Kaiyuan temple covers an area of 780,000 square meters. Built in the second year of Chuigong of Wu Zetian’ reign in the Tang Dynasty (686BC), so far it has got a history of more than 1300 years. It is a key Buddhist temple and historic and cultural site under the protection of the government.
Kaiyuan temple is most famous for its twin Pagodas, The eastern one is called 'Nation Protecting Pagoda' (Zhengguo ta), and the western, 'Merits and Longevity pagoda' (Renshou ta). They are over 40 meters high, the highest twin pagodas in our country. On both sides of the gate recess of each storey there are relieves of knights, heavenly kings, King Kong and arhats, etc. The twin pagodas still stand there though subject to rains and winds. It is the unique landmark and symbol of ancient city of Quanzhou as well as the precious treasure of stone buildings of ancient China. The eastern pagoda is listed as one of the four stamp pictures of “ancient pagoda of China” in the year of 1994.
The Grand Hall of Great Hero is the principal building on the central axis. It has 86 large stone columns, and therefore is named as one-hundred column hall. It is said that there were purple clouds surrounding the construction sites when the hall was built, thus also called the Grand Hall of Purple Clouds. The giant plaque written with the four characters of “Sang Lian Fa Jie” in the style of Wei inscription above the hall corresponds to the story of mulberry trees bearing lotus flowers.
The field was once a mulberry grove owned by rich man called Huang Shougong, and later it was donated to Master Kuanghu for building a temple. As for this incident, there is a touching legend. Huang Shougong dreamed one day that a Buddhist monk asked him to build a temple here. The reluctant owner replied: 'Only if the mulberry trees in my garden bear lotus flowers.' A few days later, lotus flowers appeared in the grove. He was touched by the immeasurable power of Buddha and donated the mulberry tree grove. In fact, Huang Shougong is a man prodigal of good things. That mulberry tree bore lotus flowers is a strained story as people worshipped the Buddha, whereas the magical legend was relished by people of Quanzhou and passed down generation after generation. Therefore, Kayuan Temple got the good name of “mulberry and lotus power field”.