Jianfu Temple

Located  in the northwest corner of Xi'an Museum on West Youyi Road in south Xi'an, Jianfu Temple is a famous Buddhist temple with a long history. Symbolic of the temple is the Small Wild Goose Pagoda which was listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 2014.

Our Tour Group in Jianfu Temple
Our Tour Group in Jianfu Temple

History of Over 1,000 Years

In order to pray for the late Tang Emperor Gaozong, imperial relatives built the temple on the 100th day after his death in the first year (684) of the reign of Tang Emperor Ruizong. It was first named “Xianfu Temple”. Later, in the first year (690) of the reign of the Empress Wu Zetian, the temple got its present name, “Jianfu Temple”.

In the second year (706) of the Shenlong Period under the reign of Emperor Zhongzong in the Tang Dynasty, the temple was transformed into a Translation Institute of Buddhist Scriptures. It attracted numerous eminent monks both from home and abroad to translate here.

Among all the monks, Yi Jing was the most distinguished. He was as famous as Xuanzang who presided over the translation of Buddhist scriptures in the Da Ci'en Temple. Yi Jing translated 108 volumes from 706 to 713, making the Jianfu Temple one of the three biggest translation institutes of Buddhist scriptures in China.

Major Buildings of Jianfu Temple

The Jianfu Temple mainly consists of the gate, the Cishi Pavilion, the Mahavira Hall, the Depository of Buddhist Sutras and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

South Gate of the Temple
South Gate of the Temple
Mahavira Hall
Mahavira Hall

Built in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the gate has a length of 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) and a width of 2.55 meters (8.4 feet). It has a single eave embellished by blue glazed tiles. Moreover, it is decorated by beautiful brick carvings under the eave. On the south of the gate hangs a plaque inscribed with “Imperial Jianfu Temple” while on the north is a plaque engraved with “the True Way”.

The Cishi Pavilion was first constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is a double-eave terrace, 16.4 meters (53.8 feet) in length and 8.2 meters (26.9 feet) in width. Between the two eaves hangs a wooden board with the inscription “Imperial Jianfu Temple”. There are brick stairs on the two sides.

Built in the Qing Dynasty, the Mahavira Hall has a single eave. It has five rooms in the front. It measures 21.2 meters (69.6 feet) in length and 13.3 meters (43.6 feet) in width. The supporting pillars are 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) high, with a diameter of 0.23 meter (0.75 foot).

The Depository of Buddhist Sutras is a two-floor double-eave building, with five bays in length and three bays in width.

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is a multi-eave Buddhist pagoda surviving from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It measures 43.4 meters (142.4 feet) in height. Because both the height and side length of each storey decrease progressively, the pagoda looks like a rectangular pyramid. Inside the pagoda, a narrow stairway winds to the top.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Giant Bell inside the Temple
Giant Bell inside the Temple

Morning Bell of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda

In the Bell Tower of the temple hangs a giant iron bell. Built in the third year (1192) of the reign of Emperor Zhangzong in the Jin Dynasty, the bell weighs 10 tons, with a height of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) and a diameter of 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). It belonged to the Shangge Temple in Wugong County, Shaanxi Province. Later, the Shangge Temple was destroyed in a terrible flood and the bell sank into the bottom of the Weihe River. 

One day during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1723) in the Qing Dynasty, a woman heard the bang of metal when she was washing clothes by the Weihe River. Immediately she reported it to the local government. After excavation, the bell which was lost for more than four hundred years was discovered again and it was given to the Jianfu Temple.

In the Qing Dynasty, monks in the temple clanged the bell every morning to pray for happiness and to express their good feelings.

In 1998, a copy of the bell was made. Tourists can toll it on the steel frame in the open. The original bell is displayed in the Bell Tower.


Ancient Trees

The ancient trees in the Jianfu Temple amount to ten, including nine Chinese scholar trees and one catalpa tree. Five Chinese scholar trees are on the two sides of the axis before the Mahavira Hall and the other four stand in the yard to the south of the Cishi Pavilion. The oldest one is called “the Dragon Scholar Tree”. Being about 1,200 years old, the tree measures 2.7 meters (7.5 feet) in girth and 9.2 meters (30.2 feet) in height. The catalpa tree is to the north of the Cishi Pavilion. With a girth of 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) and a height of 15.3 meters (50.2 feet ), this tree is about 800 years old. Tourists can relax in the shade of these ancient trees.

Traditional Temple Fair

The temple fair is usually held from the 1st to the 15th of the first lunar month. People often go to the temple fair to pray for happiness during the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). At the same time, there are large-scale lantern shows, delicate food, and all kinds of wonderful performances, including the lion dance, the Shaanxi opera, and stilt walking.

How to Get to Jianfu Temple

 By Bus:
1. Take bus No. 18, 21, 29, 32, 40, 46, 203, 204, 218, 224, 229, 258, 407, 410, 508, 521, 618, 700, 707, 713, Tourist Line 7 or Tourist Line 8 (610), get off at Xiaoyanta (Small Wild Goose Pagoda) Station and get to the temple through North Gate.
2. Take bus No. 18, 203, 204, 218, 229, 258, 407, 410, 713 or Tourist Line 7 and get off at the Xiajiazhuang Station. Walk north for around 4 minutes and get to the temple through West Gate near the Xi'an Museum.

 By Metro:
Take Metro Line 2, get off at Nanshaomen Station, and leave from Exit A1 or A2. Walk west for about 6 minutes and get to Jianfu Temple through North Gate.
Xi'an Bus/ Metro Search

 Ticket Price The temple: Free of charge on ordinary days; CNY 20 to 25 during the temple fair from 1st to 15th of the first lunar month.
Ascending the Small Wild Goose Pagoda: CNY 30
Opening Hours March 15-October 31: 09:00-18:00 (Ticket selling stops at 17:00)
November 1-March 14: 09:00-17:30 (Ticket selling stops at 16:30)
Close: Every Tuesday (except Chinese national holidays)
* During the temple fair, the temple allows entry until 21:00 and is emptied at 22:00, while the Small Wild Goose Pagoda closes at 16:30 as usual.
- Last updated on Apr. 13, 2021 -
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