Buddhist Temple & Monasteries in India
Starting from India, the land where Buddhism originated, the famous temples and monasteries are located primarily in the state of Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh region of Jammu Kashmir. In Bihar, the Mahabodhi Temple marks the place where Lord Buddha under the Bodhi Tree attained enlightenment. The temple and the tree are located in the town of Bodhgaya which also happens to house a number of monasteries constructed by monks and government of various Buddhist countries. Some worthmentioning monasteries include the Tibetan Monastery, the Thai Monastery, the Japanese Monastery, the Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan and the Chinese Temple & Monastery.
In the Ladakh region of Jammu Kashmir, monasteries can be found in great number and can be accessed by making either Leh, Kargil or Padum the base. From Leh itself, there are two well marked out routes following which tourists can visit most of the important monasteries. The first route covers monasteries like Shey, Thiksey, Stakna, Matho, Chemrey, Takthok and Hemis while the other route takes you to Spituk, Phyang, Likir, Alchi, Rizong and Lamayuru. From Kargil, Cave and Rangdum Monasteries can be visited. Padum makes a good base to visit Karsha, Bardan,Phuktal, Sani, Tonde, Zangla and Stongdey monastery.
Diskit and Hundur Monastery are two other monasteries which can be visited on a trip to Ladakh in Jammu Kashmir, India.
The state of Himachal Pradesh in India, too, has a number of monasteries that can be visited by tourists. Primary amongst these are the Namgyal Monastery, Kye Monastery, Dhankar Monastery, Rewalsar Monastery, Guru Ghantal Monastery, Kardang Monastery, Shashur Monastery, Tayul Gompa, Thang Yug Gompa, Kungri Gompa, Nako Monastery, Tashigang gompa, Lippa Monasetry and Tabo Monastery. Amongst these, two monasteries, Tabo and Kye, have completed thousand years of existence.
The most important monastery of Sikkim, the northeastern state of India is the Rumtek Monastery. The monastery is the seat of the exiled Karmapa of Tibet. Apart from this, tourists on the Sikkim Buddhist temple monastery trail also pay a visit to Pemayangtse Monastery, Phensang Monastery, Phodang Monastery, Ralang Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Tashiding Monastery and Yoksum Monastery. Similarly in Arunachal Pradesh, yet another northeastern state of India, tourists love to pay a visit to temples and monasteries. The major drawers of tourists are the Tawang Monastery, the Urgelling Monastery and the Bomdilla Monastery. The Itanagar Buddhist Temple of Arunachal Pradesh is also a prime attraction for tourist visiting the tiny state.
Buddhist Temple & Monasteries in Hongkong
The famous Buddhist Temple and Monasteries of Hongkong include Wong Tai Sin Temple, Po Lin Monastery and Chi Lin Nunnery.The first of these is basically a Taoist temple, but is equally revered by Buddhist and Confucians. Tourists come here because they want to know their fortune and get their wishes fulfilled. The second one, Po Lin Monastery, is quiet well known for its 34 m tall seated image of Buddha. This image is the tallest outdoor seated image of the Buddha in the world. The high point of the third, the Chi Lin Nunnery, is that it is the biggest handcrafted timber building in the world.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries in Tibet
For a Buddhist tourist, a trip to Tibet is extremely important since it offers a glimpse into a completely different form of Buddhism the Vajrayana Buddhism. The monasteries of Tibet are associated with different schools of Tibetan Buddhism like the Gelug, Sakya, Nyingm and Kagyu. The famous Buddhist temples and monasteries of Tibet are the Samye Monastery, the Drepung Monastery, Ganden Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Palkhor Monastery, Sera Monastery and Tashilunpo Monastery. The Drepung Monastery, associated with the Gelug School, was the first residence of the Dalai Lama. The Ganden Monastery holds the distinction of being the first main important Gelug Monastery. The Tashilunpo and the Sera Monasteries are also important Gelug monastery while the Palkhor Monastery is the only one where the three sect of Tibetan Buddhism - the Sakyapa Sect, the Kadampa Sect and the Gelugpa Sect coexist.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries of Korea
Beomeosa, Beopjusa, Haeinsa, Tongdosa and Donghaksa these are the names of the Buddhist temples that must be visited on a trip to Korea. Two of these - Haeinsa and Tongdosa are amongst the Three Jewel Temples of Korea that each stand for a jewel of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Donghaksa temple is amongst the most well known Jogye order female monks' academic centres specialising in Buddhist studies. The importance of Beopjusa lies in it being the head temple of the Jogye Order of the Korean Buddhism. The Beomeosa Temple also belongs to the Jogye order though it was originally associated with Hwaeom sect.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries of Japan
Japan has a number of Buddhist temples. Some of the important ones about which you should know are Ishiyama Honganji, Nagashima and Hojujiden. These are temples that once occupied an important place in Japanese Buddhism, but what you can see today, are mere remnants.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries of Malaysia
Buddhist tourism in Malaysia takes you to a number of temples and monasteries. Most important amongst these are Buddhist Maha Vihara, Dharma Realm Guan Monastery, Thean Hou Temple (all in Kuala Lumpur); Cheng Hoon Teng (in Malacca); Kek Lok Si Temple, Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram, Khoo Kongsi, Kuan Yin Temple, Snake Temple ( all in Penang) and Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (in Taiping).
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries in Singapore
Amongst those temples and monasteries that just cannot be missed out on your tour to Singapore are Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, Siong Lim Temple and Thian Hock Keng Temple. The first of these was constructed with an intention to spread dhamma and provide accommodation to monks coming to Singapore. It was a very small temple, however, as of today, it has gained international recognition. The Sakyamuni Buddha Gaya Temple is known for its central statue of Buddha that glitters with illumination of 1000 bulbs. The Thian Hock Keng Temple is a national monument and has a calligraphic panel, presented by the Emperor of China, Guang Xu, as one of its most prized possession.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries in Laos
Popularly known as wats, the Buddhist temples and monasteries, are the prime attractions that will catch your attention on your trip to Laos. Both Wat Manoram and Wat Xieng Thong can be visited by making Luang Prabang your base. Actually, the site which first became the place for the development of Luang Prabang is where Wat Xieng Thong stands. Wat Manoram is home to two tons sitting image of Buddha in the Bhumisparsha Mudra or the gesture of touching the earth.
Buddhist Temples & Monasteries in China
The famous Buddhist temples of China are Tanzhe Temple, Lama Temple and Guanghua Temple. The first of these, Tanzhe temple is very old, infact even older than the city of Beijing itself, near which it is located. The Guanghua temple, too, is very old. It was built in 558 and was initially known as Jinxian Court. The Lama temple, in comparison, is a pretty recent construction. Work on it began in the year 1694. Make sure that you visit all these temples and monasteries on your trip to China because missing out any one of them will mean missing out a part of Buddhism in China.