Covering an area of more than 40 square kilometers, Xichan Temple complex is situated on the west side of the town of Fuzhou, in Fujian Province. Sitting by the hills of Yi Mountain, legend has it that it was the place where a man called Wang Ba cultivated himself according to religious doctrine and joined the immortal.
Xichan Temple is one of the 5 ancient Temples built around the city of Fuzhou and its current name, which literally means “West Temple”, indicates its location. However, the Temple came under several different names through the centuries, some of them being Qingchan Temple, Yanshou Temple and Changqin Temple.
Besides ancient and modern structures the Temple is also famous for its many and beautiful litchi trees. You need to give this place at least 2-3 hours to get a glimpse of its 36 Halls, Pagodas and Temples. But if you do have more time, half a day would be the proper amount of time to walk around the whole complex and unlock its secrets.
Things to do
Although first built in Tang Dynasty (618-907), Xichan Temple had to be repaired twice during Song Dynasty (960-1279) and most structures were rebuilt in to their present form in Qing Dynasty (1636-1911). However, the complex also includes modern erections, such as Baoden Tower that was built in the late 1980’s.
The Hall of 500 Arhats is the most impressive among the buildings of Xichan Temple complex. Built in Tang Dynasty, this 6 level structure is one of the oldest in the area and a real jewel in architecture design. All six floors are open to the public offering a collection of 500 statues inside the building and some wonderful views of the whole complex from the balcony of each floor.
Jade Buddha Hall, a two story building, that carries a collection of jade Buddha statues and figurines brought from Myanmar, is another famous attraction in Xichan Temple. Downstairs the visitor can admire a 2.3 meter solid jade statue showing Buddha in seated position, while upstairs lays an impressive 4 meter long solid jade statue of a reclining Buddha, which is the largest in China. On the same page is also Guayinge Hall, which houses a huse bronze statue of Bodhisattva (the goddess of mercy). This 29 ton bronze statue that shows the Goddess of Mercy with 1000 hands and 1000 eyes reminds the visitor of Hindu temples.
Baoen Tower is one of the most recent buildings of the complex but also one of the most popular. Built between 1986 and 1990 this 15 floor tower is the highest brick tower in China (67 meters). Although constructed by modern material it has an antiquity look and its walls are engraved with Buddhist stories and decorated with colorful patterns of flower, fish, beasts and insects.
The outdoors of the complex is a great place to get some rest surrounded by beautiful litchi trees. Dozens of litchi trees were planted since the Temple was founded. Although most of the ancient trees were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution there are some trees that are believed to be standing there for hundreds of years, since Tang Dynasty. A peaceful turtle pond next to the Hall of 500 Arhats is the home of some large fish.