Throughout China’s thousands of years of history, different religions have thrived in different dynasties. As a type of token left behind by religions during their times of prosperity, temples remain today, some hundreds of years old.
Among the countless temples spread across the country, serving as testimonials to the dynasties in which they were built, 10 are the legendary and the most famous: White Horse Temple (白马寺), Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺), Shaolin Temple (少林寺), Hanshan Temple (also Cold Mountain Temple, 寒山寺), Longxing Temple (隆兴寺), Qingjing Temple (清净寺), Daxiangguo Temple (大相国寺), Wofo Temple (also Temple of the Recumbent Buddha 卧佛寺), Kumbum Monastery (塔尔寺), and Tashilunpo Monastery (扎什伦布寺).
Aside from this well-known list of Top 10 Ancient Temples in China, China Whisper also compiled an alternative list of China’s most famous 10 temples.
Via China Whisper.
1. Shaolin Temple
“Shaolin Temple is famous for Zen Buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu. It gained fame in the Sui and Tang dynasties, but now this 1500 years old temple is rumored to have become too commercial, disappointing many people.”
2. White Horse Temple
“The White Horse Temple (or Baimasi) is located 12 km away from the east of Luoyang City. Established by the Han Dynasty in 68 AD when Buddhism started to spread, this temple is believed to be the first Buddhist temple in China.”
3.The Confucian Temple
“The Confucian Temple is located in Qufu City, it was built in 478 BC to memorialize Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher and educator. The Qufu Confucian Temple is the largest and earliest one among temples with similar architecture.”
4. Famen Temple
“Famen Temple is located in Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province. The temple was built in late Eastern Han dynasty (25-220CE), prospered in Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 CE) and reached its peak in Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907CE), when it was honored as a royal temple. It became considered a member of the “Holy Land of Buddhism” because the finger bone relic of Sakyamuni was placed in it.”
5. Jokhang Temple
“Jokhang Temple, located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa, is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan pilgrims. Every day, pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek a long distance to the temple. They make butter lamps with yak butter, or honor the deities with white scarves while murmuring sacred mantras to show their pieties to the Buddha.”
6. Kumbum Monastery
“Located about 26 from Xiqing, Kumbum Monastery (or Ta’er Monastery) is the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The temple is noted for its cultural activities, including the monastery fair, during which monks can learn scriptures and enjoy recreation.”
7. Labrang Monastery
“Labrang Monastery was founded in 1709. Located in Xiahe County, Gansu province, Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region. It is an important monastery of the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect.”
8. Jinci Temple
“Jinci Temple is located 25km southwest of Taiyuan City. Jinci Temple was built before the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). It is famous for its historical cultural relics and beautiful landscape. The best known structure at Jinci is the Hall of the Holy Mother, which was constructed in 1032. It has carved wooden dragons coiled around the eight pillars that support its upward-curving double-eaves roof.”
9. Hanging Temple
“Hanging Temple (or called Xuankong Si) is a temple built into a cliff 75m above the ground near Mount Heng. It is on the list of the “World’s Top 10 Most Dangerous Architectures” chosen by the Time Magazine of United States. It is also the only existing temple in China where you can see Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in one place.”
10. Guandi Temple
“Located in Yuncheng City, Shanxi Province, Guandi temple was built to commemorate Guan Yu, a fighting hero, who was reputed to be immortal. There are numerous Guandi temples nationwide, but the Xiezhou Guandi Temple is the most famous and largest one.”