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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No. 23: Guangji Temple, Wuhu, Anhui

There are 24 Devas (天王) in an upper hall at Guangji Temple (广济寺) in Wuhu, Anhui (安徽, 芜湖市); these
are three of them. The temple focuses on Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva (地藏菩萨), whose hall is nearby.
In July of 2010, a few days after my 55th birthday, I started my fifth temple journey, following the Yangzi River through Jiangsu.

But first I would have to swing west into Anhui to see three temples, the first of which was Guangji Temple in Wuhu (which always makes me want to shout "WOOHOO!")

As I made my way over timbers on the ground, past piles of wood scraps, and into unfinished halls, I reflected on how temples under construction used to upset me, as I was not seeing a "perfect" site. Nowadays, I realize that (1) what I'm viewing is a part of history, and (2) it's all part of the Buddhist lesson of impermanence.

Guangji Temple has an interesting distinction. In the year 719, a prince from what is now South Korea stopped there for three years. When he moved on, he initiated rites dedicated to Dizang, the Bodhisattva who saves all beings from hell, at Jiuhua Shan (where, coincidentally, I will be the week this article is published).

Because of the Korean prince's presence here, Guangji is known as "a little Jiuhua."

As you would expect, there is a strong presence of Dizang here. The beautiful Zhenshan Tower at the back of the property (and behind the Dizang Hall) holds a figure of Dizang, rather than the more common Buddha. Also on the grounds are images of Ox-Head and Horse-Face, fierce guardians from Chinese tradition who have been absorbed unto Buddhism. They are the ones who greet souls arriving in hell.

After lunch in the dining hall offered by a kind monk, I jumped back on the train to Hefei and my next destination.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily June 18, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 31.33718, 118.37761



Map:




GALLERY

A work area in front of Guangji Temple; note the Zhenshan Tower at the back
A workman applies his touch to a new hall at the temple
Beautiful wooden Buddhas in Guangji Temple's main hall
Zhenshan Tower is behind the Dizang Hall
The tower contains a statue of Dizang

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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