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Thursday, August 20, 2009

No. 3: Huiji Temple, Putuoshan, Zhejiang

The entry to Huiji Temple (慧济寺) on Putuoshan in Zhejiang (浙江, 普陀山).
When I left the area of the Nanhai Guanyin, I walked up to the parking lot in front of Puji Temple, which is a hub for the island's shuttle buses. (One nice thing about Putuo Shan: there are no private vehicles or taxis, only work-related vehicles and shuttle buses.) I boarded one that would take me to the north end of the island and the cable car for Huiji Temple.

As I got off the bus, I noticed that a large temple was being built--probably finished by now--across the way, on the north side of the road.

I then took the cable car to the top of Foding (Buddha Peak) Hill, one of the island's highest points. Huiji Temple, Putuo Shan's third-largest, was built here first as a pagoda. In 1793 it was expanded into a larger complex, not unlike the one we see today.

One of the peculiarities of this temple is the series of corridors with 90-degree turns leading into it. It almost feels like some kind of defensive work.

Perhaps translated "The Temple of Aiding Wisdom," Huiji Temple is today the only temple on the island that has the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, as its main figure. The rest have Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion, on the main altar.

Leaving Huiji Temple, I walked the 1,000 steps down "Xiangyun (Fragrant Cloud) Road," past numerous rocks with carved inscriptions, and past the Xiangyun Pavilion where friendly monks often hang out to chat with visitors.

I turned into the back gate of Fayu Temple, where several people tried to turn me back. Later I discovered why: there's a fee to be paid at the front gate! After a quick walk-through, I paid the fee, and took a bus back to the Puji Temple area. I would return to Fayu for a closer look the next afternoon, my final day on Putuo Shan.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily December 26, 2011.)

GPS Info:
  • 30.01521, 122.39323



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GALLERY

A large temple being built north of Foding Hill, as seen from the cable car
The entry to Huiji Temple is a walled alley, like a maze (see postcard version above)
The main hall of Huiji Temple, with the hill's peak behind
A small, elegant courtyard in Huiji Temple
Part of the Xiangyun ("Fragrant Cloud") pilgrim's road leading up to Huiji Temple (but I went down)
Spectacular view of Putuo Shan from the Xiangyun Road
The Xiangyun Road features numerous carved rock inscriptions (see postcard version below)
A friendly monk waits to greet visitors in the gateway of Xiangyun Pavilion
BONUS IMAGE: The carved rock inscriptions above, rendered as a vintage postcard.

An important carving on the Fragrant Cloud Path (香云路) from Huiji
Temple (慧济寺) to Fayu Temple (法雨寺) on Putuoshan in Zhejiang (浙江,
普陀山). It depicts the expression "Buddhist Paradise" (海天佛国), carved
by a Ming Dynasty general, and lends the island its common nickname.

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