10 Buddhist Temples in China to Visit Once in a Lifetime

Chinese culture has been dramatically affected by evolving Buddhism in many fields, including medicine, philosophy, art, literature, and material culture.

In China, several temples and monasteries preserve Buddhism’s history and the populace’s sincere beliefs.

Take a deeper look at Chinese Buddhism, as well as the best in architecture and art.

Whether you’re a tourist or a resident who wants to explore what makes Chinese Buddhism so distinctive, visiting a Buddhist temple is highly advised. These ten Buddhist temples in China are a must-see and will enhance your journey.

1. Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple

A Buddhist monastery called Shaolin Temple was established in the Chinese province of Henan in 495. The Indian monk Bodhidharma traveled to China in the fifth century to teach Buddhism when the Shaolin Temple first appeared.

He looked for a quiet location to contemplate, and he found it in the highlands of the Song Mountains. He established the Shaolin Monastery and gave the monks yoga and meditation instruction to help them develop their bodies and minds.

At this point, Chinese translations of Indian texts and the founding principles of Zen Buddhism emerged. The Shaolin Monastery transformed into a hub for Buddhist research and physical training throughout the years.

2. South Putuo Temple

South Putuo Temple

In the Chinese city of Xiamen, South Putuo is a well-known Buddhist temple that dates back to the Tang period. Its location south of Mount Putuo, a sacred Buddhist place in Zhejiang Province, is the reason for its name.

Nanputuo Temple has been the hub of Buddhism interchanges domestically and internationally since the 1920s. It is also one of Xiamen City’s eight picturesque locations and a national central Buddhist temple in the Han region.

Buddhist texts, Burmese Buddha statues, ivory sculptures, and other art items are kept under a Pavilion completed in 1936. There are several rooms around the main structures, including dormitories, libraries, and monk study areas.

It is the wealthiest temple in Xiamen, and many visitors come here to make wishes for prosperity and good health. People, animals, luxuriant flora, and landscape architecture coexist peacefully.

3. Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery

The First Dalai Lama established the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in 1447. The Monastery, which has 70,000 square meters of space, is now Tibe’s most prominent active place of worship.

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The giant gilded statue in the world is the enormous golden statue of the Future Buddha. The monument, which took 900 artists and workers four years to build, was created in 1914 under the patronage of the ninth Panchen Lama.

Tashilhunpo has survived the turbulent waters of the Cultural Revolution and has mostly escaped damage. Strolling along the cobblestone alleyways that wind around its historic buildings is enjoyable.

4. Hanging Temple

Hanging Temple

In Shanxi Province, China, the Hanging Temple was carved from a cliff not far from Mount Heng.

The fact that this temple, which was built more than 1,500 years ago, is the only one that is still in existence that integrates the three traditional Chinese religions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism makes it notable.

The Monastery protects the peak from degradation from rain and sunburn by hanging from the middle of the cliff beneath it.

In the little canyon basin, there lies a monastery. The structure is held in place by oak cross beams that are put into cliff-cut holes.

The Hanging Temple is one of the world’s undiscovered treasures and a genuinely spectacular technical achievement. In 2010, Times magazine named the Hanging Temple one of “The Top 10 Unique and Precipitous Architectures.”

5. White Horse Temple

White Horse Temple

The White Horse Temple is located in Luoyang, Henan. It was built in 68 AD and is the oldest Buddhist temple in China.

The White Horse Temple seems serious and peaceful since old, shady trees surround it. A fence surrounds the pool outside the entrance, with excellent fish swimming.

At the entryway are two fabled lions, two white horses that carried Indian monks to China, and arhats. The graves of She Moteng and Zhu Falan, two of the six most well-known sites here, are located west and east of the gate.

6. Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

In Barkhor Square in Lhasa, the administrative center of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, there is a Buddhist temple called the Jokhang.

Tibetans consider this temple the most revered and significant temple in Tibet.

The tale claims that after several fruitless efforts to construct a temple in the area, people finally chose the lake location.

One thousand goats were used to transport material from a far mountain to fill and level the lake, which was then used as the foundation for the Monastery.

