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18/12/2013

Pilgrimage to Longxing Temple

Of Zhèngdìng's temple tribe, the most notable is this temple China vacation deals, more popularly known as Dàfó Temple or 'Big Buddha Temple', in the east of town.

The time-worn bridge out front constitutes a handsome historical prelude. Dating way back to AD 586, the temple has been much restored and stands divided from its spirit wall by Zhongshan Donglu. Halls such as the Hall of Sakyamuni's Six Teachers await an entire rebuild from the soles up, but still attract a small gathering of glinting Guanyin statues.

You are greeted in the first hall by the jovial Milefo, chubby enough that temple caretakers have pluralised him – he's now the 'Monks with a Bag'. The four Heavenly Kings flanking him in pairs are disconcertingly vast.
chinatour.com
Beyond is the Manichaean Hall top 10 China tours, an astonishingly voluminous hall flagged in smoothed stone with amazing carpentry overhead, a huge gilded statue of Sakyamuni and delectable Ming frescoes detailing Buddhist tales. At the rear of the hall is a distinctly male statue of the goddess Guanyin, seated in a lithe pose with one foot resting on her/his thigh (a posture known as lalitásana ) and surrounded by luóhàn (those freed from the cycle of rebirth).

The Buddhist Altar behind houses an unusual bronze Ming-dynasty two-faced Buddha, gazing north and south. Signs say 'no touching' but it's evident that its fingers and thumb have been smoothed by legions of worshippers. There are two halls behind the Buddhist Altar. On the left is the Revolving Library Pavilion (Zhuǎn- lúnzàng Gé), which contains a revolving octagonal wooden bookcase for the storing of sutras and a stele on the back of a snarling bìxì (a mythical tortoiselike dragon). Opposite stands the Pavilion of Kindness , containing a 7.4m high statue of Maitreya, one hand aloft.

The blurb introducing the Pavilion popular China tour package of the Imperial Library (Yùshū Lóu) draws your attention to a statue of Guanyin and 18 luóhàn but they are nowhere to be found. The library is connected by a walkway to the immense Pavilion of Great Mercy, where a bronze colossus of Guanyin rises. At 21.3m high, cast in AD 971 and sporting a third eye, the effigy is wonderful, standing on a magnificently carved base from the Northern Song. Examine the carvings which include myriad characters and musicians, including Buddhist angels and a woman blowing a conch. Overhead towers the dusty goddess with a litter of smaller Guanyin statues at her feet: clamber up into the galleries surrounding Guanyin for free, but the third level is often out of bounds. The wooden hall in which the goddess is housed was rebuilt in 1999 with reference to Song-dynasty architecture manuals.

Circumambulated by worshippers, the Hall of Vairocana at the rear contains a four-faced Buddha (the Buddha of four directions), crowned with another four-faced Buddha, upon which is supported a further set. The entire statue and its base contain 1072 statues of Buddha.

tags: travel to China

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