Between AD 700 and 1300, powerful kingdoms, including the Khmer, Pagan, and Sukhothai, emerged in different parts of southeast Asia. They grew rich from growing rice, selling valuable spices, and controlling merchants’ sea routes. Their rulers built great temples.
Rulers organized thousands of workers to build Hindu and Buddhist temples for worship. The Buddhist religion became much more popular, so many more Buddhist temples were built. The temples brought religious merit to rulers, prestige to their kingdoms, and displayed each ruler’s wealth and power.
Buddhist monks and Hindu holy men traveled from India to southeast Asia. They offered advice to kings and led religious rituals. Prayers, offerings, and festivals became an important part of people’s lives.