Rich with characters and tales, life guidance, and moral values, Hinduism is indeed one of the most colourful religions on earth.
Hinduism first came to the shores of Southeast Asia thanks to Indian merchants that settled in the area, bringing with them teachings and rituals that can be found not only in the divine temples, but also evolved with local customs and heritage. Here are some fascinating Hindu temples in Southeast Asia that you can add in your travel itinerary.
1. Besakih Temple, Bali
A holiday in Bali is incomplete without a trip to Besakih Temple, locally known as Pura Besakih, often touted as the biggest and holiest temple in the beautiful island. A sprawling complex comprised of more than 80 temples including the main temple, Pura Panataran Agung, its location on the fringes of Mount Agung makes the surrounding views truly stunning.
2. Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
A must-visit when in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is well-known for the huge gold-plated statue of Lord Murugan that greets visitors and devotees at the foot of the hill. Make sure you’re fit enough to climb up a steep 272 steps towards its massive cave complex, or come during Thaipusam where a unique celebration with processions as well as pilgrims performing kavadi (various acts of sacrifice and offering such as carrying a pot of milk on top of the head, wearing elaborate headpieces or frameworks on the shoulder, or piercing body parts with skewers) that takes place during the Tamil month of Thai.
3. Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta
Just two hours drive from Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java is one of the most amazing Hindu temples, the massive ancient temple complex of Prambanan. Built in the 9th century, it has three main temples dedicated to Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva, the symbols of Trimurti (divine trinity) in Hinduism.
4. Sri Senpaga Vinayagar, Singapore
During the 1850s, a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha, believed to be the remover of obstacles, was found by the side of a pond where a Senpaga tree (magnolia) stands. The community took this as a sign to build a temple, and named it Sri Senpaga Vinayagar temple after the tree and Ganesha’s moniker. It is one of the most photogenic temples in Singapore, thanks to the Dravidian architectural style that originated from southern India.
5. Tanah Lot, Bali
One of the most popular and iconic attractions in Bali, this temple is located atop a rock formation and separated by the ocean – the elements of both land and sea make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Enjoy breathtaking views complete with a full cultural experience of the Kecak Dance if you visit during the evening.
6. Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, Johor Bahru
In the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bahru lies a literal gem that you should not miss. What looks like an average (but still very pretty) Hindu temple from the outside is a treasure on the inside, thanks to the jewel-like effect from more than 300,000 mosaic glass pieces that adorn the interiors. The temple even pays respect to other notable figures such as Gautama Buddha and Jesus, as it is believed that all of them were messengers of God.
7. Banteay Srei, Siem Reap
Whilst Cambodia’s Siem Reap is largely famous for the amazing Angkor Wat temple complex, it also has another ancient Hindu temple that dates back to AD 967, located less than an hour away from the city centre. Relatively smaller yet embellished with glorious carvings, it is believed to have been built by women, judging by the intricately carved patterns, deities, and tales on the red sandstone walls and pillars. That may also explain its name Banteay Srei, which means ‘citadel of women’.
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