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Monday, September 21, 2015

SOUTH PUTUO [NANPUTUO] TEMPLE, XIAMEN ISLAND

Nanputuo Temple [aka South Putuo Temple] is situated at the foot of Wulaofeng [Mountain of Five Old Men] and facing the sea. It is one of the must visit places in Xiamen, Fujian Province. Even if you are not interested in Buddhism, you will find the place a scenic area providing you with a refreshing experience. 

This Buddhist temple was once called Puzhao Temple [Universal Grace Temple]. It was first built during the Tang Dynasty [618-900] and was later destroyed in the warfare during the Ming Dynasty [1368-1644]. During the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi [1662-1722], a naval general ordered it to be rebuilt into a Buddhist Temple and named it Nanputuo Temple.
The temple covers 30,000 square meters with four main buildings on the north-south axis. The buildings include Devajara Hall [the Hall of Heavenly Kings], Mahavira Hall [Daxiongbaodian], Dabei Hall [the Hall of Great Compassion] and a Pavilion built in 1936 in which Buddhist scriptures, Buddha images from Burma, ivory sculptures and other works of art are stored. 

The many rooms flanking the main buildings include dormitories, libraries and study rooms for monks:

Devajara Hall aka the Hall of Heavenly Kings [Tian Wang Dian] is the first Hall which you see as you walk-in. Here is the location of the statues of four ferocious Heavenly Kings. In the center of the hall stands a fat Buddha, Maitreya or Milefo. With a broad smile, bare chest and exposed paunch, Maitreya represents the Buddha of the future also known as the Laughing Buddha.


Mahavira Hall is built in 1921 and features the statues of the Trinity of the Three Ages [Sakyamuni - the Buddha of the Present; Kasyapa - the Buddha of the Past and Maitreya - the Buddha of the Future], Avalokitesvara - Guanyin Bodhisattva, the Goddess of Mercy and Avalokitesvara's disciples. Most of the attractive murals on the wall depict Buddhist stories and figures from India.

Dabei Hall - is an octagonal tower which was rebuilt in 1928. There are four Statues of Avalokitesvara enshrined on a lotus-flower base. The Bodhisattva with his arms crossed in front of his chest has 48 hands stretching out. Each hand features a miniature scared eye. Two banyans are planted on each side of the hall.

Sutra-Keeping Pavilion - was built in 1936 and houses thousands of Buddhist scriptures, Buddha images from Burma, ivory sculptures, wood sculptures, bronze bells, incense burner and other works of art. One particular porcelain Avalokitesvara in the Pavilion is said to be very precious.

Vegetarian food is also served in the temple. The dishes' unique colors, fresh tastes and poetic names make them popular with the tourists. 
I did not managed to take photos in some of the halls because I was told not to especially those statues enshrined in the glass cases. Many other areas are under renovation during my visit.

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