People know that China is all about temples and I can’t wait to explore some of these beautiful structures. There are Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and Confucian temples. I love exploring these different temples and learning all about them as they are a part of the unique Chinese culture and what makes China so unique. My first temple visit after my move to China was to the old and beautiful Longhua Temple.
Here is what makes this temple and pagoda so unique.
- It’s the oldest Buddhist and biggest temple complex in Shanghai.
Not only is the Longhua Temple the largest temple in Shanghai, but the pagoda is the only one in Shanghai that existed before modern times. It was first built in 242 AD, is the largest and most majestic Buddhist building in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River Delta and is also one of the best reserved temples in Shanghai. I spent the whole morning exploring this beautiful complex.
2. The 7-story pagoda is a Shanghai landmark.
The lovely Longhua Pagoda (977) is not open to visitors due to its age and fragility and can only be admired from a distance. It is a 7-story red brick and wood structure and it looks like a delicate Song-era pagoda. You will see this pagoda featured on countless images depicting temples in China and I could see it from quite a distance as I cycled up towards the temple complex.
3. The pagoda used to be the tallest building in Shanghai until modern times
The seven-storied, 40.4 meters high Longhua Pagoda stands in front of the Longhua Temple. Each storey is smaller than the storey below, and all the levels are encircled by balconies and banisters. Bells on each corner of the octagonal eaves make cheerful and lively sounds as the wind passes by, but it was a windless morning so I did not get to hear the beautiful bells chime. Unfortunately, modern buildings tower over this beautiful structure now.
4. The Room with 500 Golden Statues
Just outside of the main entrance of the third hall, called the Daxiong Baodian, where there is a big golden sitting Budda statue, there is a side hall where you can see 500 little gold statues arranged in rows. They shine and glitter in the light. From the austere courtyard with the smoke of fires and burning incense, the golden and bright statues are a striking contrast.
5. The Grand Hall of the Great Sage (Daxiong Baodian)
The halls in the temple were built strictly according to the traditional Buddhist symmetry that are neat and equitable in layout, magnificent and dignified in architecture. The most impressive hall is the Grand Hall of the Great Sage. In it, there is a big golden statue of Buddha along with several statues of arhats. The Longhua Temple complex is often crowded with devotees bringing incense to the Buddha images, but this early in the morning it was quite deserted. I loved being able to move around this beautiful complex without disturbing worshippers and feeling like I am intruding on them.