive banyan trees grow everywhere, and one of these—nicknamed the “Wonderful Tree”—is believed to have the largest root system of any tree in Thailand.
7. Wat Tilok Aram
Wat Tilam Aram is over 500 years old, and while it comes with a grab bag of interesting historical facts, most of its intrigue comes from its recent history. The temple is believed to have being built by King Tilokanart of the Mengrai dynasty and was deliberately submerged more than 68 years ago during the construction of Phayao Lake. Recent attempts to drain the water around the temple have been met with resistance because doing so might cause more damage to the temple than anything the water could do.
6. Pyramid Of The Magician
Uxmal, which means “built thrice,” is a destroyed Mayan city in Yucatan, Mexico. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. One of its major landmarks is the “Pyramid of the Magician,” which is also called the “House of the Dwarf” because of the belief that it was built by a dwarf who hatched from an egg. According to legend, the dwarf grew into an adult in a day and built the pyramid in a night. In reality, the pyramid was constructed in the sixth century.
5. Temple Of The Inscriptions
The Temple of the Inscriptions is another Mayan temple built on top of a pyramid that was erected between A.D. 672 and 682. The 20-meter-tall (66 ft) temple has four pillars decorated with the image of several adults carrying a deformed child who has a snake-like leg with six toes. The name of the temple was derived from the three tablets inside, which are marked with Mayan glyphs and date as far back as A.D. 692.
4. Asamai Temple
The Hindu population of Afghanistan has been greatly reduced in recent years because of pressure from the Mujahideen and the Taliban, which forced them to flee to India. Within nine years, the numbers of Hindu worshipers in Afghanistan fell from 20,000 families to just 500 families. Asamai Temple in Kabul is one of the few temples still standing in Afghanistan today. It is named after the Asamai Mountain, or Koh-i-Asamai. The Asamai Mountain itself is named after Asha, the goddess of hope. According to legend, Asha lives at the very top of the mountain. It is believed that the fire in the temple, the Perpetual Light or Akhand Jyoti, has been burning continuously for 4,000 years.
3. The Great Plaza Temples
The Great Plaza is the most important building in Tilak, Guatemala. It is also home to two ancient Mayan temples—Temple I, also called the “Temple of the Great Jaguar,” and Temple II, also called the “Temple of the Mask.” The Temple of the Great Jaguar was constructed by Ah Cacao, who was also known as Jasaw Chan K’awiil. Ah Cacao was responsible for bringing Tilak back to its original position of affluence and power after a stagnant period of more than 150 years in which no new buildings were built and no important event was recorded.
2. Varaha Cave Temple
The Varaha Cave Temple in Mahabalipuram, India was built straight into a mountainside in the seventh century. It’s dedicated to Vishnu, and it holds some of the most intricate Hindu rock-cut sculptures in the world. These include highly detailed two-dimensional sculptures of Lakshmi, Durga, and Varaha, the boar-shaped incarnation of Vishnu. The temple’s pillars are carved to look like lions, and several panels show Varaha carrying Bhudevi—the goddess of mother Earth—out of the ocean.
1. Temple Of Dendur
The Temple of Dendur is an Egyptian temple presently in New York. It was built in Egypt in 15 B.C. during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus Caesar. The temple was given to the United States in 1965 and is presently displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It honors the goddess Isis and two other gods, Harpocrates and Osiris. It also honors Peteese and Pihor, the sons of a Nubian chief who assisted the Romans during war.
Egypt decided to give the Temple of Dendur to the US as a show of thanks for helping with the temple-moving project. The temple was dismantled into 642 blocks which weighed more than 800 tons in total before being packed into 661 crates and shipped to the US.