Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian subcontinent. Three types of structures are associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: monasteries (viharas), places to venerate relics (stupas), and shrines or prayer halls (chaityas, also called chaitya grihas), which later came to be called temples in some places.
The initial function of a stupa was the veneration and safe-guarding of the relics of Gautama Buddha. The earliest surviving example of a stupa is in Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh).
In accordance with changes in religious practice, stupas were gradually incorporated into chaitya-grihas (prayer halls). These are exemplified by the complexes of the Ajanta Caves and the Ellora Caves (Maharashtra). The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar is another well-known example.
The pagoda is an evolution of the Indian stupas.
A characteristic new development at Buddhist religious sites was the stupa. Stupas were originally more sculpture than building, essentially markers of some holy site or commemorating a holy man who lived there. Later forms are more elaborate and also in many cases refer back to the Mount Meru model.
One of the earliest Buddhist sites still in existence is at Sanchi, India, and this is centred on a stupa said to have been built by King Ashoka (273–236 BCE). The original simple structure is encased in a later, more decorative one, and over two centuries the whole site was elaborated upon. The four cardinal points are marked by elaborate stone gateways.
As with Buddhist art, architecture followed the spread of Buddhism throughout south and east Asia and it was the early Indian models that served as a first reference point, even though Buddhism virtually disappeared from India itself in the 10th century.
Decoration of Buddhist sites became steadily more elaborate through the last two centuries BCE, with the introduction of tablets and friezes, including human figures, particularly on stupas. However, the Buddha was not represented in human form until the 1st century CE. Instead, aniconic symbols were used. This is treated in more detail in Buddhist art, Aniconic phase. It influenced the development of temples, which eventually became a backdrop for Buddha images in most cases.
As Buddhism spread, Buddhist architecture diverged in style, reflecting the similar trends in Buddhist art. Building form was also influenced to some extent by the different forms of Buddhism in the northern countries, practising Mahayana Buddhism in the main and in the south where Theravada Buddhism prevailed.
When Buddhism came to China, Buddhist architecture came along with it. There were many monasteries built, equaling about 45,000. These monasteries were filled with examples of Buddhist architecture, and because of this, they hold a very prominent place in Chinese architecture. One of the earliest surviving example is the brick pagoda at the Songyue Monastery in Dengfeng County.
Buddhism and Hinduism reach Indonesian archipelago in early first millennia. The oldest surviving temple structure in Java is Batujaya temples in Karawang, West Java, dated as early as 5th century.The temple was a Buddhist sites, as evidence of the discovered Buddhist votive tablets, and the brick stupa structure.
The apogee of ancient Indonesian Buddhist art and architecture was the era of Javanese Shailendra dynasty that ruled the Mataram Kingdom in Central Java circa 8th to 9th century CE. The most remarkable example is the 9th century Borobudur, a massive stupa that took form of an elaborate stepped pyramid that took plan of stone mandala. The walls and balustrades are decorated with exquisite bas reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 square metres. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.Borobudur is recognised as the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
In Thailand, Buddhist temples are known as wat ’s, from the Pāḷi vāṭa, meaning "enclosure." A wat usually consists of two parts: the Phutthawat (worship area dedicated to Buddha) and the Sangkhawat (monastery dedicated for Sangha).
Thai Buddhist temples usually contains golden chedi in the form of a bell-shaped stupa tower covered with gold leaf, containing a relic chamber. Another typical feature is Prang tower in the top center of the Buddhist temple structure. Thai Buddhist temples consists of several structures, including Ubosot (ordination hall), Wihan (vihara), Mondop (mandapa), Ho trai (library), and Sala (open pavilion), Ho rakhang (bell tower), and other supporting buildings.
All of those temple structures display multiple roof tiers. The use of ornamented tiers is reserved for roofs on temples, palaces and important buildings. Two or three tiers are most often used, but some royal temples have four.
A lot of the Buddhist temples in Hawaii have an architecture that is very specific to the islands. This comes from the fact that the Japanese immigrants who migrated to Hawaii didn't have all the materials they would in Japan, and also the land structure was different and called for different building techniques. Because these Japanese immigrants had all the knowledge of Buddhism and were exceptional craftsmen, these temples ended up being a good personification of their religion.
There are 5 styles of architecture that can be found in the Buddhist temples of Hawaii. The styles vary because of the time periods they were used in.
This was the earliest form of Buddhist temples in Hawaii. They took a larger plantation house and converted them into places of worship by adding things like an altar or shrines. This style offered an inexpensive way to build temples, and using residential space made the worshipers feel more connected. The most noteworthy difference is that the homes were not built with the intention of being turned into temples, they were originally built as a place for families to live. This style dropped in popularity during the 20th century.
