Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou
Kaiyuan Temple lies on West Street in Licheng District, covering an area of 78 thousand square meters. Built in the second year of Chuigong during the reign of Emperor Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty , Kaiyuan Temple now has a long history of over 1,300 years.
English Name: Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou
Chinese Name: 泉州开元寺
Opening Hours: 7:30-17:30
Ticket Price: Free
Best Time: All year round
Recommended Visiting Hours: 1 or 2 hours
Address: No.176, West Street, Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China
Located in West Street of Quanzhou, Kaiyuan Templewas Hindu-Buddhist temple constructed in the second year of the Chuigong reign of the Tang Dynasty, with a history of more than 1,300 years. Kaiyuan Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Fujian province with an area of 78,000 square meters (840,000 square feet) and also one of the very few surviving Hindu temple in mainland China. It was originally named Lotus Temple, Xingjiao Temple or Longxing Temple, and the present name was adopted in the 26th year of the Kaiyuan Reign (738 AD) of the Tang Dynasty.
Introduction of Kaiyuan Temple
It was originally built in 685 or 686 during the Tang dynasty (618–907). The temple situated in the Mulberry garden of landlord Huang Shougong (黄守恭) who was said to dream of a monk begging land from him for building a temple. He donated his garden and changed it into a temple with the name of “Lotus Temple” (莲花寺). In 738 in the Tang dynasty, it was renamed “Kaiyuan Temple”, which is still in use now.
Behind its main hall “Mahavira Hall”, there are some columns with fragments from a Shiva temple built in 1283 by the Tamil Ainnurruvar Valanjiyar Merchant community in Quanzhou dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. The carvings are dispersed across five primary sites in Quanzhou and the neighboring areas. They were made in the South Indian style, and share close similarities with 13th-century temples constructed in the Chola Nadu region in Tamil Nadu. Nearly all of the carvings were carved with greenish-gray granite, which was widely available in the nearby hills and used in the region’s local architecture. In 1983, the Kaiyuan Temple was designated as a national temple.
The Silk trade by sea brought the South Indians to China and the Chinese to Southern Indian ports and it is very likely the Indians took the knowledge of Silk cultivation and fabrics from China back to India. China had a significant influence on South India; examples of Chinese fishing nets in Kochi and fine china pottery still referred to as “Chini chatti” or Chinese pot in Malayalam and Tamil.
Along the central axis are the Four Heavenly Kings Hall, Mahavira Hall, Sweet Dew Altar of Precepts and Buddhist Texts Library. There are over 10 halls and rooms on both sides, including Tanyue Ancestral Temple, Virtue Hall and Zunsheng Hall.
Hall of Four Heavenly Kings
The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings was built in the Tang dynasty (618–907). It serves as the Shanmen of the temple. In front of the hall, a wooden plaque with a couplet is hung on the hall. It says “Here is the so called Buddha State, the street are all Saints” (此地古称佛国，满街都是圣人). It was composed by Song dynasty scholar Zhu Xi and inscribed by eminent monk Hong Yi.
The Mahavira Hall was originally built in 686 in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and the extant buildings are relics of the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It is 20-metre (66 ft) high, 9 rooms wide, 6 rooms deep and covers an area of 1,387.75-square-metre (14,937.6 sq ft). The hall preserved the majestic and impressive architectural style of the Tang dynasty. The gilded copper statue of Vairocana in enshrined in the middle of the hall with four statues of Buddha made in the Five dynasties (907–960). They are known as “Five Buddha”.
Zhenguo Pagoda (镇国塔) is a five-story wooden pagoda first built in 865 in the Tang dynasty (618–907). But it was destroyed and rebuilt into stone pagoda in 1238 in the Song dynasty (960–1276). The 48.24-metre (158.3 ft) pagoda was octagonal with five stories. Every story is carved with sixteen reliefs with a total of 80 vivid human figures.
The Renshou Pagoda (仁寿塔) was built in 917 in the Later Liang dynasty (907–923). In 1114 in the Song dynasty, it was renamed “Renshou Pagoda” by the Emperor Huizong. It is 44.06-metre (144.6 ft) high and has the similar with the Zhenguo Pagoda.
Sweet Dew Altar of Precepts
The Sweet Dew Altar of Precepts (甘露戒坛) is used for Buddhist believers to ordain the precepts. The caisson (藻井) above the altar which applies the Ruyi brackets has complex and sophisticated structure. Among the brackets of the pillars around the altar, 24 statues of Flying Apsaras with five-color streamers are erected. They are holding musical instruments like pipa, two-stringed fiddle, castanet and etc. and dancing elegantly and vividly. A wood carving sitting Ming dynasty statue of Rocana is placed on the altar. The lotus throne he sits has a thousand lotus petals, each of which is engraved with a 6-centimetre (2.4 in) statue of Buddha.
How to Get There
Bus 2, Bus 6, Bus 24, Bus 26 and Tourist Bus 601 all have a stop at Kaiyuan Temple, Or you may take a taxi to get there.
Main Attractions in Fujian Province
- Longchuan Grand Canyon
- Royal Tea Garden
- Water Curtain Cave
- Jiuqu Stream
- Wuyi Mountains
- Qingjing Mosque
- Lingshan Mountain Park
- The Islamic Holy Tombs