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Friday, June 15, 2012

No. 90: Shuangguitang Temple, Liangping County, Chongqing

The main gate of Shuangguitang Temple (双桂堂) in rural Liangping County,
Chongqing (重庆, 梁平县), a refreshing break from the congested city.
The first two temples I saw in Chongqing were near the city's center; the third was not. It lay in far-flung Liangping County, over 180 kilometers out of town. It was a long day--about two-and-a-half hours each way on the highway bus to the county town, then some local transport to and from the temple.

But it paid off. The temple was huge, beautiful, and nearly deserted. The name, Shuanggui Tang, means "Twin Osmanthus Hall." Osmanthus is a kind of tree with a sweet-smelling flower. The temple's founding legend says that Poshan, a monk at Tiantong Temple in Ningbo, was given two trees by his master, Miyun. He was instructed to travel to Sichuan (of which Chongqing was then a part), and wherever the trees took root, he was to "plant" a temple.

And so, in 1661, while he was meditating at what is now Liangping, the trees miraculously took root, and there Poshan stayed. His pagoda is in the temple grounds to this day, flanked (they say) by the two original osmanthus trees. This temple also became the launching point for two of Chengdu's major temples, Zhaojue and Wenshu Temples.

Most of the current temple dates to the 19th century. Approaching the main gate (not that from the parking lot) there is a huge plaza for days when crowds attend the temple. Fortunately when I was there, there were none. There are free-life ponds inside the front gate, where devotees can release fish; and there's a shiny new 500 Arhat Hall near the back.

It was not easy to get to, but I'm grateful that this quiet country place was on my itinerary.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily March 3, 2014.)

GPS Info:
  • 30.60503, 107.70525



Map:


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GALLERY

The main gate of Shuanggui Tang Temple outside of Chongqing (postcard above)
Ponds inside the temple
Creatures in front of the main hall
The pagoda of founder Poshan, with trees on either side
Arhats and snake in the 500 Arhats' Hall

There are 18 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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