Why is Shanhua Temple special
Also named as Southern Temple for its location in the southern section of Datong City, the Shanhua Temple is one of the best preserved temples of Jin Kingdom, a kingdom coexisting with Southern Song Dynasty.
Shanhua Temple Highlights
Covering an area of nearly 14,000 sq meters, the Shanhua Temple has three main buildings: the Gate, the Hall of the Three Saints, and the Grand Hall (Da Xiong Bao Dian).
Also called Heaven God Hall, the Temple Gate is 5-bay wide, and 2-bay deep with a single-eave roof and moonlike beam. In the front there is a platform with a pair of stone lions on it. In the left and right side-rooms there are the statues of the Four Heavenly Guardians, which look majestic and furious.
The Hall of the Three Saints
The Hall of the Three Saints (in English also means the Three-Sage Hall) is the middle hall, where presents statues of the three sages of the Avatamsaka Sutra-a central one of Vairocana (the universal aspect of Shayamuni) and two accompanying statues of Manjusri and Samantabhadra.
The hall is 5-bay wide, 4-bay deep, and has a single-eave roof, under which the arch is majestic and typical of Jin arch building. The hall is spacious. In the 2 side-rooms there are 60 inclined arches like a flower in blossom.
The Grand Hall (Da Xiong Bao Dian)
As the northernmost and largest hall, the Grand Hall, with a more official name “the Mahavira Hall” (“Da Xiong Bao Dian” in Chinese pinyin), dates back to the 11th century.
The hall is 7-bay wide, 5-bay deep and has a single-eave roof with 5 ridges. The roof is slightly gradient and in the center of the hall there are 2 sunk panels, inside which are 2 layers of arches. The interior contains four large Buddha statues representing the four cardinal directions, and a central statue representing Sakyamuni.
Other buildings contains Puxian Pavilion and Wenshu Pavilion, the former of which was initially built during the 10th century and rebuilt in 1953, and the latter was destroyed in the early 20th century and rebuilt in 2008.