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Saturday, July 9, 2011

EXTRA: Three Temples in Badachu

Xiangjie ("Incense or Fragrant World") Temple (香界寺) in Badachu (八大处) Park, Beijing (北京), had a
collection of statues in a couple of pavilions outside, including these two Hell Beings (地狱众生).
It's a comfortable downhill walk from Baozhu Cave to Badachu's other temples. I saw three of them, with plenty of rest stops. Yet, in around two hours I was back at the Relic Pagoda near the entrance to the park.

The first stop was Xiangjie ("Fragrant World") Temple. The largest of the eight temples, it was built in 760, during the Tang Dynasty. Although the layout is standard, its attractions include the so-called "Dragon Pine," a pine tree twisted into the shape of a dragon; several fine old steles; and an odd collection of hellish wooden figures, as well as some more pleasant ones, kept under canopies in a courtyard. There are also some clumsily-sculpted concrete grottoes containing garish new gold figures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

On down the hill, past the "Cable Sliding" station, is the quaint Longquan An ("Dragon Spring Nunnery"). Dating to the 1420s, this small temple sells simple snacks in an outdoor dining area above the titular Dragon Spring. Its wooden Wen Chang Hall holds a statue of Guan Yu, guardian of temples, and it has a nice collection of very old statues in a dilapidated hall.

In contrast, the large Dabei ("Great Compassion") Temple was bursting with new construction. There was also a ceremony going on, so I couldn't see much in the main hall, and the central courtyard was packed. Nevertheless, there was a fine collection of eighteen ancient Yuan-Dynasty arhats in a rear hall. Graceful stupas had also been built both inside and just outside the grounds.

I sought out one more temple that day, outside the gates of Badachu Park. Alas, Chang'an Si is closed to the public to maintain a good atmosphere for monastic practice--a good sign, I think.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily March 4, 2013.)

GPS Info (Click to view maps):



GALLERY

Hellish figures at Xiangjie Temple, Badachu Park (postcard above)
Concrete grottoes with golden statues at Xiangjie Temple
Outdoor dining at Longquan Nunnery
Pool at the Dragon Spring, Longquan Nunnery
Construction at side gate of Dabei Temple
Ancient arhat statue at Dabei Temple (postcard below)
Decorated stupa at Dabei Temple
BONUS IMAGES: Images from these temples rendered as vintage postcards:

Inside this gate is the "Dragon Spring" at Longquan (Dragon
Spring) An Nunnery (龙泉庵) in Badachu (八大处) Park, Beijing (北京)
Statue of an old arhat (罗汉) at Dabei Temple (大悲寺) (Temple
of Great Mercy) in Badachu (八大处) Park, Beijing (北京)

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

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