We have visited countless Buddhist temples during our travels through South East Asia, not to mention those in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka as well. The array of styles and character of the temples vary greatly depending on their era and location, but they each have a distinctive beauty of their own. Without further ado, here’s a gallery of ten of our favourite Buddha statues:
1) Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
We spent a wonderful day cycling around the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The city was built between the 11th and 12th centuries and was, in fact. the second capital of Sri Lanka. Additionally, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are plenty of Buddhas statues to see, although some of them aren’t in the best condition. This city is also home to an abundance of cheeky macaque monkeys, who were present at many of the temples.
2) Swayambhunth Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal
Otherwise known as the Monkey Temple because of the troupes of sacred macaques that inhabit the forests around it, this temple overlooks the city of Kathmandu. Offering excellent views of the city, the complex consists of shrines, stupas and prayer wheels along with Buddha statues galore. Indeed, it’s a fascinating and atmospheric place to visit, so much so that we have been to the Monkey Temple a couple of times.
3) Temples of Bagan, Myanmar
One of our favourite travel experiences ever was exploring the dusty roads of Bagan in Myanmar by bicycle. The archaeological zone (8 miles by 5 miles) is home to around 2,200 temples that were built between the 9th and 13th centuries. Furthermore, many of the temples house Buddhas which are very well preserved.
4) Luang Prabang, Laos
Laid back Luang Prabang, located on the Nam Khan River, is known for its many temples and also its monk’s alms ceremony. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, ornate temples with glittering golden roofs can be found on every street corner. Of course, there are no shortage of stunning Buddhist statues to be seen either and we were spoilt for choice during the week we stayed there.
5) Sukhothai, Thailand
This was yet another ancient site which we explored by bike (it’s often a great way to cover a lot of ground, especially when temples aren’t close to one another). Indeed, we loved the peaceful ambience of Sukhothai, which was beautifully maintained in addition to being well laid out. Furthermore, many of the Buddha images were in excellent condition.
6) Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This Buddha image which is featured on the impressive Bayon Temple is, in fact, one of the most well-known sights at the vast Angkor Wat Complex. Around 200 serenely smiling faces decorate the spectacular 12th century temple. Angkor Wat was the capital of the the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries.
7) Dharamsala, India
This golden Buddha can be seen high in the Himalayas at the Dalai Lama Temple Complex in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala. The complex is, in fact, home to the Dalai Lama himself and the striking Buddha statue can be seen in the adjacent prayer hall. Additionally, out in the courtyards, monks hold regular debating sessions which are fascinating to watch.
8) Ayutthaya, Thailand
This head entwined in the roots of a tree is, in fact, one Thailand’s most famous Buddha images. It can be found in Ayutthaya, another ancient city which can be explored by bicycle. Furthermore, the city is easily accessible from Bangkok and makes a great day trip from the capital.
9) Bangkok, Thailand
Situated atop a small waterfall and enshrined in mist, this Buddha statue can be seen on the short walk to Temple of the Golden Mount in Bangkok. A tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, a gilded stupa sits at the summit of the 80-metre high hill. There are, of course, hundreds of temples in Bangkok, but this one was one of our favourites.
10) Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is known its vast array of temples and Buddha statues. Indeed, each of them are unique in their own way and, as a result, we never tired of exploring them. From Burmese style temples to a temple crafted in silver, there are, in fact, over 300 places of worship. This Buddha statue was enhanced by the colourful background and a monastic robe.