Built with godly stories, fascinating architectures, and divine interpretation, these holy places offer hope and peace to people around the world.
1. Brihadeeswara Temple, India
Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. It was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1987. The Hindu holy place attracts tourists around the world because of its impressive size, architecture and mysteries.
|Brihadeeswarar Temple was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1987. Photo: Doanhnghiepvn
This massive granite Hindu holy place was built in 1010 by emperor Raja Raja Chola I of the Chola dynasty.
Emperor Raja Raja Chola I is considered as the most powerful ruler of the Chola dynasty. He also built the Peruvudaiyar Koyil in Thanjavur which is regarded as one of the largest Hindu temples.
How Brihadeeswarar Temple and its massive granite arches was built remained a mystery. The temple ground is over 320,000 square meters, and a piece of solid kumbam rock weighs more than 70,000kg while the nearest sources of granite are more than 60km away. A 20,000kg statue of Nandi at the entrance was also carved from a single stone.
There are also elaborate paintings across the walls of the temple, in many cases more ornate than others from the same time period.
2. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
|This gilded stupa was built by two brothers who had met Gautama Buddha. Photo: Doanhnghiepvn
This pagoda is also known as the Great Dagon Pagoda or the Golden Pagoda, all refer to the sacred meaning of this gilded stupa. Legend says it was built by two brothers who had met Gautama Buddha.
Although the pagoda is located in the heart of Yangon, the busiest center of the city, once you step inside there is a feeling of calm and peace takes over you. You could just sit there for hours meditating, admiring the beauty of the temple and getting rid of all burden.
The Shwedagon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter Konagamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama.
Built on the 51m high Signuttara Hill, the relic stands 170 m above sea level. Yangon’s zoning regulations ensure the Shwedagon’s prominence in the city’s skyline and no other building can be as tall as the pangoda.
3. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican
|St Peter’s Basilica is a must-visit attraction in Vatican. Photo: Rome
St Peter’s Basilica is unique in the world and a must-visit attraction in Rome no matter what religious beliefs you hold. Today, the basilica is a working church, as well as a tourist attraction, a monument, a masterpiece and a unique religious site.
This work of art is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s apostles according to Catholic traditions. Saint Peter is also the first Bishop of Rome.
Both the outside and the inside have been carved by the expert eyes and hands of some of the most important architects and artists in the history of Rome. You will find treasures contained in its tall naves. Each detail adds to the marvel this basilica elicits in its visitors.
|This attraction welcomes 10 million visitors per year. Photo: Christine Abroad
Overtourism is a real issue at St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican. Every day between 40,000 and 50,000 people cross the beautiful entrance doors of the church, amounting to 10 million visitors per year.
4. Lotus Temple, India
Lotus Temple is a religious temple that breaks many records. Built in 1986, it is one of the most stunning and interesting structures in the world.
Located in New Delhi, India, this is a sacred place of the Bahá’í tribe. According to Bahai scripture, the house of worship cannot have any pictures, statues or images displayed inside, hence the massive open space inside Lotus Temple.
|The complex has an unique architect. Photo: So City
The temple is built in a unique shape of a floating half-open lotus set amidst pools and gardens. It has won many architectural International awards and consider as a symbol of an excellent modern architect.
The flower shape has become a prominent attraction for tourists. This white marble temple can accommodate up to 2,500 people. It has even surpassed the Taj Mahal in annual visitors with more than 4 million visitors per year.
5. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Iran
|As the sun’s rays stream through, colorful light is reflected in the space. Photo: Iran Tour
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque is a traditional mosque is Shiraz, Iran. It was built during Qajar dynasty from 1876 to 1888 to serves as a place of worship for followers of Islam. It also attracts tourists thanks to its vibrant colors.
The mosque was designed using many beautiful colored glass pieces on the front side of the building, which emits beautiful reflections whenever the sun is shining brightly onto the facade.
This mosque is one of the most popular attractions in Shiraz. Tourists love the geometric effect of colors on the Persian tapestries as well as the interior of the building. Its exceptional architecture also extends to the exterior thanks to incredible tile work.
6. Paro Taktsang, Bhutan
|Bhutan’s most famous pagoda is on a steep cliff 3,800m above Paro valley. Photo: Earth Trekkers
This is the holiest place and the most famous building in Bhutan. Sitting on a steep cliff 3,800m above Paro valley, the small cliffside monastery known as the Tiger’s Nest is said to be the meditation site of an eighth-century Buddhist master. Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche, founder of Tibetan Buddhism) meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 hours.
The sacred Himalayan Buddhism complex was built in 1692. The four main temples and the courtyard are all exquisitely carved with portraits of gods and Buddhas defeating demons in the Paro Valley.
The courtyard has four enclosures, balconies have been bejeweled with religious symbols. The ambiance is shown in the form of wishing trees, fountains of the water of life, etc.
7. Tran Quoc Pagoda, Vietnam
Tran Quoc, located on a small peninsula on the east side of the West Lake, is considered the oldest in Hanoi. It was completed in the year 545 on the shores of the Red River and was moved to the current site in the 1600s due to erosion.
For Buddhists, this is one of the most sacred places in Vietnam, because it is believed to carry a cutting of the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat and achieved enlightenment.
Not only famous among Buddhism worshippers, but Tran Quoc Pagoda also a popular tourist attraction. The pagoda has several priceless worshiping statues in the front yard. Hundreds of years old, the statues were engraved and polished meticulously by skillful craftsmen.
|Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the most sacred Buddhist places in Vietnam. Photo: VOV TV
8. Buu Long Pagoda, Vietnam
The last one on the list is Buu Long Pagoda, also known as To Dinh Buu Long Monastery. The pagoda was built in 1942 on a hill near the Dong Nai River and underwent a major restoration in 2007.
With a special hidden location on a green hill, Buu Long Pagoda attracts many people as a destination to meditate, and also to admire the surrounding scenery in the middle of busy Saigon. One interesting feature of this pagoda is that followers are not allowed to burn incense or candles because it practices Theraveda Buddhism.
It also represents a harmonious architectural combination of Thai-Indian Buddhism and the architecture from the Nguyen dynasty. Tourists can find the combination in every detail like the carved dragons that curve down the temple stairs, the turquoise pool reflecting the temple’s white walls and golden spires, etc.
|Buu Long Pagoda has the architectural combination of Thai-Indian Buddhism and the architecture from Nguyen dynasty. Photo: Tamkyrt