The renowned Longhua Temple is a Buddhist shrine which is devoted to the figure of the Buddha Maitreya in Buddhist lore. It has the distinction of being the largest and best preserved temple compound in Shanghai. The temple is frequented by numerous devotees and sightseers, confirming its status as an important place of worship. First constructed during the Three Kingdoms Period, Longhua Temple is also the most ancient shrine in the city, with a historical legacy spanning more than 1,700 years. Since the complex has been seriously damaged in military conflicts over the years, many of the structures at the site were rebuilt during the rule of the Qing Dynasty Emperors Guangxu and Tongzhi.
The expansive temple complex sprawls over a large area and features many interesting hallways and chambers that will captivate the visitor. The principal axis of the compound, which measures no less than 194m, includes the Maitreya Hall, Mahavira Hall, Devaraja Hall, Abbot’s Hall, Three Sages Hall and the Sutra Keeping Hall where the most precious relics of the temple are kept. These treasures include gold seals, Buddhist statues and Dazang sutras. Meanwhile, the impressive Drum Tower and Bell Tower are positioned on either side of the main axis. The entire compound conforms precisely to the Buddhist conception of symmetry and is also compatible with the traditional Chinese idea of harmony and beauty.
However, it is the imposing 40m-tall, seven-storey Longhua Pagoda thattakes pride of place here. Composed primarily of brick, its interior also features wooden structures. Every storey is of smaller dimensions than the storey beneath it, with each level surrounded by banisters and balconies. Another well-known feature of the complex is its enormous copper bell, which is faithfully struck on New Year’s Eve, and many visitors arrive to witness this ceremony and usher in the New Year. The temple fair that takes place in spring is another popular attraction when many pilgrims and tourists arrive at the temple where the peach trees will be in full bloom.
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Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday.