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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

EXTRA: Other Temples in Ningde, Fujian

The bamboo forest (竹林) behind tiny Shuiyun Temple (水云寺) at the
foot of Zhiti Mountain (支提山) in Ningde, Fujian (福建, 宁德市).
After we visited remote Huayan Temple on Zhiti Mountain, my friend Ven. Deru wanted to take me to several other temples in northern Fujian, especially in his town of Fu'an. According to the monk, this town of 600,000 (200,000 in the city center) has over 300 Buddhist temples! Many, however, are no more than a single small hall.

Our first stop was at a small, quiet retreat at the bottom of Zhiti Mountain, still in Ningde proper. Shuiyun ("Water Cloud") Temple is set in the foothills against waves of bamboo forest. Deru's friend (the abbot) wasn't in, so we quickly headed north to Zhongde ("Planting Virtue") Temple, which Ven. Deru says is the largest in Fu'an, and the site of a Buddhist college.

We then visited Qiyun ("Settle Cloud") Temple, where Ven. Deru lives. He said the temple was founded in the Tang Dynasty, more than a thousand years ago. Yet it was only 10 years old. How is this possible? He explained that a monk or a group of devotees must find a founding document, and then obtain proof that a temple had been located in a particular place, through records, archeological evidence, or the testimony of residents. He may then petition the government to rebuild a former foundation. Voila! The lost is found, the old becomes new.

We went on to Fu'an's Tian Ma ("Heaven Horse") Mountain, site of several temples. We saw a most unusual design at Tiantang ("Heaven Hall") Temple, then ended up at Xiangshan ("Fragrant Mountain") Temple, where the nuns cook an excellent dinner. After we drank tea with the delightful young abbess, Ven. Yixiang, Ven. Deru took me to the Fu'an train station, and I returned to Fuzhou, tired and happy.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily September 30, 2013.)

GPS Info: (Click links to view maps)



GALLERY
Tiny Shuiyun Temple in Ningde is set against a sea of bamboo. (postcard above)
Zhongde is the largest temple in Fu'an, and site of a Buddhist college. (postcard below)
Qiyun Temple in Fu'an was founded in the Tang Dynasty, and rebuilt around a decade ago. (postcard below)
Two white horses flank the gate of Tiantang Temple on Fu'an's Tian Ma Mountain
The towers at Tiantang Temple make it look like a church.
The Jade Buddha at Tiantang Temple has an eerie setting. (postcard below)
The "old kitchen" at Xiangshan Temple uses woodstoves, where the nuns cook excellent fare.
BONUS IMAGES: Some of the images above rendered as vintage postcards.

The Main Hall (大雄宝殿) of Zhongde Temple (种德寺), which my friend Venerable Deru
(德如) says is the largest Buddhist temple of the many in Fu'an, Fujian (福建, 福安市).
 The Main Hall (大雄宝殿) at Qiyun Temple (栖云寺), Fu'an, Fujian (福建, 福安市), where my friend Venerable
Deru (德如) lives. He drove me to the temple on Zhiti Mountain (支提山) and to all the temples I saw in Fu'an.
The Jade Buddha (玉佛) in a spectacular setting on the main altar at Tiantang
Temple (天堂寺) on Tianma Mountain (天马山), Fu'an, Fujian (福建, 福安市).
These two good friends are the nun (尼姑) Yixiang (义香), and my friend the monk (和尚) Deru (德如), at
Yixiang's temple called Xiangshan Temple (香山寺) on Tianma Mountain (天马山), Fu'an, Fujian (福建, 福安市).

There are 15 pictures related to these temples (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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