Huayan Temple

Huayan Temple Huayan Temple

Huayan Temple, is located on Daxi Street on the south western side of Datong City, Shanxi Province, got its name because it was a major temple of the Huayan sect, a sub-category of the Buddhism. As one of the biggest temples in China, Huayan Temple is worthwhile for a visit. The temple was originally built in the Liao Dynasty (916-1125 AD), as an ancestral temple to the imperial family, but it was changed into an important Buddhist temple in the ensuing Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD). The temple saw the prosperity in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD), when the large-scale renovation for the temple was completed. The temple is divided into two parts.  
 
The Upper Temple has various halls, the largest of which is the Grand Hall (Daxiong baodian) which houses five large Buddha statues, 26 guardians and numerous attractive murals from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). The Lower Temple is smaller than the upper. The main room contains some statues and heavenly deities from Liao Dynasty. Emperors in the Liao Dynasty sincerely believed in Buddhism, so they built many monasteries. The Huayan Temple was originally the ancestral temple of the imperial family, offering sacrifices for emperors of the Liao Dynasty. In the middle period of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the temple was divided into two parts, the Upper Huayan Temple and the Lower Huayan Temple and was renovated and enlarged several times to its present form.

Now, the upper and lower temples are connected together, but each has a main hall. The main hall of the Upper Temple is the Hall of Sakyamuni. It was first built in the Liao Dynasty and renovated in the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234). Occupying an area of 1,553 square meters (about 0.4 acres) it is one of the largest Buddha halls of the Liao period still in existence in China. In the middle of the hall, there are five sculptures standing in a row at the bottom of a lotus flower. Another twenty sculptures of gods, standing bowing to show their respect accompany the five main gods. Paintings on the wall depict sutra stories. The total area of the well-preserved color frescos is 890 square meters (about 0.2 acres) which is rare in China. On top of the hall are color paintings from the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasties (1644 - 1911) portraying dragons, cranes, flowers, all of which are images often found in Chinese legends on Buddhism.  
 
The Lower Temple is simple and unsophisticated. Its main hall is the Bhaga Repository Hall in which Buddhist sutra is kept. The wooden library containing the Buddhist scriptures is exquisitely and elaborately designed. There are thirty-one sculptures in the hall among which the Bodhisattva with a pious prayer pose is the most famous; it possesses a lifelike human likeness rather than that of a god.  

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