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Monday, September 12, 2011

No. 65: Dafo Temple, Xinchang, Zhejiang

Great Buddha (大佛) at Dafo Temple (大佛寺), Xinchang County, Zhejiang (浙江, 新昌县)
My next trip was to several temples in Zhejiang. It was the first (and so far only) time that I traveled with anyone besides my wife. My companion on this trip was an Indian friend I'll call "Mr. Deep."

From Ningbo, we took a bus to rural Xinchang County and Dafo (Great Buddha) Temple. The temple itself is located in the Great Buddha Scenic Area, comprised of over 25 square kilometers of mountain scenery, grottoes, and historic architecture.

Unfortunately, we only had time to see the buildings around the magnificent Great Buddha himself, carved in the native rock by a succession of three monks beginning in 486 C.E. The work took approximately 30 years.

Monk Senghu began the work, having had a vision of the Buddha's halo shining from the cliff face. He was able to finish only the Buddha's head. The work was taken up by Sengshu, who also failed to finish. Finally, Sengyou came and finished the carving in 516. A three-storied pavilion was built in front of the figure in 845, and was converted to a five-story pavilion sometime later.

The finished seated Buddha is over 15 meters high, and it is said to be the largest carved Buddha south of the Yangtze River Delta. Reportedly, 10 people can stand in the upturned palm of his hand! The image portrays Maitreya Bodhisattva--the next Buddha-to-come--in his original form; he is now more commonly portrayed as "The Laughing Buddha."

After seeing what we could, Mr. Deep and I went down the mountain, staying in the small town of Xinchang before pushing on to spectacular Mt. Tiantai.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily July 22, 2013.)

GPS Info:
  • 29.49381, 120.89968



Map:

(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!)



GALLERY

Grand gateway to the Great Buddha Scenic Area, Xinchang
Gateway to the Dafo Chan Temple
Hall housing the Great Buddha
The Great Buddha of Xinchang, carved in native rock (similar postcard above)

There are 20 pictures related to this temple (some of them identical to these, but with different captions) in a FaceBook album starting here (available to all, even without a FaceBook account).

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

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