Northern Buddhist Temple

Northern Buddhist Temple covers an area of 28,000 square meters (about 6.9 acres) and it leans against Northern Mountain (also called Tulou Mountain) in a northern suburb of Xining City, hence the name. Featuring Buddhist architecture and Taoist architecture styles it is renowned by its name 'A Bright Pearl on the Southern Path of the Silk Road.

The Northern Buddhist Temple was constructed in Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and it is the earliest example of religious architecture in Qinghai Province. It was built based on a natural faultage on the mountainside according to Danxia Landscape featuring stone alternating between softness and hardness. Looking up you can see the crag and looking down you can see the cleft. Only the temple hangs in the middle, hence its other name Xuankong Temple (Hanging Temple). It is the second largest Xuankong Temple in China.

Nine Grottos & Eighteen Cavities

There are a total of 99 caverns with four layers including a single cave and cave groups inside Northern Buddhist Temple arraying from west to east. Residents call them the 'nine grottos and eighteen cavities'. They are connected by a plank road, which is built along a cliff, a small bridge, and a wandering corridor. Inside the caverns we can see frescos and sculptures carved on the wall. It is recorded that when Buddhism prevailed at the time, people were made to paint Zaojing design (a kind of decoration in the coping of the cavern) and the artistic frescos of Buddhism. These lifelike pictures comprise the contents of historical legend, fable, Buddhist ceremony and the chief of Buddhism. Inside some of the cave groups there are precious Tibetan Buddhism frescos. The Northern Buddhist Temple is reputed as 'Xiping (the former Xining) Mogao Caves' and ranked as a National Key Protection Unit of Historical Relics.

Buddha Figure

In the middle part of Northern Mountain were two huge figures of Buddha called 'Lutian Jingang' (Dorje in the open air). One has already collapsed but the other is still well preserved. The remaining one is more than 30 meters (about 98 feet) high and from afar we can clearly see his head, body, legs and facial features. This figure of Buddha was carved by many of his believers based on the original sculpt and form, and to some degree it reflects the artistic style of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).

Ningshou Pagoda

At the top of Northern Mountain stands a pagoda called Ningshou Pagoda, which is solid inside and is built of dark green brick. It has a hexagonal surface, five layers and turned up angles. When rainy days come, standing at Ningshou Pagoda you can see temples, groups of caverns and pagodas appear and hide alternately in the cloud and mist bringing us a sense of poetic and artistic imagery. This is an indistinct and boundless landscape renowned for its name 'Misty Rain of Northern Mountain' which belongs to one of Top Eight Scenic Spots in Xining City.

Lingguan Hall

At the foot of Northern Mountain is a temple called 'Lingguan Hall' which was once ruined by war and rebuilt in 1915. There is Mountain Gate, Wing-Rooms at both sides, a Horizontal Plaque on which the character 'Lingguan Hall' is written hanging in the center of the hall. It is said that two apprentices of a renowned Buddhist were buried at the west foot of the mountain which local residents called 'Buddhist Tomb'.

Activities during Chongyang Festival

Since the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) whenever the Chongyang Festival (Double Ninth Festival) came, the civilians in succession went up the Northern Mountain to scatter paper on which was imprinted the Chinese character of '鹿' (deer) and '马' (horse) to worship the Buddha to imprecate safety and luck. Especially in recent years a great number of people gather together in Northern Buddhist Temple, which is decorated with lanterns and streamers in the evening of Chongyang Festival.

In previous times, Northern Buddhist Temple was only a Buddhist temple but later when Taoism was prevailing, it evolved into a Taoist temple. Every year there are swarms of Chinese from overseas who gather here to join in the ceremonious pilgrimage and pay a visit.

How to get to Northern Buddhist Temple

1. Take Sightseeing Bus to Beichansi (Northern Buddhist Temple).
2. Take Bus 10, 11, 19, 21, 66, 84, or 107 to Sitaizi, and then walk north for 3 minutes to the temple.

Entrance Fee Free
Opening Hours 8:00 - 18:00
Best Time to Visit May - Sep.

- Last modified on Aug. 08, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Northern Buddhist Temple
Asked by Yap Kim Kooi from MALAYSIA | Nov. 02, 2014 04:24Reply
Northern Buddhist Temple, Xining
Can I get there with the public bus from Nanxiaojie road? Thank you
Answers (2)
Answered by Diana from USA | Nov. 02, 2014 19:27

Walk from where you are to Beixiaojie Kou station to take bus no. 10 and get off at Beishan Market. Then you can easily walk to the temple. Actually, there is around 2.7mi between, so you can aslo take a taxi to reach exactly.
Answered by Malcolm from U.K. | Nov. 14, 2017 03:43

North mountain temple is reached by walking north from the bottom of Changjiang lu. Bus 66 wil take you there. Walk under the railway,turn left through the area of builders merchants, turn right towards a black marble Christian church with two spires and you will see the temple. At present some of the lower temples are open but the main staircase to the higher temples and caves is closed for renovation. However if you walk along the canal to the west you will see a bridge, some new buildings and a staircase that takes you right to the top. The first part is hard going but it eases of higher up with interesting look-out points. Good luck.
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