This style originated when Japanese immigrants with the existing skill of building temples and shrines moved to Hawaii. These were made to be as similar to the original Japanese temples, but certain aspects had to be changed because of lesser access to materials and tools. Notable characteristics of this style are beam and post structure, elevated floors, and hip-and-gable roofs. The interiors held the same structure as its original counterparts in Japan.
This style originated with Japanese immigrants who did not have the greatest shrine and temple building skills. These immigrants still wanted the temples to have their original feel, but lack the skill to do it, so the building techniques they used were simplified. Some characteristics of this style are straight hip-and-gable roofs, as opposed to the long, sloping ones, separate social hall, and covered entryway. These temples doubled as community centers, and these temples were similar in style to western churches.
This style only is unique to Hawaii and came about due to racial and religious movements. This religious movement referred to Pan-Asian Buddhism, which was a combination of Indian, Japanese, and Western Buddhism. When the first temple of this style was built, the architects that were hired had no previous experience in Buddhist architecture. This style was popular up until the 1960s. This was probably one of the most popular styles of Buddhist architecture in Hawaii; smaller temples that couldn't afford to hire architects to do this to their temple would take certain aspects of this style and apply it to their temple. The interiors of these temples are very similar to the original temples in Japan.
This style is also very similar to western churches. This style became popular in the 1960s. These temples are usually made of concrete, and the roof styles vary unlike the other styles of temples. The subcategories of this style are residential, warehouse, church, and Japanesque. Like the other styles, while the exterior is dramatically different, the interior mostly remained similar to the temples in Japan.
A stūpa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics that is used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.
Buddhist culture is exemplified through Buddhist art, Buddhist architecture, Buddhist music and Buddhist cuisine. As Buddhism expanded from the Indian subcontinent it adopted artistic and cultural elements of host countries in other parts of Asia.
Prambanan or Rara Jonggrang is an 8th-century Hindu temple compound in Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimūrti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) northeast of the city of Yogyakarta on the boundary between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.
A Buddhist temple or Buddhist monastery, is the place of worship for Buddhists, the followers of Buddhism. They include the structures called vihara, chaitya, stupa, wat and pagoda in different regions and languages. Temples in Buddhism represent the pure land or pure environment of a Buddha. Traditional Buddhist temples are designed to inspire inner and outer peace.
Vihara generally refers to a monastery for Buddhist renunciates. The concept is ancient and in early Sanskrit and Pali texts, it meant any arrangement of space or facilities for dwellings. The term evolved into an architectural concept wherein it refers to living quarters for monks with an open shared space or courtyard, particularly in Buddhism. The term is also found in Ajivika, Hindu and Jain monastic literature, usually referring to temporary refuge for wandering monks or nuns during the annual Indian monsoons. In modern Jainism, the monks continue to wander from town to town except during the rainy season (Chaturmas), the term "vihara" refers their wanderings.
A chaitya, chaitya hall, chaitya-griha, refers to a shrine, sanctuary, temple or prayer hall in Indian religions. The term is most common in Buddhism, where it refers to a space with a stupa and a rounded apse at the end opposite the entrance, and a high roof with a rounded profile. Strictly speaking, the chaitya is the stupa itself, and the Indian buildings are chaitya halls, but this distinction is often not observed. Outside India, the term is used by Buddhists for local styles of small stupa-like monuments in Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia and elsewhere. In the historical texts of Jainism and Hinduism, including those relating to architecture, chaitya refers to a temple, sanctuary or any sacred monument.
Buddhism has a long history in Indonesia, and is recognized as one of six official religions in Indonesia, along with Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Confucianism. According to the 2010 national census roughly 0.8% of the total citizens of Indonesia were Buddhists, and numbered around 1.7 million. Most Buddhists are concentrated in Jakarta, Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung, North Sumatra, and West Kalimantan. These totals, however, are probably inflated, as practitioners of Taoism and Chinese folk religion, which are not considered official religions of Indonesia, likely declared themselves as Buddhists on the most recent census. Today, the majority of Buddhists in Indonesia are Chinese, however small numbers of native also exist.
Buddhist temples or Buddhist monasteries together with Shinto shrines, are considered to be amongst the most numerous, famous, and important religious buildings in Japan. The shogunates or leaders of Japan have made it a priority to update and rebuild Buddhist temples since the Momoyama period. The Japanese word for a Buddhist monastery is tera (寺) and the same kanji also has the pronunciation ji, so that temple names frequently end in -dera or -ji. Another ending, -in (院), is normally used to refer to minor temples. Such famous temples as Kiyomizu-dera, Enryaku-ji and Kōtoku-in are temples which use the described naming pattern.
A candi is a Hindu or Buddhist temple in Indonesia, mostly built during the Zaman Hindu-Buddha or "Hindu-Buddhist period" between circa the 4th and 15th centuries.
