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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

EXTRA: Hualin Temple, Guangzhou, Guangdong

The title board says "One Flower, Five Petals" (一花五叶); Bodhidharma (达摩)
is the "One Flower," and the five Chan (禅) patriarchs (祖) who followed
him are the "petals"; at Hualin Temple (华林寺), Guangzhou, Guangdong (广东,
广州市), where Bodhidharma stayed upon his arrival from India (天竺).
As many as 600,000 visitors a day throng Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, a one-kilometer stretch of shops and restaurants in Guangzhou. But few of them stop to contemplate the small marker on the southern traffic circle on Kangwang South Road, which reads "Xi Lai Gu An" or "Come-from-the-West Ancient Landing Place."

This marks the site at which history says the great Indian monk Bodhidharma stepped off a boat in the Pearl River (now 650 meters south) and touched down on Chinese soil.

Even fewer of these shoppers will know that five minutes north of that site is Hualin Temple, which claims to have been founded in 526 and proudly boasts "Bodhidharma slept here."

Small as it is, the temple has much to see. The main hall has a huge statue of Bodhidharma on the main altar, with a sign saying "One Flower, Five Petals," referring to the fact that Bodhidharma (the "one flower") was succeeded by five Chan patriarchs.

An ancient stone pagoda wandered around Guangzhou a bit after the front end of the temple was sold off for housing in 1924; it has now come to rest in the temple's cramped courtyard.

Next to the pagoda is the 500 Arhat Hall, a nice enough place made more interesting by a statue purported to be Marco Polo--an Italian arhat!

Outside the gate is the Hualin Jade Market, occupying what was formerly another temple, Changshou Si. No trace of it remains except in the name of the street running along the north side of the area. Yet it was once one of the "Five Great Temples of Guangzhou," which I'll tell you more about soon.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily December 17, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 23.11624, 113.24573



Map:




GALLERY

Bodhidharma is seated on the main altar at Hualin Temple, Guangzhou
(similar to postcard above)
A stone pagoda stands in the temple's courtyard
A closer view of the elegant, small stone pagoda
Marco Polo (in the flat hat) sits next to Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva
This marker on Shangxiajiu Street, Guangzhou,
marks Bodhidharma's landing place in China.

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

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