Buddhist places of worship in Britain and elsewhere

Buddhist places of worship in Britain and elsewhere

Buddhist Temples and Monasteries

  • Temples and monasteries serve as the main places of worship for Buddhists.
  • These traditionally house statues of Buddha and other significant figures in Buddhism, where Buddhists can show reverence.
  • Not all Buddhists go to a temple or monastery regularly; home worship can be quite common, with dedicated spaces featuring Buddha images and iconography.
  • Many older temples and monasteries are located in Asia, specifically in countries like Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, and China. In recent years, such places of worship have been established globally, including in Britain.


  • Viharas are dwellings for Buddhist monks and nuns. They consist of small, individual cells and a larger communal area for meditation and teaching.
  • Often, viharas are part of a larger complex which includes a temple or monastery.
  • In Britain, notable viharas include the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire and the Cittaviveka (Chithurst) Buddhist Monastery in West Sussex.


  • Stupas are structures containing relics, thought to inspire individuals on the path to awakening.
  • Traditional stupas are dome-shaped, but can have variations such as the spire-like structures in Thailand or the tiered designs in China.


  • Similar to stupas, pagodas are tiered towers with multiple eaves, built to offer a space of quiet reflexion as well as to house relics and sacred writings.
  • Pagodas are more commonly found in East Asia and are a common sight in countries like China and Japan.

Buddhist Centers in Britain

  • Buddhist centres often provide a variety of functions, including acting as a place of worship, offering meditation classes, and operating as community hubs.
  • Examples of these in Britain include the London Buddhist Centre and the Manchester Buddhist Centre.
  • Such centres often contain a shrine room (sometimes called a Gompa) where rituals and meditation are practised.

Retreat Centres

  • Retreat centres offer opportunities for longer-term stays for intensive meditation and study.
  • These are often located in rural settings to offer tranquillity and separation from the distractions of modern life.
  • In the UK, well-known retreat centres include the Rivendell Retreat Centre in East Sussex and the Dhanakosa Buddhist Retreat Centre in Scotland.