Magnificent architecture, rich history and a gigantic presence – visit any famous religious shrine in any part of the world, and you’d find these three things in common. And this is what makes it difficult to select the world’s largest temples. Even the Guinness World Record claiming the Akshardham Temple of India as the largest is disputed. So here we come with 10 religious shrines that closely compete with each other in terms of being the largest temple/shrine in the world.
Welcome to Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis or ‘The City of the Sun’. It’s a spectacular archaeological site, situated in modern day Lebanon. The Phoenician sky-god Baal and his consort Astarte, the Queen of Heaven, were worshiped here in the 9,000 BCE. The architecture of these temples are stunning. The Romans started to build the temples from the 1st century BC and continued for over a period of two centuries. Jupiter’s was the largest temple built in the Roman Empire and its impressive ruins can still be seen. It had 54 gigantic granite columns, only 6 of which are still erect and they are incredibly striking. The Temple of Bacchus was built during 150 AD and was 69 meters long and 36 meters wide. A World Heritage Site, it is one of the best preserved temple ruins from the Roman era.
- Temple of Christ the Savior
Situated on the northern bank of Moscva River in Moscow, Russia, it is the tallest Orthodox Christian cathedral in the world. The original church was commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon but it took 40 years to build. In 1931, the church was destroyed to make way for a colossal palace for the Soviet Legislature. After the dissolution of Soviet Union, the current church was rebuilt. The Cathedral still bears architectural similarity with the old construction, but more modern materials have been used to rebuild this historic and controversial building. The cathedral has an imposing height of 105 meters. The inner sanctum has walls that are studded with rare marble, granite and stones. The huge dome of the cathedral was made using the technique of gold electroplating presenting a spectacular view.
- Temple of Saint Sava
The Temple of Saint Sava is a Serbian Orthodox church located in Belgrade. It is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and is dedicated to Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The construction of the church started in 1985 and the larger part was completed by 2004, though the interior is still unfinished. The church is an imposing figure in the skyline of Belgrade as the dome is 70 meters high and the main gold-plated cross an additional 12 meters. The outer façade of the church is made in white marble and granite. With 91 meters in length and 81 meters in width, the Temple of Saint Sava is one of the most striking constructions in the history of Belgrade.
- Tikal (Temple IV)
Tikal Temple IV stands amidst the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, in modern-day Guatemala. The complex has 6 large step pyramids, and among them the largest is the Temple IV which was built to mark the reign of the 27th king of Tikal dynasty. However, some archaeologists believe it could have been made as a funeral temple of the king. Temple IV is the tallest pre-Columbian structure and is around 72 meters high. The hieroglyphic inscriptions in the lintels inside the temple suggests that it was built around 741 AD. It is the largest pyramid built in the Maya civilization though experts believe the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan might originally have been larger.
Hidden among the ruins of Jetavana, the sacred world heritage site of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, is the Stupa of Jetavanaramaya. The construction was initiated by King Mahasena in the 3rd century AD. It is the largest stupa measured by volume. Mahasena’s son Maghavanna I completed the construction and it took 15 years to complete. During its construction, Jetavanaramaya was the third tallest structure in the world with a height of 122 meters. It is not among the tallest anymore, but it is still the largest with a diameter of 2,508,000 square feet. Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used to construct this huge structure.
- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
The spectacular temple of Sri Ranganathaswamy is an important Hindu shrine in southern India that attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year. Dedicated to Lord Ranganatha (a reclining form of Vishnu), the shrine is located in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. Constructed in Dravidian architecture, it is one of the most illustrious temples in South India. The temple of Sri Ranganathaswamy is also one of the largest functioning Hindu temples in the world. Built over an area of 156 acres with a perimeter of 4116 meters, the temple has 21 large gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, 50 shrines and a number of small water bodies.
- Akshardham Temple
Akshardham Temple, also known as Swaminarayan Akshardham, is a large Hindu shrine situated in Gandhinagar in the state of Gujarat. The huge shrine complex is built over an area of 23 acres. At the center is the main Akshardham Temple which is 40 meters wide with a height of 33 meters. The temple was built with pink sandstone from Rajasthan and Italian Carrara marble. Abiding the Vedic architectural suggestion, no support from steel or concrete is found here. The central sanctum sanctum houses a gold-leafed image of Swaminarayan who is worshiped as the God.
One of the most integral parts of ancient history and culture, Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia, is the largest Buddhist shrine in the world. Built by dynasty of King Sailendra, in the 8th and 9th centuries and over a period of about 75 years, Borobudur was designed following Javanese Buddhist architecture. The shrine of Borobudur can be divided into three parts — the base, the body and the top — which resemble the parts of a human body. The shrine is built over an area of 2,500 sq. meter. The base is spread over a square space of 123 x 123 meters and its body consists of 5 square platforms. On the top there is a dome with a height of 35 meters. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is still visited as a pilgrimage every year.
- Karnak (Great Hypostyle Hall)
If you thought the pyramids and the Sphinx are the only attractions of Egypt, think again. Chances are you haven’t have heard of the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak. It is so impressive that, despite being in ruins, it still remains one of the most visited tourist spots of Egypt. Not only that, Karnak is the largest ancient temple complex in the world. The Great Hypostyle Hall, one of the most important structures of Karnak, is situated within the Karnak temple complex which was built around the time of the 19th Egyptian dynasty. The Hall has an area of 5,000 sq. meters. It has 134 colossal columns arranged in 16 rows supporting a roof. Though the roof has now fallen, the columns still exist, following a major reconstruction work.
- Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat, or Capital Temple of Cambodia, is a vast temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple during the Khmer Empire, it gradually transformed into a Buddhist shrine during the end of 12th century. It also happens to be the best-preserved temple of the shrine and widely admired for its majestic architecture. Angkor Wat comprises two basic aspects of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the galleried temple. The Angkor temple is based on a raised pedestal which looks over the city. Three rectangular galleries give rise to a central tower. The outer gallery measures 187 x 215 meters. The second level measures 100 x 115 meters and the inner gallery is built over an area of 60 x 60 meter square area. The top tower has got a height of 65 meters from the ground.
Originally posted 2017-06-07 07:24:39.