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Longhua Temple

Longhua_Temple.jpgIntroduction
The Longhua Temple is located on the Longhua area (formerly Longhua township) of Shanghai. Its street address is No. 2853 Longhua Road (Longhua Lu), which is the oldest, largest and most majestic Buddhist building in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River Delta. It's also one of the best reserved temples in Shanghai and the pagoda is the only one in Shanghai that existed before modern times. This spiritual attraction is famous for its old temple, old tower, and temple fair. With collections of various sutras, golden seal, and figures of Buddha from Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties.

Longhua_Temple_2.jpgHistory & Background
According to research,the temple was first built in 242 AD, during the Three Kingdoms Period. From a legend, Sun Quan (孙权), King of the Kingdom of Wu, had it built to show filial love to his mother about 1700 years ago, hence the pagoda also called as Bao'en Pagoda (报恩塔, Repaying Pagoda). But the temple was destroyed by war towards the end of the Tang dynasty and rebuilt in 977 AD, under the autonomous Kingdom of Wuyue during the Northern Song dynasty period. Later in the Song dynasty, in 1064, it was renamed Kong Xiang Temple, but the original Longhua Temple was restored in the Ming dynasty during the reign of the Wanli Emperor. The present architectural design follows the Song dynasty original. However, whereas the core of the present Longhua Pagoda survives from that period, most buildings in the temple proper were rebuilt during the reigns of the Tongzhi Emperor and the Guangxu Emperor in the Qing dynasty. A modern restoration of the entire temple complex was carried out in 1954.

Longhua_Temple_3.jpgStructure
The Longhua Temple occupies an area of more than 20,000 square metres and the main axis of the compound is 194 metres (636 ft) long. The layout of the temple is that of a Song dynasty monastery of the Buddhist Chan sect, known as the Sangharama Five-Hall Style.

It was devided into five parts. The first part is Maitreya Hall (Mile Dian) housing a statue of Maitreya buddha and another in his manifestation as "Budai", or Cloth bag monk. The second is 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 third as well as the main hall, housing statues of the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) and two disciples. 

At the back of the hall is a bas-relief carving, including a depiction of Guanyin, or the Buddistava Avalokite?vara 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 forth part is the Three Sages Hall (San Sheng Dian) houses statues of the Amitabha buddha, and the Buddistavas Avalokite vara (male form) and Mahāsthāmaprāpta. The final part is the Abbot's Hall (Fangzhang Shi) is a place for lectures and formal meetings.

The tallest structure is the Longhua Pagoda which stands 40.4 metres high.standing in front of the Longhua Temple. It has a brick body and wooden staircases; reconstructed in 1950s on the bases of former body and footing built in Song Dynasty. It is in the shape of octagon outside but square insider and the area is contracted storey by storey.

Longhua Pagoda
The Longhua Pagoda is the best well-known of the 16 historic pagodas that still stand within the Shanghai municipality. 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 under the Wuyue kingdome (907-978), 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.

Activities & Temple Fair
As a key Buddhism temple in Shanghai, activities and celebrations in Longhua Temple are rich and grand mainly fall on the New Year's Day, the Spring Festival, the Tomb-sweeping Festival, the Temple Fair on the 3rd lunar March, and a auspicious celebration in October, of which the Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony on 31st December to welcome the New Year and the Temple Fair are the most important which have been fixed for over 300 years. The Bell Tower and Druw Tower are off the axis. The bell tower has a bronze bell that weighs 3,000 kilograms or 3.3 tons. It was cast in 1894. On the evening of New Year’s Eve on December 31st, it is a tradition to strike the bell 108 times to ring in the year. When the peaches are in full blossom in late spring, it is the time that the Longhua Temple welcomes its busiest festival with the Temple Fair on the 3rd lunar March. The grand Dharma assembly attracts large numbers of pilgrims as well as tourists to the temple making it a place of great hustle and bustle. 

Vegetarian Restaurant
It is common for active Buddhist complexes in China to have a vegetarian restaurant or cafeteria. There is one behind the fourth hall. It serves basic meals between 11 am and 2 pm.

Transportation
Address: 2853 Longhua Lu, Xuhui, Shanghai. 上海市徐汇区龙华路2853号.
Bus: 41, 44, 733, 734, 864, 809 to Longhua Station.
Metro: Take Metro Line 3 and get off at Longcao Road Station. Then you can walk for 15 minutes.

Admission Fee:CNY  10 and free incense.
Opening Time: Daily 7am-4:30 pm.

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