Situated in beautiful Xiamen, is the spectacular South Putuo Temple. Also known as “Nanputuo”, this Buddhist temple has a rich history spanning well over a thousand years. South Putuo Temple is the most famous of its kind in southern Fujian province. It is named after the Buddhist holy site, Mount Putuo located in Zhejiang province. With its long history and cultural importance, South Putuo Temple is a must-see attraction that cannot be missed.
- South Putuo Temple and surrounding grounds covers a total area of 322,917 square meters.
- It lies at the foot of the famous Wulao Peak, and is located on the southeast section of Xiamen Island.
- South Putuo Temple provides sensational panoramic views of the surrounding areas of Gulangyu, Haicang, and Zhangzhou City.
- The complex has a lengthy history spanning from the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 CE).
- South Putuo Temple was completely rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 CE).
History Of South Putuo Temple
South Putuo Temple was first constructed during the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 CE). Buddhist monks who resided in the area, established it as a sacred site, thus, a temple was erected. It was named Sizhou Temple.
During the Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368 CE), unfortunately the temple was destroyed due to warfare. In the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), again the temple sustained further damage.
In 1684, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1661 to 1722 CE), the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty, the temple was rebuilt. Considered one of China’s greatest emperors, Kangxi was the longest-reigning emperor in Chinese history, and one of the longest-reigning rulers in the world. Not only did he expand the empire, but he was responsible for numerous cultural and public-works projects. One of the emperor’s naval officers personally funded the reconstruction of the temple. After its reconstruction, it was renamed “Nanputuo Temple” in honor of the Buddhist holy site at Mount Putuo in Zhejiang.
In 1924, the first abbot of South Putuo Temple was appointed, by the name of Hui Quan. Thereafter, several notable scholars have taught at the temple including Hong Yi and Yin Shun.
During the 1980s, South Putuo Temple underwent further renovations and restoration.
Culture Of South Putuo Temple
South Putuo Temple contains four main structures, which include Devajara Hall (the Hall of Heavenly Kings), Dabei Hall (the Hall of Great Compassion), Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), and a pavilion that was constructed in 1936.
Devajara Hall: Also referred to as “Heavenly King Hall”, this hall contains statues of four Heavenly Kings, hence the name. Situated in the hall’s center, is a gigantic Maitreya, or Laughing Buddha.
Dabei Hall: Also known as the Hall of Great Compassion. This is main shrine in the temple and was built during the reconstruction that occurred during the Qing dynasty. This section is used for worshipping Kwan-yin. Many local inhabitants come here to burn incense and pray.
Mahavira Hall: This hall contains statues representing the Trinity of the Three Ages (Kasyapa, the Buddha of the Past; Sakyamuni, the Buddha of the Present; Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future), Avalokitesvara (known as the Goddess of Mercy), and several of Avalokitesvara’s disciples.
Pavilion of Buddhist Sutras: Built in 1936, the two-storey pavilion serves as a depository for thousands of Buddhist scriptures, bronze bells, wooden and ivory sculptures, and other cultural relics. Two of the most famous pieces housed in the pavilion are a collection of 28 Burmese jade Buddhas, and a white porcelain statue of Kwan-yin, created by the famous Ming dynasty sculptor, He Chaozong.
Every February 19th, June 19th, and September 19th of the Chinese lunar calendar, gathers are held at South Putuo Temple to celebrate the enlightenment of Kwan-yin. During this time, many Buddhist activities take place at the temple, many of the faithful pray to the numerous statues of Kwan-yin, and visitors can sample the famous vegetarian food that is served.
- Visitors are reminded that South Putuo Temple is a functioning religious facility, and therefore be respectful.
- Admission to South Putuo Temple is free, and the gates open daily from 3 pm to 9 pm.
- The temple is famous for its vegetarian cuisine that is served to visitors. It is considered to be some of the best vegetarian food in Fujian province.
- South Putuo Temple is easily accessible via Xiamen public transportation.