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Top 10 Temples in China

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1.White Horse Temple
White Horse Temple was the first officially built Buddhist temple in China. It was built more than 2000 years ago, and it is the first Buddhist temple. Over the years, the White Horse Temple had been reconstructed and renovated numerous times. Facing the south, the rectangular complex consists of Daxiong Palace, Tianwang Palace, Jieyin Palace, Pilu Palace, Dafo Palace, Qiyun Pagoda, and others. These imposing palaces contain vivid, lifelike statues. Around White Horse Temple, there are scenic spots related to many historical events.

On the east side of the gate of White Horse Temple, there is an exquisite towering pagoda of classic elegance called Qiyun Pagoda. Constructed of bricks and square in cross section, it has 13 stories and is 35 meters high. The structure distinguishes itself as a very unique and rare pagoda in China. Qiyun Pagoda used to be a dagoba of White Horse Temple. The pagoda that exists now was rebuilt in 1175 and is the oldest building preserved in Luoyang today.


2.Jokhang Temple
During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), King Songtsem Gampo (617 – 650), the 33rd king of Tibet actively promoted Buddhism in Tibet and under his reign, Tibet achieved great progress in social innovation and realized the integration of Tibet for the first time. In order to promote friendly relationships with the neighboring countries, he successively married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty. When the two wives arrived in Tibet, each brought a statue of Jowo Sakyamuni. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsem Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Burikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, in 647 the giant complex was built.

Included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple is located in central Lhasa in Tibet. With an area of 25,100 square meters, it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. The Jokhang Temple was built on the former site of a lake. This temple brought Buddhism into Tibet and became an inseparable part of Tibetan history and culture. The city of Ra-Sa grew around the temple and over time, become known as Lhasa, a holy land.


3.Famen Temple
Famen Temple, renowned for storing the veritable Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha, is located in Fufeng County of Shaanxi Province, 120km east of Xian and 96km west of Baoji. With a history of 1,700 years, Famen Temple is considered the "Forerunner of the Ziggurat in Central Shaanxi."

Between Temple Gate Square and Foguang Avenue stand four gates, Foguang Gate, Prajna Gate, Bodhi Gate and Perfect Wisdom Gate. Covering an area of 140,000sq km, Foguang Avenue is 1230m long and 108m wide. As the main axis, it divides the Scenic Area into the Western Section and the Eastern Section. The Eastern Section, named "Famous Site of Buddha", displays the whole process from birth to nirvana of Sakyamuni. The Western Section, named "Source of Buddhist Realm", exhibits the great advance of Buddhism ever since Sakyamuni achieved nirvana. Along the Foguang Avenue are ten statues of well-known Bodhisattva. There are many treasure stored under the pagoda.


4.Temple of Confucius
The Temple of Confucius in Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, is the most famous and the largest among the temples for Confucius. Located inside the south gate of Qufu, Shandong, the Temple of Confucius is a group of grand buildings built in oriental style. Together with the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Mountain Resort of Chengde, the Temple of Confucius in Qufu is one of the three largest ancient architectural complexes in China.

The existing Temple of Confucius was rebuilt and renovated during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Patterned after a royal palace, it is divided into nine courtyards. The main buildings run along a north to south axis, with the attached buildings symmetrically in line. The whole group includes three halls, one pavilion, one altar, and three ancestral temples. Altogether there are 466 rooms and 54 gateways covering an area of 218,000 square meters. The yellow tiles and red walls all covered with delicate decoration make the Temple extremely grand. However, the Temple wins its fame not only for its grandness, but also for the rich cultural relics found there. The 2100 pieces of steles remaining from various dynasties make a fine exhibition of calligraphy and stone sculpture.


5.Labrang Lamasery
The Labrang Monastery is located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain northwest of Xiahe County in Gannan Tibetan Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. A propitious place in the hearts of the Tibetan, it stands by the Daxia River and faces the Dragon Mountain.

