Travel Guide - Shanhua Temple

Posted by ugfanfan on November 10th, 2014

Shanhua Temple is also called South Temple since it is located inside the southern gate of Datong City, Shanxi province. The temple was originally built during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), but it was burnt to the ground in a war at the end of the Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125). In 1128, more than 80 halls and pavilions were rebuilt. Further restorations were done during the Ming Dynasty. All of the main buildings face north to south and were built with careful attention to keeping symmetry making the temple a good representative of traditional Chinese architecture.

The temple occupies an area of over 15,000 square meters (3.7 acres). The main structures include the Gate, the Three-Sage Hall and the Great Hall (In Chinese "Da Xiong Bao Dian"). The Great Hall is the most important building of every Buddhist temple. Besides these buildings, the temple is home to the Wenshu Pavilion (deserted) and the Puxian (Samantabhadra) Pavilion. The two pavilions are symmetrical, built like true twin towers, and represent the style of Tang architecture. In addition to the historic complex itself the temple grounds are also naturally beautiful and filled with pines and cypresses.

The Gate is called God of Heaven Hall. In traditional fashion, it is guarded by a pair of fierce stone lions. Two rooms inside the gate hold statues of the Four Heavenly Guardians. These appear both majestic and furious. This gate is special at it is the largest remaining from the Jin Dynasty.

The Three-Sage Hall is so named for the three statues of China's most famous and revered sages inside it: Vairochana Buddha, Manjusri Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.

On the altar in the middle of the Great Hall there are 5 Buddha statues sitting on lotus thrones. The Buddha statues, made of earth and gold-plated, are 4.05 meters (13 ft.) high. The Buddhas are well dressed and dignified, regally staring back at their viewers. The Hall also features 24 statues of heavenly gods, each over 3 meters (9.6 ft.) high and with varying expressions. Frescoes of Buddhist legends have been carved into the Hall's walls. These frescoes were made by experts whose smooth strokes bring out an almost lifelike quality

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