The world’s biggest Hindu temple is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It covers an area of over 400 acres. The world’s largest active temple is Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, India, which covers over 150 acres. The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, India, is currently under construction and projected to become the world’s largest temple at 700 acres.
Temples are structures built for religious or spiritual activities. They serve as places of worship and range greatly in size. Some temples cover just a small room or shrine, while others sprawl over hundreds of acres. Determining the biggest temple in the world depends on the criteria used. This article will examine different ways to measure temple size and highlight some of the most massive temple complexes globally.
Measuring Temple Size
There are several factors to consider when determining the size of a temple:
- Total land area – How much physical space the temple grounds cover.
- Floor area of buildings – The square footage of enclosed temple structures.
- Building height – The tallest dimension of the temple’s architecture.
- Capacity – How many people can fit inside the temple buildings.
Using these metrics provides different perspectives on a temple’s magnitude. A sprawling complex may cover a vast area but have relatively compact shrines. A soaring tower may contain less floor space than lower structures spread across more land. And interior capacity depends on both a temple’s footprint and vertical reach.
Largest Hindu Temples by Area
Looking at total land area, several Hindu temples rank among the world’s largest religious structures.
Angkor Wat – 400 Acres
Located in Cambodia, Angkor Wat is considered the largest Hindu temple complex and religious monument in the world. This 12th century temple to Vishnu covers approximately 400 acres, about the size of 300 football fields. Its outer enclosure alone stretches over 200 acres. Originally built by King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat combines a vast spatial footprint with soaring towers up to 213 feet high. The colossal temple layout includes a central shrine, galleries, libraries, and extensive bas-relief carvings. Its scale and architectural grandeur make Angkor Wat one of the most iconic Buddhist and Hindu sites globally.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – 156 Acres
The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, India occupies over 156 acres, qualifying as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. Also dedicated to Vishnu, this temple dates back to the 10th century AD. Its inner shrines are contained within seven prakaram (walled enclosures), which are surrounded by 21 gopurams (monumental towers). The temple town around it covers over 700 acres. With seven prakarams totaling over 1.5 miles in length, Sri Ranganathaswamy stands out for its vast size and spatial organization. Major festivals here can draw up to 1 million pilgrims.
Bhadrachalam Temple – 123 Acres
Another contender for largest active Hindu temple is the Bhadrachalam Temple Complex in Telangana, India. Dedicated to Lord Rama, it covers about 123 acres along the Godavari River. Bhadrachalam’s core temple was constructed in the 17th century, but the town and surrounding temples have grown over centuries. In addition to the main shrine, the complex contains shrines to Hanuman, Ganesha, and other deities set among bathing ghats, meditation caves, and greenspace. Bhadrachalam attracts over 10 million annual visitors as a major pilgrimage site.
Akshardham – Largest Hindu Temple by Footprint
In terms of the footprint of its main temple building, Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, India holds the record as the world’s largest Hindu temple. Completed in 2005, this elaborately carved sandstone and marble temple encompasses an area of 86,342 square feet. The central shrine stands 141 feet high and spans 316 feet wide. Akshardham’s design incorporates traditional stone carving, architecture, and artwork from across India. Its massive scale places it in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest comprehensive Hindu temple. Surrounding the main temple is a sprawling complex containing exhibition halls, gardens, and more monuments.
Sri Venkateswara Temple – Most Temple Visits
Located in Andhra Pradesh, India, the Sri Venkateswara Temple receives the most visitors of any Hindu temple, with an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 pilgrims coming per day. That adds up to 30 to 40 million annual visitors, surpassing both Vatican City and Mecca. Also known as Tirumala Tirupati, its main temple sits atop one of the seven peaks of Tirumala hill. Despite covering only 108 acres, the heavily visited Sri Venkateswara Temple has become the wealthiest institution and place of worship in the world. Its high attendance demonstrates how concentrated popularity can match or exceed the visitation rates of even the biggest temples based on raw land area or footprint.