The architectural layout of the Labrang Monastery belongs to the Tibetan style and the construction patterns are mostly Tibetan, Han's mode and a compound style of both Han's and Tibetan. The symbols of the whole construction are the White Towers both in the northeast and in the northwest. The grand sutra and Buddha halls are located in the northwestern part centered on the Grand Sutra Hall. Other halls spread in a shape similar to a crescent moon.

The Labrang Monastery boasts tens of thousands of statues of Buddha made of gold, silver, copper, and aluminum. There are statues with ivory, sandalwood, jade, crystal and clay as the basic materials. The Labrang Monastery holds seven large-scale summon ceremonies a year, among which the Summons Ceremony in the first lunar month and the Buddhist Doctrine Explaining Ritual in the seventh lunar month are the grandest ones.


6.Shaolin Temple
Shaolin Temple, in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, is reputed to be 'the Number One Temple under Heaven'. Included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2010, the temple is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel.

Shaolin Temple embraces many exciting attractions, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall, the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training Center. Visitors may follow the virtual guide about the Shaolin Temple. The main buildings consist of the Shanmen Hall, the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall and the Pagoda Forest. The Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts), or the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu is famous all over the word. Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. The system was invented by Dharma who taught the monks basic methods to improve their health and defend themselves. The Martial art performance shows the true Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu.


7.Tar Lamasery
As the religious activity center of both monks and followers of the Yellow Hat Sect, the Tar Monastery is located in Huangzhong County, Qinghai Province, 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) away from the capital city of Qinghai Province, Xining.

In order to commemorate Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), founder of the Yellow Hat Sect, the Tar Monastery was built in 1577. During its long 400 years of history, it has gradually become a place of interest for its distinct ethnic color and native style. Now the Tar Monastery is considered a sacred place in China.

The whole area covers more than 144 thousand square meters with mountains surrounding it. It has 9,300 rooms and 52 halls. The Tar Monastery is a group of fine buildings in a combination of both the Han and Tibetan styles of architecture on the mountain slopes. It has lofty temples and halls rising one upon another. The palace buildings, Buddhist halls, sleeping quarters, as well as the courtyards echo each other and thus enhance the beauty of the whole area. Among so many buildings, the Great Hall of the Golden Roof and the Great Hall of Meditation are the main parts. The Ta'er Monastery is rich in fascinating arts. The famous butter sculptures, the barbolas, and the murals are considered to be the three most unique arts of superb craftsmanship.


8.Hanging Monastery
Hanging Monastery stands at the foot of Mt. Hengshan, 5 kilometers south of Hunyuan County, and 65 kilometers from downtown Datong City. Hanging Monastery, built in 491, has survived more than 1400 years. The extant monastery was largely rebuilt and maintained in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Since it hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground, it is called Hanging Monastery.

Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder. The cliff shields it from floods and long-time sunshine. The construction followed a principle in Taoism: no noises, including those from rooster crowing and dog baying. A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. Crossbeams were half-inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back became its support. Seen from below, Hanging Monastery appears to be a tumble-down castle in the air. Inside, Hanging Monastery provides the same scene as other temples.


9.Jinci Temple
Located 25 kilometers to the southeast of downtown Taiyuan City, Jinci Temple is a combination of historical cultural relics and beautiful landscapes. The welcoming boughs of a multitude of ancient trees provide an eye-catching entrance to the temple. Beyond this, the numerous halls, cabinets, pavilions and bridges are guaranteed to keep any visitor enthralled. Jinci Temple was, to a certain extent, an imperial garden. Accordingly, some three hundred tablets were inscribed for it with writings by emperors, officials and poets, and these now line a scenic path in the temple.


10.Temple of Guan Yu
Temple of Guan Yu was first built in 1693. Having been expanded and constructed several times, the compound now occupies an area of 12,590 square meters. It is reputed as the top scenic spot in Zhoukou, being a witness to the boom and splendor of commerce in former days.

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