The world is full of temples on top of mountains, temples underground, or tall temples that reach the sky. However, temples made of gold have to be the most stunning of them all. In many Asian countries, temples made of gold, or golden temples, are quite popular. Gold has always been the most valuable object in history. In a way, these temples mix spiritual value with material value.
Golden Pavilion / Japan
One of the oldest temples made of gold, the Golden Pavilion is located in Kyoto, Japan. It was the retirement home of the shogun Yoshimutsu. Following his death, the house was turned into a Zen temple, according to his will. The temple also inspired another temple, a silver one, on the other side of the city, built by his grandson.
The two upper floors of the temple are of golden leaf. This was a conscious choice as they tried to symbolize the wealth of Kitayama culture and Kyoto families. The temple is on top of a pond on which its reflection can be seen throughout the day. Although two fires nearly destroyed Golden Pavilion, renovations helped the temple survive.
Harmandir Sahib / India
A temple whose name literally translates to the Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib is one of India’s iconic temples made of gold. It is in the city of Amritsar in the region of Punjab. Unlike many temples in India, it is not a Hindu Temple. The Golden Temple belongs to the Sikhs and it is their most holy site.
The center of the temple is covered in gold leaf which makes it the Golden Temple. Moreover, it is one of the oldest temples in India as it dates back to the late 16th century. As a consequence of being this old, the temple saw its fair share of destruction and wars. Even in 2023, unknown militants bombed the temple and injured 6 people.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple / India
India’s biggest Hindu temple made of gold is the Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. It is one of the most important temples for Hindus and it is mentioned in many Hindu texts. While the temple’s exterior is certainly golden, what makes the temple most valuable is what it has inside. The Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has unimaginable wealth.
The temple has many antechambers, some of which are secret, with gold and jewelry stored inside. Starting from the late 19th century, the Indian government has been able to get inside the antechambers and even in 2011, a secret antechamber was discovered. Aside from the cultural and historical value, it is estimated that the temple has a wealth of trillions of dollars.
Shwedagon Pagoda / Myanmar
The most important Buddhist Pagoda in Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda is Myanmar’s golden temple. Buddhists believe that this temple stores ancient relics from the last four Buddhas. The temple is on a hill and 112 meters tall. Moreover, Buddhist legends believe that the pagoda is at least 2,500 years old, making it the oldest Buddhist temple in the world.
The pagoda consists of bricks with gold plates. What is interesting about the gold plates is that they were donations from different monarchs. Therefore, the gold plates are a gateway to different eras of Myanmar, in a sense. Every year, the Buddhists of Myanmar fill the golden temple to celebrate their many festivals and conduct rituals.