Originally constructed in the 3rd century AD, the Jing’an Temple has undergone a series of reconstructions over the centuries. It was moved from nearby Suzhou Creek during the Song Dynasty and was turned into a plastics factory following Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
The temple’s latest incarnation dates back to the 1980s, when it was rebuilt following a fire which devastated the previous structure. The modern temple is a spiritual refuge in the bustling city centre, its glistening golden roofs and carved mahogany pillars contrasting spectacularly against the busy commercial buildings which surround it.
Shower your nearest and dearest with blessings by burning incense or dropping a coin in the urn by the entrance, before making your way into the shrine. This is a thriving temple, with daily worship and a three-day Temple Fair to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday every May. If you are in Shanghai during the Fair, it’s well worth dropping by. Villagers and city-dwellers have been coming here since the seventeenth-century Qing Dynasty to sell their artisanal crafts and local produce.
Jing’an Temple houses some of China’s most important Buddhist relics, including a 4-metre tall Buddha carved out of jade and the priceless bronze Hongwu bell which dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Other pieces, including the influential art and calligraphy of the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou, are displayed in the exhibition hall. In the basement, you’ll find over 130,000 pieces of carefully preserved stone scripture, while the Grand Hall plays host to a Sakyamuni Buddha, cast from 15 tonnes of silver.
Located on the busy West Nanjing Road, you can reach the temple by bus or metro. It is open every day throughout the year and there is a small entry fee to enter.
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