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Shanghai Longhua Temple

Located on the Longhua Road at the south of Shanghai, Longhua Park is famous for the ancient Longhua Temple, Longhua Pagoda, the Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony and the peach blossoms.

The Longhua Temple is a Buddhist Temple dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha located in Shanghai, China. Although most of the present-day buildings date from later reconstructions, the temple preserves the architectural design of a Song Dynasty monastery of the Buddhist Chan sect. It is the largest, most authentic and complete ancient temple complex in the city of Shanghai.

Architectural design and artwork

The exterior of the Longhua PagodaThe Longhua Temple occupies an area of more than 20,000 square metres, the main axis of the compound has a length of 194 metres. The tallest structure is the Longhua Pagoda, it stands 40.4 metres high.

The layout of the temple is that of a Song Dynasty monastery of the Buddhist Chan sect, known as the Sangharama Five-Hall Style. Five main halls are arranged along a central north-south pointing axis. From the entrance, the buildings are:

The Maitreya Hall (Mile Dian) housing a statue of Maitreya buddha and another in his manifestation as "Budai", or Cloth bag monk.
The Heavenly King Hall (Tianwang Dian) housing statues of the Four Heavenly Kings.
The Grand Hall of the Great Sage (Daxiong Baodian, or Mahavira Hall) is the main hall, housing statues of the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) and two disciples. At the back of the hall is a base relief carving, including a depiction of Guanyin, or the Buddistava Avalokitesvara in his female manifestation. Around the front portion are arranged the twenty Guardians of Buddhist Law, and around the back the sixteen principal arhats. The hall also features an ancient bell cast in 1586, during the Wanli era of the Ming Dynasty.
The Three Sages Hall (San Sheng Dian) houses statues of the Amitabha buddha, and the Buddistavas Avalokitesvara (male form) and Mahasthamaprapta.
The Abbot's Hall (Fangzhang Shi) is a place for lectures and formal meetings.
A Bell Tower and a Drum Tower are arranged off the central axis. The Bell Tower houses a copper bell cast in 1382, the bell is 2 metres tall, has a maximum diameter of 1.3 metres, and weighs five tons. The bell is used in the Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony conducted on New Year's Eve. Also situated off the main axis is a shrine to Ksitigarbha (Dizang the King Bodhissatva).

The Library houses various versions of Buddhist sutras and other Buddhist works, as well as ceremonial instruments, antiques, and artefacts.

Artworks in the temple include statues of the Maitreya Buddha in his Bodhisattva form and in his Cloth Bag Monk incarnation, statues of the 18 arhats and 20 Guardians of Buddhist Law, as well as statues of the 500 Luohans.

The temple grounds also contain a small traditional garden.

The Longhua Pagoda

The Longhua Pagoda is the only remaining pre-modern pagoda in Shanghai city. It has an octagonal floor layout. The size of the seven storeys decreases from the bottom to the top. The pagoda consists of a hollow, tube-like brick core surrounded by a wooden staircase. On the outside, it is decorated with balconies, banisters, and upturned eaves. These outer decorations have been reconstructed in keeping with the original style.

Although previous pagodas existed on the same site, the current brick base and body of the pagoda was built in 977 during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), with continuous renovations of its more fragile wooden components on the exterior. Because of its age, the pagoda is fragile and is not open to the public.

Shanghai Longhua Temple

Edited by Athena Lee
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