Xiangguo Temple

Xiangguo Temple
Xiangguo Temple
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First constructed in 555 in the Northern Qi (550-557) of Northern and Southern Dynasties, Xiangguo Temple lies in the western section of Ziyou (freedom) Road in Kaifeng City. It's one of the ten famous temples in Chinese history and plays an important role in the development of Buddhism in China.

The temple was rebuilt in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was bestowed the name Xiangguo Temple by Emperor Ruizong. The temple reached its heyday in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It became an international Buddhism center, attracting many foreign envoys and great monks. It contributed a lot to the cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

Coming here, you will be surprised at the magnificent architecture and the well-arranged layout of the Xiangguo Temple. The existing structures were mainly built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The buildings include Mountain Gate, Paifang, Heavenly Kings Hall, Daxiongbaodian Hall (Hall of Sakyamuni), Arhat Hall and Sutra Hall. They are set on the north-south central axis with some other annexes built symmetrically on both sides.

Stepping through the gate, you will first see the Bell Tower and Drum Tower as in most Buddhist temples. The bell hanging here weighs five tons and is 2.23 meters (7.3 feet) tall. Its grazioso sound echoes all over the city, especially in winter. Xiangguo Shuang Zhong (the beautiful sound of the bell on a frosty day) is one of the Eight Scenes of Bianjing (nowadays Kaifeng).
Bell Tower
Bell Tower
Buddha statues
Buddha statues
Inside Heavenly Kings Hall sits Maitreya (also called Future Buddha), a stout Buddha with a broad smile on his face and his breast and paunch exposed to the public. The Heavenly Kings are respectively standing beside Maitreya with sword, lute, blue umbrella and silver snake in their hands which represent feng, tiao, yu, shun (The four Chinese characters used to describe the optimal weather for agriculture). Behind Maitreya is the statue of a general called Wei Tuo, the protective god of Buddhism. As the legend goes, after the Nirvana of Sakyamuni, his relics were stolen by the devils. It was Wei Tuo who battled the devils and recovered the relics. He was then revered as Wei Tuo Buddha and worshiped in most Buddhist temples.

Behind Heavenly Kings Hall is the grandiose Daxiongbaodian Hall (Hall of Sakyamuni), the main hall of the Xiangguo Temple. Three Buddhas are worshiped here. Sakyamuni sits in the middle, Amitabha (Emitofo, guide of the Western Paradise) and Bhaisajyaguru (Yaoshifo, the God of Medicine).

The most remarkable structure in the temple is the Arhat Hall, which is also called Octagonal Glazed Hall. Inside, the towering Octagonal Pavilion houses a wooden statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, which was carved from the bole of a huge gingko tree during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. The four sides of the statue are of the same sculpt. On each side, there are six big hands and three to four layers of small fanlike hands, with an eye on each palm. The number of the hands totals 1,048, and likewise the number of the eyes. The statue highly embodies the fine works of the Qing Dynasty. Don't you think it is amazing?

The magnificent two-storey Sutra Hall where the sutras are kept is the last tall building in the temple. It is to the north of Arhat Hall. Glazed lion ornaments line the ridges to the hall, tied with small bells, chiming beautiful music together with the breeze.

In addition, Xiangguo Temple holds annual activities like lantern exhibitions on the Lantern Festival, chrysanthemum exhibitions and the great prayer festival of water and land. On the occasion, pilgrims from home and abroad will assemble here to celebrate the holidays.
Admission Fee: CNY 30
Opening Hours: 07:00 to 19:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: 40 minutes
Bus Route: 5, 8, 9, 16, 19, 20, 23...

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