Sacred Architecture (02:18)
Gautama became the Buddha 2,500 years ago; his relics gave rise to India’s Mahabodhi Temple. As Buddhism spread, each culture created temples and shrines.
Meenakshi Temple (06:52)
Each day, 15,000 Hindu worshippers visit the temple in Madurai. The 33,000 divinities depicted in the temple are representative manifestations of the three major Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Madurai Temple Namesake (02:30)
The Meenakshi Temple owes its popularity to a legend that joins a woman to a god. Meenakshi is said to have been born with three breasts and became a godlike warrior. She challenged Shiva, fell in love, and they married.
Brihadeeswara Temple (02:39)
The temple is over 1,000-years-old and considered one of the most beautiful buildings of South India. The temple is devoted to Shiva, the most popular deity in the Tamil Nadu region.
Architectural Blueprint (02:59)
The Brihadeeswara Temple’s proportions are precise measurements. Its design is based on the mandala, a Buddhist representation of the cosmos that is found throughout Asia.
Pilgrimage Site (01:53)
Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Mahabodhi Temple is a stupa that houses related relics. From India, Buddhism spread across the Asian continent.
Shwedagon Pagoda (05:11)
Buddhist missionaries reach the former kingdom of Burma, renowned for its gold and precious gems. The stupa in Yangon is the world's largest and entirely covered in gold.
Seismic Plain (04:29)
Over 3,000 sacred buildings are located on the plain surrounding Bagan, making it the most important site of Buddhist architecture. A 6.8-magnitude earthquake in 2016 damages the Ananda Temple and many other structures.
Erdene Zuu Monastery (08:19)
Karakorum's holy site is the oldest surviving Buddhist center in Mongolia. Abatai Khan orders its construction in 1586 after meeting the Dalai Lama. The Soviets executed monks and destroyed many of the country's temples.
The Japanese tradition revolves around reverence for powerful nature spirits, called kami. The buildings at Omiwa Shrine are wooden, requiring constant upkeep and restoration. Mount Miwa itself serves as a sacred shrine.
"Dragon Treasure Mountain" (09:24)
Daitoku-ji is the most secretive temple in Japan; the Zen monastery is located on the hills north of Kyoto. Monks explain the significance of rock gardens and tea houses.
Credits: Asian Temples: Humans, Nature, and Gods (00:47)
Credits: Asian Temples: Humans, Nature, and Gods
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