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Friday, October 15, 2010

No. 40: Jingye Temple, Xi'an, Shaanxi

Fragment of a panel featuring a Buddha (佛), now on the small altar (坛) in
the Guest Hall (客堂) at Jingye Temple (净业寺), Xi'an, Shaanxi (陕西, 西安市).
The next day I visited Jingye Temple, one of the most remote temples I had seen. After a long bus ride, I got out at a road intersection where a "black taxi" took me up the narrow river valley for a reasonable price, the driver assuring me that the temple was at the bottom of the mountain.

When I got out, I discovered that the gate was at the bottom, but the temple itself was a long climb. Furthermore, recent storms had washed out part of the trail; there were places where there were no steps and I had to scramble up sandy slopes. I also had to detour around makeshift equipment used by workers to haul sand and paving stones up the mountain.

Nevertheless, after nearly an hour's climb, I reached the first hall, where another visitor kindly offered me some fruit.

Jingye Temple features fantastic views, and a quaint, cozy compound of wood-sided halls in faded colors. It also boasts a remarkably long and illustrious history. Built in the Sui Dynasty (589–618 CE), it flourished under the abbotship of the great scholar of the Discipline Sect, Master Daoxuan.

Daoxuan died at Jingye Temple, and a lonely pagoda stands on the mountain above. Unfortunately, a friendly monk (fascinated to meet a foreigner in so remote a place) told me that the trail was completely washed out, and would have required some cliff-climbing, so sadly I turned away.

Jingye is one of the more accessible of numerous temples and hermitages that dot the area known as Nanshan. There are hiking trails all over the area, well worth a day or two for the interested visitor.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily October 29, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 34.02581, 108.82223



Map:


(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!
See the Mountain Gate to the southwest.)



GALLERY

Looking down on the mountain gate of Jingye Temple, where no trail survived the storms.
Construction supplies waiting to be used along the trail
The faded Heavenly Kings' Hall, the first one encountered at the top of the trail
A view of the magnificent Nanshan Mountain range from the temple

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