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Saturday, March 12, 2011

EXTRA: Dafo Temple, Guangzhou, Guangdong

These three Buddhas (佛) at Dafo (Big Buddha) Temple (大佛寺),
Guangzhou, Guangdong (广东,广州市) aren't really so big after all.
Sometimes researching Chinese temples can be a bit confusing. Because I lack Chinese language skills, I always start with English sites, then go to Chinese with the help of a translation program.

So it took me quite a while to solve a mystery: I had seen references to the "Five Great Temples of Guangzhou." Then I found references to only four. And then five again.

Puzzled? I was. Here's the solution: As nearly as I can tell, there were in fact Five Great Temples until the end of the 19th century: Liurong Si, Guangxiao Si, Hualin Si, Haizhuang Si, and Changshou Si. Then, in 1905, the last of these was razed; as I've mentioned before, the Hualin Jade Market now stands on the site, and all that remains of the former temple is the name "Changshou Street."

So there were only four. Then at some point--perhaps as recently as the '90s--another temple was named to round out the five. That temple is the ancient but newly-rebuilt Dafo (Great Buddha) Temple.

When I last visited the site, there was a lot of construction going on. It's a short walk from Liurong Si, which in turn is near Guangxiao Si, so the three can easily be visited in a day.

The main attraction is the main hall, the only surviving building from the old days. Its three large Buddha statues, however, are only a few decades old. Other nice features in the hall are the paintings-on-tile of the Eighteen Arhats.

The rest of the temple is composed of small halls. A weekend visit reveals a very active temple life in the heart of old Guangzhou.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily January 7, 2013.)

GPS Info:
  • 23.121678,113.268064



Map:




GALLERY

The large, ancient main hall at Dafo Temple, Guangzhou
The three colossal but relatively-new Buddhas at the temple (similar to postcard above)
Images of arhats painted on tile in the main hall

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

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