The concept of religion took a unique twist in China when elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism gradually began adopting teachings and practices from each other. While each religion maintained an independent identity, they also merged together to become China’s “Three Teachings”. With thousands of years of such a distinctive religious history, it’s no wonder that China has some of the world’s most spectacular temples, attracting millions of tourists from around the globe each year. Though Chengdu is perhaps most noted for pandas, zesty cuisine and teahouses, the city definitely has its share of eminent shrines that should not be overlooked. Below is a list of Chengdu’s most famous temples.
Wuhou Temple. Photo: chengdu.80tian.com
1) Wuhou Temple View In Map
This one is my personal favorite. Constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), Wuhou Temple is not just a famous Chengdu landmark, but renowned throughout all of China for having the largest showcase of relics from the Three Kingdom Period (220-280 CE). With a whopping area of 37,000 sq. m, there’s more to see than just the Martial Marquis Temple main attraction, such as the classical gardens, various Buddhist shrines and the priceless “Three Success” Tang Dynasty stone calligraphy tablet. Next to Wuhou Temple is the ever popular Jinlin Street—a pedestrian walkway lined with delicious snack vendors, tea houses, bars, coffee shops, overpriced souvenir stands, a koi fish pond and a stage that regularly presents traditional Chinese shows. On the weekends, however, the Wuhou area can be a bit overcrowded when tour groups with matching pink hats flood the premises. Consider yourself warned.
Add: 231 Wuhouci Dajie, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 8:00-18:00
Price: 60 RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 14, 26, 53, 57, 213 or 214 to Wuhou Temple Station (武侯祠站)
2) Qingyang TempleView In Map
The Qingyang Temple is unique to this list because it’s the only non-Buddhist one. Instead, it’s Taoist—a homegrown religion deriving from within Chinese borders, unlike Buddhism, which originated from India. Qingyang is considered one of the most holy Taoist temples in China and is said to be a gathering spot of immortal spirits and individuals seeking spiritual enlightenment. It’s also home to the striking “Eight Trigrams Pavilion”, which is based off the old Chinese belief that the Earth is square and the sky is round, and there’s a handsome collection of other Tao inspired artwork that’s worth checking out as well. A stone’s throw away from the temple’s entrance is Cultural Park (文化公园), a beautiful public garden that’s among the best in Chengdu. With a lake, pagoda and (of course) lazy teahouses, Culture Park is a nice extension to the already divine Qingyang Temple.
Add: 9 Yihuan Lu Xi Erduan, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 8:00-17:30
Price: 10 RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 11, 34, 34A, 42, 58, 129 to Qingyang Temple bus stop (青羊宫站)
3) Daci Temple View In Map
The Daci Monastery’s existence was first documented during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), but according to legend, it was actually constructed during the East Han Dynasty (25-220 CE) two millenniums ago. Despite being destroyed and rebuilt several times, after a restoration during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 CE) Daci became known as one of the “Four Eminent Buddhist Monasteries” along the Yangtze River Basin and now serves as one of Chengdu’s most famous religious sights. Upon entering the ancient Buddhist temple, your senses are stimulated with smoky incense, flaming candles and soothing chants from devoted followers. Simultaneously, exhausts from bulldozers, sparks of welding torches and booming jackhammers from the immense construction project next door snap the Zen mood like a pair of flimsy chopsticks. For better or worse, the 250,000 sq. m Chengdu Daci Temple Cultural and Commercial Complex has already broke ground with the aim of creating a mega-shopping center around the Daci premises; so go now while it still has a bit of charm left.
Add: 1 Daci Si Lu, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 8:00-22:00
Price: 3 RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 34, 58, 81, 98 to the Daci Monastery bus stop (大慈寺站)
4) Wenshu Monastery (Manjushri Monastery) View In Map
Wenshu Monastery was constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) by the accomplished monk Cidu. In fact, it’s said that when Cidu passed away and was cremated, the statue of Bodhisattva Manjushri also ignited in flames, hence the name “Manjushri” Monastery. Apart from 300 diverse Buddha statues, Wenshu Monastery is also home to more than 500 of Chengdu’s most famous calligraphy pieces and paintings, a jade Buddha from Burma and even an exhibit with a piece of skull from the prominent Tang Dynasty monk Xuan Zhang. The neighborhood around the Wenshu Monastery is also quite pleasant. There’s a tranquil park with teahouses and musicians playing classical Chinese instruments in case you need a break from relentless bowing. And unlike the surroundings at Daci Temple, classical architecture, small alleys, Buddhists inspired shops and traditional restaurants are still intact and spot the neighborhood.
Add: 66 Wenshu Yuan Jie, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Opening hours: 8:00-16:00
Price: 5 RMB
Getting there: Take Line 1 of the metro to Wenshu Station (文殊站) or take bus No. 16, 55, 98, 300 to Wenshu bus stop (文殊站)
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