Zhaojue Temple

Located next to Chengdu Zoo in the northern suburb of the city, Zhaojue Temple is one of the most famous temples in Chengdu. It was renowned as 'The First Buddhist Monastery in West Sichuan'. Zhaojue Temple was first built in early Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was ruined in a war in 1644, and was rebuilt in 1663.

Zhaojue Temple has played a significant role in the history of Chinese Buddhism and made great contributions to the cultural exchange between China and other countries. The masterpieces written by the Zen Master Yuanwu have been listed as Buddhist classics in Japan. Even today, Zhaojue Temple is seen as the cradle of Buddhist temples in Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

The structural layout of Zhaojue Temple is very clear. The axis consists of the gate, the Octagonal Pavilion, the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall, and the Depository of Buddhist Sutra. On the two sides of the axis are the Guanyin Pavilion, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, and the Tower of Zen Master Yuanwu.

On the gate hangs a plaque which reads 'The First Buddhist Temple'. Walking along the broad avenue, people can see the Octagonal Pavilion. Behind it stands the Hall of Heavenly Kings, in which the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future), and the four great Heavenly Kings are consecrated. Besides, the stone bridge in front of the hall is a precious historical relic.

Behind the Hall of Heavenly Kings is the Mahavira Hall. Entering the hall, tourists can see three white marble Buddhas. The Buddha in the middle symbolizes absolute truth. The one on the left represents wisdom, while the one on the right signifies benevolence. On the both sides of the Buddhas are the statues of the eighteen arhats showing different facial expressions.

Some Buddhist sutras with inestimable historic significance and cultural values are stored in the Depository of Buddhist Sutra. But it is regrettable that it is not open to the public at present.


Legend has it that Master Poshan (1597-1666) was the founder of the Shuanggui sect of Buddhism. After he renovated Zhaojue Temple, he cultured and embraced many disciples, and carried the sect forward. One day, he told his disciples that he would travel around to spread his doctrines. He also said that they should elect another Buddhist abbot to govern the temple and to carry forward the Shuanggui sect of Buddhism if a pillar in the temple left the stone pedestal, the ladle on the burner table disappeared, and the two trees wrapped up the tablet but he still did not come back. With these words, Master Poshan left the temple.

Three years later, a wooden pillar in Zhaojue Temple left the pedestal. Another three years later, the ladle on the burner table in the Mahavira Hall disappeared. Another three years later, the two trees outside a hall grew up and wrapped up the stone tablet between. But, Master Poshan had not come back. Hence, another monk was elected to be the abbot. Till today, visitors can trace the relics told in the legend. There is indeed a pillar that is about one foot above the stone pedestal in the Mahavira Hall. In front of the Mahavira Hall stands the 1,000-year-old tree which wraps a stone tablet in it.

How to Get to Zhaojue Temple

1. Take bus 9, 18, 32, 64, 87, 145, 146, 402 or 650 and get off at Dongwuyuan (Chengdu Zoo), and the temple is on the north of the zoo.
2. Take Metro Line 3 and get off at Chengdu Zoo. Then walk to the temple within 5 minutes.
Chengdu Bus / Metro Search
Entrance Fee free
Opening Hours 8:00-17:00
Stop entering at 16:30

Recommended Nearby Attraction

Chengdu Zoo
- Last updated on Sep. 19, 2023 by Gabby Li -
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