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Monday, October 24, 2011

No. 73: Xichan Temple, Fuzhou, Fujian

A statue of Vairocana Buddha (毗卢遮那佛) at Xichan Temple (西禅寺), Fuzhou, Fujian (福建, 福州市).
It was nearly 4 p.m. when I reached Xichan ("Western Zen") Temple, but although the halls would close around 6, the grounds would stay open until 7:30!

The temple was first built by Da'an, a monk from Fujian Province, in the Tang Dynasty, around 867; but most of the buildings seen today are very modern. It has strong ties to several temples in other countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

The most-touted sight at the temple is its pagoda, built in 1990. Compared to some I had seen before--and to the many other wonderful sights at Xichan--it was not that impressive, even though it was tall.

There were numerous ceremonies being conducted that day, which made it hard to get into some of the halls. For example, I had to sneak behind curtains to see some of their magnificent 24 Devas, a fine assemblage of life-sized figures.

Easier to enter, at the back of the grounds, were halls containing the Vairocana (Great Sun) Buddha and his companions; a large bronze Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion; and perhaps the best modern collection of the 500 Arhats I've seen. The spacious hall in which they were located allowed each statue to stand out on its own, instead of being crammed together as they are at most other temples.

Also on the grounds were a litchi tree known to be planted over a thousand years ago; two jade buddhas housed in a beautiful Burmese-style hall; and the large "free-life" pond (for releasing captive animals) near the front gate.

As darkness fell, I reluctantly left the gate and caught a bus back to my hotel.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily September 16, 2013.)

GPS Info:
  • 26.07092, 119.27795



Map:




GALLERY

The large "free-life" pond near the front of Xichan Temple, Fuzhou
A Deva peeks out from behind a curtain in one of the halls
A large statue of Vairocana, the "Great Sun Buddha," flanked by attendants (postcard above)
The spacious Hall of 500 Arhats is the largest I've seen
This Burmese-style hall holds two jade Buddhas

There are 16 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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