The Nanhua Temple is situated 24 kilometers to the south of Shaoguan City proper. It is a 1500-year-old Buddhist monastery dating back to 504 AD during China’s Southern and Northern Dynasties Period.
The following seven sights are the most meaningful structures in the temple.
- The Caoxi Gate
It’s the main entrance to the temple. The two Chinese characters “Caoxi” on the gate structure, meaning “Cao Brook” in English, are the name of the gate, which is named after the small stream in front of the temple.
- The Hall of Heavenly Kings
This hall is the shrine for Mile (Maitreya) Buddha and the Heavenly Kings. The statue in the middle is Mile Buddha or the Laughing Buddha as is often called by the Chinese. According to the Buddhist scripture, he will descend to the earth from Heaven to take over Sakyamuni’s missions when Sakymuni’s Buddhist power is exhausted in the future, and so he is also known as Future Buddha.
- The Sakyamuni Hall
The Sakyamuni Hall is situated in the middle of the temple, with the bell tower to its east and the drum tower to its west. Inside the hall, three Buddhist statues are enshrined. They are 9.31meters tall and are all gilded with gold. The statue in the middle is Sakyamuni, Buddha of the central world and founder of Buddhism. The one on his left is known as the Pharmacist Buddha (called Bhaisajya-guru in Sanskrit), who is the master Buddha of the eastern world and is said to be able to relieve all living creatures from illness. The one on the right hand side of Sakyamuni is Amitabha Buddha, the master Buddha of the western Paradise.
- The Vegetarian Hall
It’s the dining-hall for the monks. The two Chinese Characters over the entrance, meaning Vegetarian Hall, are a facsimile of the handwriting by Su Dongpo, who was a celebrated writer and a calligrapher of the Northern Song Dynasty.
- The scripture House
This building is where Buddhist scripture are kept and is usually closed to visitors. Besides a collection of several thousand copies of Buddhist scripture, some other cultural relics are also preserved in it, such as imperial edicts of past dynasties and over 400 wood-carvings of arhat figures left over by the Northern Song Dynasty.
- The Sixth Patriarch Hall
This hall is the shrine for Hui Neng, the sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism. In 713 AD, Hui Neng felt his death exhausted and thought he was dying soon. On July 1st in the Chinese lunar calendar, he went back to his birthplace in Xinxing County, accompanied u his followers. On August 3rd the same year, he passed away at night while sitting contemplation in the Guo En Temple there. After he died, his body was taken back to the Nanhua Temple and was made into a statue. His real body statue has been enshrined in this temple for over 1300 years and is now sitting here inside the glass cover in the middle of the hall. The other two statues beside him are also “real body” statues. They were Dan Tian and Han Shan, abbots of the Nanhua Temple in the times of the Ming Dynasty.
- The Lingzhao Pagoda
The Buddhist pagoda at the back of the Six Patriarch Hall is called Lingzhao pagoda. The original pagoda was a wooden structure built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was destroyed by fire. The present pagoda, a brick and stone structure, was rebuilt during the Song (960-1279) and is the oldest structure in the temple. Before the Sixth Patriarch Hall was built, Hui Neng’s real-body statue was enshrined here.
After reading the instruction, do you have any interest in visiting it? If so, do not hesitate to come to this famous temple! Surly you will enjoyed yourself a lot during the trip.
d a travel to Shaoguan,