Longhua Temple is the largest and the oldest temple existing in Shanghai. The temple had been built in the Song Dynasty. The current temple had been established in Qing Dynasty’s Guangxu period and it contains magnificent statues and Buddhist scriptures from the Qing, Ming and Tang Dynasties.
Longhua Temple along with Longhua Pagoda is the most majestic, largest and oldest Buddhist building in the area. It is also the best ever reserved temple in the city. It is quite an old temple and attracts a lot of people due to the evening chimes, temple fair, old tower, the Buddha figures from Qing, Ming and Tang dynasties, the golden seal and the collection of sutras. The famous Bell Toll is considered by many to be among the Eight Best Sceneries in Shanghai.
According to historians, the Longua Pagoda had been built first during the period of Three Kingdom in 247 AD when the king of Wu Kingdom, Sun Quan, had ordered it built for showing his love to mother. The pagoda is therefore also known as Bao’en Pagoda. The temple’s scale took shape mainly during the Tang Dynasty and it reached its prime during the Qing Dynasty. Because it was destroyed several times in the war, most buildings in the Longhua Temple complex had been reconstructed during the time of Emperor Guangxu and Tongzhi. However, the Song Dynasty style still exists.
Structure of the Temple
Longhua Temple occupies an area of around 20,000 sq meters and the halls there are strictly built according to the ancient Buddhist symmetry. They are equitable and neat in layout, dignified and magnificent in architecture. Along the axis are Sutras Mansion, Abbot’s Hall, Three Sages Hall, Mahavira Hall, Devajara Hall and the Maitreya Hall. The Drum Tower and Bell Tower are accessory halls standing on each side. Both are furnished with curved eaves and hexagonal windows.
Bao’en Pagoda or Longhua Tower is a seven tier tower that stands in front of the temple. It has wooden staircases and brick body and had been reconstructed during the 50s based on its former footing and body from the Song Dynasty. The tower has an octagonal shape outside but square shape inside. Every storey is equipped with banisters and balconies and a bell hangs under each of the octagon eaves to create liquid and cheerful rings with every breeze.
The Temple Fair
Since it is an important Buddhist temple in the city, celebrations and activities in the Longhua Temple are grand and rich. Some of the festivals celebrated here are the October auspicious celebration, Temple Fair, Tomb Sweeping Festival, Spring Festival and New Year’s Festival.
The Temple Fair and the Bell Striking Festival on New Year’s Eve are the most important celebrations and have been celebrated for more than 300 years. In spring, when the peach trees blossom, the Longhua Temple prepares for its busy Temple Fair festival. The Dharma Assembly also attracts a lot of tourists and pilgrims to Longhua Temple each year. Longhua Temple is a vibrant temple during these festivals with a lot of bustle and thousands of visitors from around the world.