The Baoguang Temple, also known as the Temple of Divine Light, is one of the biggest and oldest Buddhist places of worship in China. The term Baoguang can be directly translated to ‘divine light’, and it was derived from an actual incident based on Emperor Xizong of the Tang Dynasty.
During Emperor Xizong’s reign the capital Xi’an was experiencing unrest and much saddened by this the Emperor set out for a walk in the night. As he passed the temple much to his surprise he saw a light shining from the place of worship. When he inquired about this from the Master of the temple he found out that the light was being emitted from the Shelizi, a Buddhist relic, and that it was a good omen. The Emperor was so happy that when the unrest in Xi’an was over he wanted to excavate the area. As a result thirteen crystal clear Shelizis were unearthed and an elaborate and impressive pagoda was built.
Over the years, during various dynasties, the pagoda has been renovated several times. What is visible today is a square shaped ‘dagoba’ which has 13 levels and which reaches as high as 30 metres. Inside the premises there is much to see, and this place of worship is one of the best places to explore if you are interested in the Buddhist cultural heritage of China and the rest of the world.
One of its main attractions is the Arhat Hall which is the largest and oldest of its kind in the country. It was built during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty in the year 1851, and it features 518 gilded Arhat statues and 59 Buddhist statues. These statues are each about 2 metres in height and they are carved in a manner to portray different postures of Arhats.
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