In Indian architecture, gavaksha or chandrashala are the terms most often used to describe the motif centred on an ogee, circular or horseshoe arch that decorates many examples of Indian rock-cut architecture and later Indian structural temples and other buildings. In its original form, the arch is shaped like the cross-section of a barrel vault. It is called a chaitya arch when used on the facade of a chaitya hall, around the single large window. In later forms it develops well beyond this type, and becomes a very flexible unit, "the most common motif of Hindu temple architecture". Gavākṣha is a Sanskrit word which means "bull's or cow's eye". In Hindu temples, their role is envisioned as symbolically radiating the light and splendour of the central icon in its sanctum. Alternatively, they are described as providing a window for the deity to gaze out into the world.
Bhaja Caves is a group of 22 rock-cut caves dating back to the 2nd century BC located in the city of Pune, India. The caves are 400 feet above the village of Bhaja, on an important ancient trade route running from the Arabian Sea eastward into the Deccan Plateau. The inscriptions and the cave temple are protected as a Monument of National Importance, by the Archaeological Survey of India per Notification No. 2407-A. It belongs to the Hinayana Buddhism sect in Maharashtra. The caves have a number of stupas, one of their significant features. The most prominent excavation is its chaitya, a good example of the early development of this form from wooden architecture, with a vaulted horseshoe ceiling. Its vihara has a pillared verandah in front and is adorned with unique reliefs. These caves are notable for their indications of the awareness of wooden architecture. The carvings prove that tabla – a percussion instrument – was used in India for at least 2300 years, disproving the centuries-held belief that the tabla was introduced to India by outsiders or from Turko-Arab. The carving shows a woman playing tabla and another woman, performing dance.
Indonesian Esoteric Buddhism or Esoteric Buddhism in Maritime Southeast Asia refers to the traditions of Esoteric Buddhism found in Maritime Southeast Asia which emerged in the 7th century along the maritime trade routes and port cities of the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra as well as in Malaysia. These esoteric forms were spread by pilgrims and Tantric masters who received royal patronage from royal dynasties like the Sailendras and the Srivijaya. This tradition was also linked by the maritime trade routes with Indian Vajrayana, Tantric Buddhism in Sinhala, Cham and Khmer lands and in China and Japan, to the extent that it is hard to separate them completely and it is better to speak of a complex of "Esoteric Buddhism of Mediaeval Maritime Asia." In many of the key South Asian port cities that saw the growth of Esoteric Buddhism, the tradition coexisted alongside Shaivism.
Prambanan Temple Compounds is the World Heritage designation of a group of Hindu and Buddhist temple compounds that lie on the border between Yogyakarta and Central Java, Indonesia. It comprises Prambanan, Lumbung, Bubrah and Sewu temple compounds, all are located within Prambanan Archaeological Park.
Japanese Buddhist architecture is the architecture of Buddhist temples in Japan, consisting of locally developed variants of architectural styles born in China. After Buddhism arrived the continent via Three Kingdoms of Korea in the 6th century, an effort was initially made to reproduce original buildings as faithfully as possible, but gradually local versions of continental styles were developed both to meet Japanese tastes and to solve problems posed by local weather, which is more rainy and humid than in China. The first Buddhist sects were Nara's six Nanto Rokushū, followed during the Heian period by Kyoto's Shingon and Tendai. Later, during the Kamakura period, in Kamakura were born the Jōdo and the native Japanese sect Nichiren-shū. At roughly the same time Zen Buddhism arrived from China, strongly influencing all other sects in many ways, including architecture. The social composition of Buddhism's followers also changed radically with time. In the beginning it was the elite's religion, but slowly it spread from the noble to warriors, merchants and finally to the population at large. On the technical side, new woodworking tools like the framed pit saw and the plane allowed new architectonic solutions.
Kushinagar is a town in the Kushinagar district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death. It is an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre.
Ngawen is an 8th-century Buddhist temple compound in Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. Located in Ngawen village, Muntilan sub-district, 6 km (3.7 mi) to the east of Mendut temple or 5 km (3.1 mi) to the south of Muntilan town center. Ngawen temple compound consists of five temples, however today only one is successfully reconstructed.
Gadaladenyia Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Pilimathalawa, Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located on Gadaladenyia Road (B116), just up from the Gadaladeniya junction of the Colombo - Kandy Road (A1), approximately 12.5 km (7.8 mi) to the west of Kandy and 3 km (1.9 mi) from the ancient buddhist temple, Lankatilaka Vihara. It is considered one of the largest rock temples in Sri Lanka.
Vihara Buddhagaya Watugong also known as Vihara Buddhagaya is a Buddhist temple located in Semarang, Indonesia.
Ancient Indian architecture is the architecture of the Indian subcontinent from the Indian Bronze Age to around 800 CE. By this endpoint Buddhism in India had greatly declined, and Hinduism was predominant, and religious and secular building styles had taken on forms, with great regional variation, which they largely retained until and beyond the great changes brought about by the arrival of first Islam, and then Europeans.