Xiangguo Monastery

The Xiangguo Monastery, located in the western section of Ziyou Street (Freedom Street) in Kaifeng, was set up in the sixth century during the Northern Qi Dynasty and came into its prime phase during the Northern Song Dynasty. It was called Xingjian Temple (Flourishing Establishment Temple) at that time. Later, it was destroyed during a war. In 711, a monk built a new one at the site and donated a three-meter-high Buddha statue. The emperor inscribed ' Xiangguo Monastery ' on the plaque of the main hall, hence the name. The temple reached its splendor during the Tang and Song dynasties. It is a popular place where imperial families, Buddhist dignitaries and social celebrities gathered. Numerous activities including Buddhist ceremonies, festivities, ancestor worship were held in the temple.

Xiangguo Monastery (The Temple of Chief Minister)Xiangguo Monastery (The Temple of Chief Minister)

During the Tang Dynasty, China established a friendly relationship with Persia (today's Iran), Dashi (Arab nations) and Japan. At that time, Persian merchants, trading groups and Japanese Buddhist monks and students traveled a long way to Chang'an to visit Xiangguo Temple.

In the Song Dynasty, the temple was favored by the emperor and was expanded to a large scale with more buildings. It became the center of Buddhism and monks from India, Japan and Korea flock here to meet the Chinese emperor.

The Ming and Qing periods saw the decline of the temple. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in1949, there has been an all-round repair and maintaining by the Chinese government, and now it covers an area of thirty mu. Now the place has become a major tourist attraction because of its intact temple buildings and Buddha statues.

Like most of the Buddhist temples in China, the main axis consists of an arch gate, Devajara Hall (Hall of Heavenly Kings) , Mahavira Hall (Daxiong Baodian) , an octagonal shaped hall (Arhat Hall) and the Sutra-Keeping Hall. Side rooms flank the axis on each side. The Octagonal Shaped Glazed Hall consists of two parts--the outside corridor is 9.8 meters high and the central pavilion stands 16.9 meters high. The whole complex features Qing-style architecture.

A wooden statue of a Bodhisattva made in the Qianlong Period of the Qing Dynasty carved out of a gingko trunk and found in the Arhat Hall is most impressive. The Bodhisattva has 1048 hands and on each hand is a small sacred eye. A group carving of five hundred Arhats is also attractive. It is decorated with gold on its surface. The Bell Pavilion is another attraction of the temple, in which stands a huge Bell cast in 33rd year of Qianlong's reign. The Bell is approximately 16.9 meters high and weighs over 10 thousand jin. It is said that the sound of the bell can travel the longest distance when it is struck on a frosty day. Therefore, "Xiangguo Frost Bell" has been regarded as one of the eight beautiful sceneries of Kaifeng.

Admission Fee: CNY 30

Opening Hours: 07:00 to 19:00

Recommended Time for a Visit: 40 minutes

Bus Route: 1, 20, 3 

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