The famed Guiyuan Buddhist Temple is well known amongst the Buddhist faithful in China and is a visitor attraction in its own right. This expansive place of worship is located in Wuhan’s Hanyang district and is considered to be amongst the four finest temples in the city. Guiyuan Temple was initially constructed during the reign of the Qing Dynasty in the year 1658. It was built on the location of Wuzhangpu Kuiyuan which dated to the Ming Dynasty. Interestingly the buildings were not constructed at once; instead the compound was gradually added to in the ensuing decades to reach its present dimensions. The phrase ‘Guiyuan’ is derived from a Buddhist sutra and means the liberation from existence and suffering, and the achievement of tranquillity and purity.
Somewhat unusually for a typical Buddhist shrine, Guiyuan Temple features attractive well-maintained gardens. The overall design of the temple compound is compact and features various delicate touches.
Notably there are no less than five attractive courtyards in the compound. The temple is entered via the courtyard on the east; visitors will see a sizable apricot coloured doorway which opens to the east, which is said to symbolize the liberation of humanity from suffering, and the need to create benevolent relationships.
As you enter the temple you will observe the northern courtyard on the right, where the Kwan-yin Bodhisattva, Dashizhi Bodhisattva and Amitabha, the ‘Three Western Saints’ are worshipped. A pavilion located in the courtyard houses a valuable collection of Buddhist cultural artefacts, Buddha figures, religious relics, paintings, stone carvings and other important items.
Adjacent to the southern courtyard you will find the renowned Lohan Hall (lohan is the Chinese word for Arhat, a Buddhist saint). Here the visitor will see no less than 500 lohan figures, all of identical size.
Meanwhile centrally positioned in the middle courtyard you will see a large statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. You will also see a figure of a lion, which is said to be Sakyamuni in a previous existence.
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Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.