With the historian Bettany Hughes exploring the 'Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World' on BBC Two tonight, we took a look at the proposed list...
One of the earliest Buddhist temples built in brick that still survives today, the Mahabodhi Temple is home to a colossal image of a seated Buddha touching the earth with his right hand. The Temple is said to be the most sacred site in Buddhism as it is the supposed site where Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Built in the 14th Century, this temple is an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. There are four Buddhas on each corner of the temple, with one also in the centre; these Buddhas represent the five elements. There are also 13 rings from the base to the pinnacle which represent the path to enlightenment.
Located in Kandy, this temple has long been a centre of Buddhist faith. The Temple of Tooth is said to house the left upper canine tooth of the Lord Buddha. According to legend, the tooth was taken from Buddha on his death bed and smuggled to Sri Lanka in the hair of a princess in 313AD. The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-story inner shrine fronted by two large elephant tusks and rests on a solid gold lotus flower.
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Wat Pho is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok and is home to more images of Buddha than any other Bangkok temple. Thailand's largest Buddha, the Reclining Buddha is sheltered within Wat Pho – it is 46 meters long, 15 meters high and is covered in gold plating and decorated with mother of pearl. There is also a working Buddhist monastery in the southern walled compound of the complex.
The city of Angkor was once the capital of the Khmer Empire. The monastery, Angkor Wat, was built by King Suryavarman II in dedication to Hindu gods, Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu. A new king soon decided that Hinduism had failed him and the Hindu decorations and deities were replaced by Buddhist carvings, statues and art when Angkor Wat became a Buddhist shrine.
The world's largest seated Buddha, which is 34 metres tall and 250 tonnes in weight, took 12 years to create. The bronze statue sits amid lush mountain scenery on Lantau Island, located at the mouth of the Pearl River. The statue is called Tian Tan because its base is a replica of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The Buddha's right hand is raised to remove affliction. His left hand rests on his knee, representing happiness.
Hsi Lai, meaning 'coming to the West', is a Chinese temple and monastery in Hacienda Heights. The temple belongs to a new Buddhist order called Fo Guang Shan which emphasises Buddhist outreach and unity. Hsi Lai is a working monastery in addition to a temple, with a number of monks and nuns living in the complex.
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