Throughout human history, centers of worship have often been among the largest and most impressive buildings created by the hands of architects and builders.
This has been true across nearly all of the world’s different cultures, especially those that adhere to the Bhuddist faith.
The most well-known Buddhist temples are usually ones that feature high-reaching peaks and elaborately-decorated reliefs and sculptures along the exterior of these structures.
In this article, we’ll examine 10 of the world’s most famous temples and the history behind each one, including those responsible for the design and construction of these incredible buildings.
1. Brihadisvara Temple
The Brihadisvara Temple is among the world’s most prominent temple structures and is widely considered to be one of the greatest architectural achievements among those within the Hindu religion.
It’s located in the Thanjavur district of southern India near some of the country’s other famous religious structures that are scattered throughout the densely-forested plains. It is known among people of the local population of Thanjavur as Thanjai Periya Kovil, as well as Rajarajeswaram.
The Brihadisvara Temple is situated along the banks of the Cauvery river and is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world today that has stood for more than 1,000 years, according to historians.
Construction on the Brihadisvara Temple began around the year 1000 or 1010 A.D. and was designed by builders working under the emperor Rajaraja, who ruled over the Chola dynasty which dominated southern India and other coastal regions that are found around the southeastern Asian continent and the Indian Ocean.
The temple is one of the more iconic works from this era and is easily recognized by most people within the Hindu religion due to its pyramid-like structure and detailed relief carvings along the exterior.
2. Ramanathaswamy Temple
Not far from the Brihadisvara Temple is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, which is located in the Ramanathapuram district of southern India along the coast of the Indian Ocean on Rameswaram island.
This ancient temple is dedicated to the god Shiva, which is recognized as one of the preeminent deities in the Hindu religion. The Ramanathaswamy Temple is located on one of the holiest sites in Hinduism as it is nestled alongside other temples in the same complex that make up the 12 Jyotirlinga temples.
Historians believe the Ramanathaswamy Temple was built on a site that was well-known as a center of spiritual worship for earlier cultures and the structure itself dates back to the late 12th century.
It was built by architects working under the rule of kings from the Pandya dynasty, as well as the later Jaffna kingdom that ruled over this portion of present-day India from the 13th to the 17th centuries A.D.
3. Padmanabhaswamy Temple
One of the most popular buildings in India for specific rituals and ceremonies is the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which is located in Thiruvananthapuram.
This temple is viewed as one of the most prominent in all of the Hindu religion because it’s designed to serve as the “The City Of Lord Vishnu,” which is the English translation for the name of the city, Thiruvananthapuram.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple was built using a combination of the Chera style of architectural design, as well as that of the Dravidian style, which is well-known for having high walls and a monumental entrance tower leading into the structure.
Construction on the Padmanabhaswamy Temple is believed to have begun at some point during the 8th century. Since it was built, there have been numerous additions and remodeled portions of the temple that were made during various points in its history.
Visitors flock to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple from all over the world to view the Padmanabhaswamy, or Vishnu shrine located inside the temple.
4. Somnath Temple
The Somnath Temple is another structure that’s worthy of being mentioned among the other buildings that are considered the most famous temples in the world.
This magnificently-designed structure is located in the Gir Somnath district of western India along the coast of the Indian Ocean.
It is known among locals of the city of Prabhas Patan, Veraval as the Somnath Temple, or Deo Patan and is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for those in the Hindu religion.
Historians also believe that this temple is connected to the other jyotirlinga shrines scattered throughout southern and eastern India with evidence pointing to the fact that it may have even been the first of the 12 shrines to be constructed.
The Somnath Temple was attacked by Muslim raiders during the 11th century and extensive damage was done to the ancient site. However, efforts were made during the 18th century to rebuild the temple back to its former glory.
Today, the temple has been fully restored and is considered to be among the most beautiful of any temple in the world.
5. Yamunotri Temple
The Yamunotri Temple is a much smaller, yet spiritually significant building within the Hindu religion that is another one of the world’s most historic and famous temple structures.
It is located in the rugged and remote Uttarkashi district within the Uttarakhand state in the mountainous region of northern India.
The Yamunotri Temple is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna, which is a sacred river within the Hindu faith and a goddess that represents the main tributary feeding into the Ganges River.
The Yamunotri Temple was built during the 18th century and is known for being one of the most difficult temples in the country to reach.
Those willing to make the treacherous journey must trek through more than 8 miles of narrow, winding mountain roads that are followed by nearly 4 more miles that one must travel on foot to reach the temple.
6. Jagannath Temple, Puri
The Jagannath Temple, Puri is among the world’s most prominent temple structures that exists in a vast complex of different temple structures located in the coastal city of Puri India in the eastern state of Odisha.
This temple is dedicated to Jagannath, which is a form of the main god, Vishnu and is one of the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism.
The temple dates back to more than 1,000 years before present day and was built on top of an already-existing worship center that had been used for centuries prior to its construction.
This temple’s construction is believed to have begun around the 10th century A.D. and was likely built under the supervision of Anantavarman Chodaganga who was the first king during the Eastern Ganga dynasty.
The Jagannath Temple, Puri draws many millions of visitors each year and features four major tower-like structures that combine to make up the total temple complex.
7. Kailasanathar Temple
The Kailasanathar Temple is known among historians, archaeologists and those within the Hindu religion as one of the most impressive and the most well-preserved ancient temples still standing today.
This temple is located in the coastal city of Kanchipuram, which is nestled in the Tamil Nadu state of India.
The Kailasanathar Temple is also sometimes referred to as the Kailasanatha temple and is one of the few-remaining temples from the Pallava era of Indian history.
It is a square-plan temple complex that features a massive entrance hall, gathering hall and inner sanctum that’s all decorated with elaborate stone carvings and sculptures.
8. Lingaraja Temple
The Lingaraja Temple is known as one of the oldest temples in the Odishsa state, as well as one of the oldest in the country. It is located in the city of Bhubaneswar, which is now a large metropolitan area that’s home to many millions of residents.
This temple dates back to the 6th century A.D. and has been built in various stages throughout the centuries since it was established.
The temple is mostly built out of large stone structures that have been carved from sandstone and laterite. It’s another temple that’s dedicated to Shiva and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in this part of eastern India.
9. Kamakhya Temple
Another one of the most notable temples in the world is the Kamakhya Temple, which is located in the easternmost section of India.
This ancient temple is an elaborately-decorated site that also serves as a main gathering place for many annual festivals within Hinduism. This temple is considered to be the center of Kulachara Tantra Marga and is known for being focused toward Tantric practices.
It was built during the 10th century A.D., but the Kamakhya temple is believed to have been constructed on an already-existing center of worship.
10. Laxminarayan Temple
The Laxminarayan Temple is one of the more modern temples in India and is located in the sprawling metropolitan area of Delhi.
This temple is spread across a large complex of different towering structures and gathering halls, but it is the Laxminarayan Temple’s exterior colors of crimson red, gold and white that make this structure one of the more easily-recognized temples in the world.
Construction on the Laxminarayan Temple began in 1933 under the guidance of Jugal Kishore Birla and the structure was officially inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1939.