Throughout thousand years of its history, the cultural exchange that came along with the development of international trade had shaped the richness and cultural diversity of the Southeast Asian region. Centuries ago, the influence of Hinduism had contributed to the creation of religious monuments and impressive temples. Some have disappeared due to the passage of time, destruction from wars or natural disasters, while many of them remain intact. Let explore the top 10 most impressive hindu temples in this region on list below.
1. ANGKOR WAT
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Considered as the largest religious monument in the world, the Angkor Wat complex was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. However, at the end of the 12th century, this complex was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple. Due to its excellent state of preservation and incomparable architectural and cultural value, Angkor Wat has become the symbol of Cambodia that appears on the national flag and today it is a site of the country’s greatest tourist attraction.
2. PURA BESAKIH
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Referred to as the Bali´s Mother Temple, Pura Besakih is a large complex of at least 86 clan temples and shrines on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung. This temple is the largest and most sacred in Bali and its location offers spectacular views of rice terraces, hills, mountains and streams. The complex has three main temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity. Pura Penataran Agung (in the center) has white banners for Shiva, the destroyer; Pura Kiduling Kreteg (right) presents red banners for Brahma, the creator; and Pura Batu Madeg represents Vishnu, the preserver, with his black banners.
3. ULUN DANU BERATAN
Location: Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia
Known as the Floating Temple, the majestic Ulun Danu is located in the highlands of the mountainous Bedugul regency, perched high on a plateau on Lake Beratan. A fine mist rises from the lake and floats in the air, surrounding the temple, giving it a somewhat surreal appearance.
The temple was built in worship of the goddess Danu, the queen of water, lakes and rivers and is also dedicated to the three gods Shiva, Visnu and Brahma. The complex consists of four sacred buildings and the last one, Pura Dalem Purwa dedicated to Sang Hyang Widhi, is the place for those who pray for fertility, prosperity and well-being.
4. TANAH LOT
Location: Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
When we talk about the most popular icon that personifies the romantic island of Bali, we will think about Tanah Lot. Its name means “Land in the Sea” due to its unique offshore environment. Imagine the image of a (pura) Balinese temple perched on top of the rock, facing the open ocean. With the waves crashing below and the dramatic colors of the sunset sky in the background, illuminated by the slowly disappearing sun. As one of the most photographed temples in Bali, an incredible view of the serenity of the tropical sun slowly disappearing beyond the horizon into the open ocean will be an experience to treasure for a lifetime.
Location: Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Another famous sea temple in Bali is Uluwatu. This is also one of the nine directional temples on the island intended to protect it from evil spirits. The inner sanctuary of the temple is perched on the edge of rugged cliffs that rise above the legendary waves of Bali in the south. Besides its unique and spectacular view, visitors can also enjoy the Kecak dance show that takes place on the cliff lake. The outdoor performance also shows the beautiful sunset in the background of the performance.
Location: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
In Yogyakarta on the island Java, there is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and the second largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia, the Prambanan temple. It was built in the 9th century, this temple is dedicated to the Trimurti (Visnu, Brahma, and Shiva) and locally known as Roro Jonggrang. Located not so far from the Borobudur Buddhist temple, the proximity of these two temples tells us that in Java Buddhism and Hyduism lived peacefully side by side. It is characterized by its tall, pointed architecture, typical of Hindu architecture, and by the imposing 47-meter-high central building within a large complex of individual temples. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, the temple has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
7. BATU CAVES
Location: Selangor, Malaysia
The Batu Cave Temple is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India that is dedicated to Lord Murugan – the god of war. The 272 colorfully painted steps set inside a limestone cliff will lead you to the hidden cave temple. It is also the place where the holiest annual festival of the Hindus is celebrated, the Thaipusam that attracts thousands of devotees and visitors.
8. VAT PHOU
Location: Champassak, Laos
Vat Phou is a ruin of the Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos, dedicated to the Shiva. Since the end of the 12th century, like the other temples of the Khmer Empire in Siem Reap, Cambodia, this temple has been converted into a Buddhist temple that today remains a place of worship for local Buddhists. It was formed as a Hindu expression of the relationship between nature and humanity.
In this temple, the Makha Bucha Festival is celebrated annually, which takes place on the third full moon of the lunar calendar. During the three days of the festival, thousands of Laotians come to the temple to pay homage to the Buddha and bring offerings. The grounds are lined with food and drink stalls, there are traditional Lao dance and musical performances, games and other entertainment.
9. SRI VEERAMAKALIAMMAN
Location: Serangoon road, Singapore
It is one of the oldest temples in Singapore and is located in the center of Little India, Sri Veeramakaliamman was built by the first Indian immigrants to come to the country. Dedicated to the goddess and destroyer of evil, Sri Veeramakaliamman or Kali, this temple has fascinating stories to tell about colonial Singapore. With its colorful and intricate statues and details, the temple remains one of the most spectacular places of worship in Singapore.
10. MARIAMMAN TEMPLE
Location: Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
Located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, the Mariamman Temple is a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to the rain goddess “Mariamman”. The temple was built in the late 19th century by merchants from India and is well preserved. This complex is the only Hindu temple in the city and is believed to have miraculous powers that bring luck and wealth to its visitors.