Largest Jain Temples
Jain temples are designed to honor the 24 Jinas or enlightened beings who represent the tenets of the ancient Indian faith of Jainism. Massive Jain complexes can match the scale of the largest Hindu temples.
Palitana Temples – 1,300 Acres
The temple city of Palitana contains over 1,300 individual Jain temples spread over 1,300 acres of Shatrunjaya Hill in Gujarat. Construction began in the 11th century, with active temples continually added over nine centuries. There are around 10,000 shrines and structures making up Palitana’s sacred sites. Reaching the temples involves climbing over 3,800 stone steps. This makes Palitana one of the largest temple complexes by area in both India and the world.
Ranakpur Temple – 60 Acres
Dedicated to Tirthankara Adinatha, Ranakpur Temple in Rajasthan, India is one of the most impressive Jain complexes. Completed in the 15th century, its superb marble construction covers over 60 acres. What stands out most is the main Chaumukha Temple. Its 29 halls and 1,444 pillars covering nearly 40,000 square feet make this one of India’s architectural wonders. Ranakpur exemplifies how temples with smaller footprints can extend over large grounds to achieve tremendous scale.
Largest Active Buddhist Temple – Maha Bodhi, India
Ranking as the largest functioning Buddhist temple is the Maha Bodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya, India. This UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha attained enlightenment around 528 BCE. Built in the 6th century AD, the Maha Bodhi temple’s pyramidal spire rises 180 feet over the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The complex covers over 5.6 acres containing multiple shrines, monasteries, and other structures. As the most sacred spot in Buddhism, Maha Bodhi Temple sees hundreds of thousands of annual visitors. Its main temple has dominated the site for over 1,400 years.
Borobudur – World’s Largest Buddhist Monument
The world’s largest Buddhist monument is Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia. Constructed over three districts and a nearby river around 800 CE, Borobudur measures 1,520 feet long and 1,370 feet wide. This colossal structure was built as a grand stupa and mandala embodying Buddhist cosmology and faith. Its 124 individual stupas and 2,672 relief panels are set along a terraced and stepped pyramid rising 98 feet high. Monks must have required immense skill and devotion to carve 60,000 cubic meters of stone into this spiritual monument without modern machinery. Though not fully a temple, no Buddhist structure equals Borobudur’s sheer immensity and expansive footprint of 123 acres.
Angkor Wat – Largest Religious Monument Ever Built
By several metrics, Angkor Wat stands unrivaled as the largest religious monument on earth. No other temple or place of worship surpasses its 1,000 acres of total area. Constructing its elaborate network of shrines, towers, reservoirs, homes, and infrastructure required a population of over 500,000 workers and 6,000 elephants, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Angkor used up more stone than all of Egypt’s pyramids combined. The hundreds of acres its main temple encloses could contain up to 1 million people at its height. In essence, Angkor Wat expanded the concept of a temple to a city-like scale, unmatched to this day. Its extraordinary size, intricate artistry, and spiritual aura make this masterpiece of Khmer architecture the grandest physical embodiment of religious life ever built.
Largest Temple in the World (Under Construction)
The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, India has been under construction since 2010 and is set to become the largest Hindu temple in the world upon completion. Designed to combine ancient Hindu architecture and modern engineering, it will cover 700 acres and rise 700 feet tall as a imposing and ornate structure dedicated to Lord Krishna. The ambitious temple has encountered delays and challenges, but is projected for inauguration sometime in the late 2020s. Once open, the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium will claim the titles of largest religious building on earth by most measures.
This examination of temple size reveals how scale and magnitude can be assessed in various ways. Land area, building footprint, height, and capacity each provide a perspective on a temple’s impressive dimensions. Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and other faiths have constructed massive complexes filling hundreds of acres. Compact yet vast Angkor Wat exemplifies the all-encompassing religious devotion monumental temples can embody. As the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium nears completion, we may be living in the era that produces the definitively world’s largest temple based on nearly every possible metric. From isolated shrines to sprawling spiritual centers, temples continue to inspire wonder at the immensity of human spiritual endeavor and imagination. Their grandeur pays tribute to the divine through architecture matched only by nature itself.