Hindu Temples in Cambodia and Outside South Asia
Angkor Wat (Khmer) is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. The temple was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura (Khmer, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
Many members of the South Asian diaspora have established Hindu mandirs outside India as a means of preserving and celebrating cultural and spiritual heritage abroad. Describing the hundreds of mandirs that can be found throughout the United States, scholar Gail M. Harley observes, “The temples serve as central locations where Hindus can come together to worship during holy festivals and socialize with other Hindus. Temples in America reflect the colorful kaleidoscopic aspects contained in Hinduism while unifying people who are disbursed throughout the American landscape.”
Numerous mandirs in North America and Europe have gained particular prominence and acclaim. The Shiva-Vishnu Temple at Livermore in San Francisco Bay Area, for example, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year for a variety of cultural and religious events. The B.A.P.S. organization has built over sixty mandirs in North America, as well as numerous temples in Europe. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London, for example, has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest traditional Hindu temple outside India, and has been constructed according to Vedic architectural standards. The temples constructed in this traditional style of temple architecture are known as Shikharbaddha Mandirs.
Another example of a Swaminarayan Shikharbaddha Mandir is the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto, which is the largest Hindu temple in Canada. The Radha Madhav Dham temple, established by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, is one of the largest Hindu Temple complexes in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest in North America.
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