In the western part of Shanghai, a very modern and flourishing city, there is a venerable and famous Buddhist temple, Jade Buddha Temple. In 1882, an old temple was built to keep two jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma by a monk named Huigen. The temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Fortunately the jade Buddha statues were saved and a new temple was built on the present site in 1928. It was named the Jade Buddha Temple.
During the period of Emperor Guangxu's reign a monk named Huigen went from Puto Mountain to worship the Buddha in India and on his way back he, traversing through Myanmar, brought five statues, big and small, of jade Buddha back to China. In 1882, the eighth year in the reign of Guangxu he left two of the Sakyamuni statues in Shanghai when passing by and with his a temple was first built at Jiangwan, naming it the Jade Buddha Temple.
The temple is an imitation of the palatial buildings of the Song Dynasty. The first row is the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the second the Mahavira Hall and the third the abbot hall, above which is the hall for the Jade Buddha. Sitting in the shrine at the center is that Jade Buddha and on both sides of the hall are kept the Tripitaka Sutra in full text, which, published in the reign of Emperor Qianlong, consists of 7,000 volumes in total. The rest halls in the temple include the Meditation Hall, Vegetarian Canteen, Recumbent-Buddha Hall, Hall of Charity and Virtue, Bronze Buddha Hall and Hall of Goddess of Mercy and some other halls and abodes for visitors.
The Jade Buddhas are the treasure of the temple. One, sitting 1.9 meters high, is carved out of a whole piece of white jade, which, pure and shiny with a solemn look, can be taken as a treasure piece in the art of Buddhism. Another is a Reclining Buddha of 0.95 meter in length, a Sakyamuni figure in the state of nirvana. Hung on the walls of the Reclining Buddha Hall are the four pictures describing imaginatively the life of the Buddha. Therefore, the Jade Buddha Temple is a temple with magnificent building and matchless Jade Buddhas, a renowned Buddhist temple in Shanghai.
What the busloads come for are the temple's two gorgeous white jade Buddhas, each carved from an individual slab of Burmese jade and brought to Shanghai in 1881 by the monk Huigeng, who was on his way back from Burma to his hometown on nearby Putuo Shan (Putuo Island). A temple was built in 1882 to house the statues, but was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt at the present site in 1918 with swirling eaves characteristic of the Song Dynasty architectural style. Northeast of the main Daxiong Bao Dian (Treasure Hall of the Great Hero), which contains golden images of the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, the Cangjing Lou houses the first of the two treasures: a lustrous, beatific, seated Buddha weighing 205 kilograms (455 lb.), measuring 1.9m (6 ft. 5 in.), and adorned with jewels and stones. The other Buddha is found northwest of the main hall in the Wofo Si, where a less impressive but still beautiful 1m-long (3 ft. 4 in.) sleeping Buddha reclines, his peaceful expression signaling his impending entry into nirvana. Opposite it is a much larger, coarser replica donated by the Singapore Buddhist Friendship Association in 1988.
In the temple, photography is forbidden. The temple closes for lunch between noon and 1 pm, and is open daily except on special occasions, such as the Lunar New Year.
Also in the precincts is a branch of the Antiques & Curio Store that sells miniature sandalwood drums and gongs, replicas of the large ones used in ceremonies. The 70 monks who live and work here can sometimes be seen worshiping. A vegetarian restaurant can be found on the temple grounds.
The Jade Buddha Temple is a good place to go whether you are a Buddhist or not, the peaceful and transcendent atmosphere adds a kind of richness to our busy modern society.
Tips No photography of the Jade Buddha is permitted, but postcards are available and photography was allowed in other rooms.
Addresss: Anyuan Lu 170, west of Jiangning Lu, 6 long blocks north of Beijing Xi Lu, Putuo District, Admission Fee: RMB 20 Opening Hours: 08:00 to 16:30 Recommending Time for a Visit: 1.5 hours Bus Route: No.13, 19, 24, 36, 54, 63, 68, 76, 105, 106, 112, 113, 138, 206, 223, 506, 516, 550, 563, 738, 768, 830, 837, 866, 922 buses will take you there.