Regardless of whether the myth is accurate, the Jokhang Temple introduced Buddhism to this region and became an integral element of Tibetan culture and history. Around the temple, the city of Ra-Sa grew and eventually took the name Lhasa, a sacred place.

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There were just eight shrines in the original compound. The facility developed to its current size after many restorations.

The Gelug school presently looks after the temple. However, they welcome devotees from all branches of Buddhism. The temple’s architecture combines elements of Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian vihara styles.

7. Lingyin Temple

Lingyin Temple

In the Zhejiang Province of China, Lingyin Temple is a temple of the Chan sect situated northwest of Hangzhou. The temple’s name is sometimes rendered literally as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat.

Huili, an Indian monk, constructed the first Lingyin Monastery, a Zen Buddhist temple, in 326 AD. Lingyin Temple has undergone several renovations and periods of destruction due to its lengthy history.

It is one of China’s most significant and opulent Buddhist temples, with several pagodas and caves. The temple comprises several structures, including the Hall of the Heavenly King, the Hall of the Great Hero, the East, and West Winding Corridors, and others.

Additionally, Lingyin Temple is home to many Buddhist artifacts and relics that have been important to the spread of Buddhism in the area. A statue of Maitreya with a smiling countenance, is located in the Hall of the Heavenly King.

8. Kumbum Monastery

Kumbum Monastery

Tibetan temple Kumbum Monastery is located in Qinghai, China. It was established in 1583 in a small valley near the community of Lusar in the former Tibetan territory of Amdo.

Kumbum Monastery occupies 143 hectares and is home to nearly 10,000 buildings, including monks’ residences, 52 halls, numerous Buddhist structures, and more than 100,000 artifacts.

The beautiful “Three Arts,” discussing specific Buddhist scriptures, and visiting significant Buddhist festivals are a few of Kumbum Monastery’s top attractions.

Spending some time in the Monastery’s vicinity is also worthwhile since it is a pleasant place for trekking in a valley of fields with mountains in the background. You can see the pious pilgrims making their way around the Monastery in slow, meditative strides.

9. Wenshu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery

This Monastery is in the middle and downstream region of the Yangtze River Wenshu Monastery, situated in the heart of Chengdu City. Additionally, it is Chengdu’s most prominent and best-preserved Buddhist Monastery.

Wenshu Monastery is a genuine Buddhist temple rather than a tourist attraction. The Monastery is accessible to the general public, and the temple offers free incense for individuals to burn.

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Several residents may attend services and incense burning at this authentic and bustling Buddhist temple. In addition, Wenshu Monastery has a beautiful garden inside the temple, where locals frequently wander.

10. Wannian Temple

Wannian Temple

Buddhist temple Wannian Temple is situated at the base of Mount Emei’s Camel Mountain Range. It is one of Mount Emei’s six original Buddhist temples.

This temple, which stands 1020 meters above sea level, is well known across the country for its magnificent Buddha Samantabhadra statue and other priceless items. The temple has a long history as a Buddhist temple and is very popular with both Buddhists and visitors today.

The Amazing Buddha Samantabhadra Statue, weighing over 62 tons and reaching close to 8 meters tall, is one of the Ten Thousand Year Temple’s features. This original Song Dynasty statue remains large and imposing despite being more than a thousand years old.

The temple is also crammed with several other, less stunning but no less magnificent Buddhist statues. There are lovely paintings of graceful flying Apsaras on the ceiling.

FAQs

How many Chinese temples are there in China?

In China now, there are more than 25,000 Buddhist pagodas. One hundred sixty-one pagodas are designated as national priority protected sites.

What is the largest Buddhist temple?

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

What is the oldest Buddhist temple in China?

In Henan, there is a Buddhist temple called White Horse Temple. It was built in 68 AD and is the oldest Buddhist temple in China.

Visit the temple here!

Final Thoughts

There may not be a finer representation of China’s extensive and varied history than its temples, which date back thousands of years.

These revered places of tranquility are the ideal representation of China’s various theological influences and its distinctive architectural style.

China’s temples are incredibly distinctive, unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else, ranging from traditional Tibetan retreats to old imperial ruins.

These temples in China make it simple to put our troubles behind us and to be the most excellent versions of ourselves.