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Temples were primarily built as places of worship for gods and goddesses. All ancient civilizations, namely the Greek, ancient Roman, Egyptian, and the Indo-Aryan set up temples devoted to different deities. However, in most places temples in addition to being religious places started to exert significant cultural and political influences on their ages. In the ancient world, they were important sites for social interaction and pubic gatherings as well — a tradition that persists well into the present time as well.

In India and Nepal, most temples are regularly thronged by devotees throughout the year. Many of the temples in India are of extreme cultural importance in addition to being places of worship. Meenakshi Temple in Madurai near Chennai dedicated to Lord Shiva has an impressive structure surrounded by four intricately sculptured majestic gateways at the four cardinal directions. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh is famous for its vibrant depiction of creation of life on earth. The Dilwara Temple in Mount Abu in Rajasthan is essentially a Jain temple. Its columns with elaborate carvings are unbelievable. The Golden Temple in Amritsar in honor of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, is resplendent with its golden top and surrounding water pool.

In Nepal, the Pashupatinath temple in the shape of a pagoda and roofs of gold and copper, and four doors covered with silver. It is the oldest of all temples in Nepal. The Muktinath temple is sacred for both Hindu and Buddhists. Perhaps the largest of all temples is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This temple mountain representing Cambodian architecture is dedicated to Hindu as well as Buddhist gods.

Europe has the remains of some of the ancient temples. In Greece, the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Athena, the Temple of Apollo, and the Temple of Poseidon are well known. In Rome, the temples of Capitoline Hill, temple of Minerva Medica, and Temples of Janus are significant.




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