The Daxiangguo Temple is a very well-known Buddhist temple in Kaifeng, Henan Province, China. The Temple has a long history and it is one of the ten famous temples of Buddhism from Han Dynasty. The Daxiangguo Temple has played an important role in the history of Chinese Buddhism. The Daxiangguo Temple got its name from its owner. It was initially called “Jiangguo” but it was changed by an emperor of the Tang Dynasty into “Xiangguo”.
The Daxiangguo Temple was first built in 555 A.D. the sixth year during Emperor Wenxuan's reign of the Northern Qi period. Then it was rebuilt in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was bestowed the name Daxiangguo Temple by Emperor Ruizong. The temple reached its heyday in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It became an international Buddhism center, attracting many foreign envoys and great monks. It contributed a lot to the cultural exchanges between China and other countries.
When you arrive there, you will be surprised at the magnificent architecture and the well-arranged layout of the Daxiangguo Temple. The existing structures were mainly built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The buildings include Mountain Gate, Paifang, Heavenly Kings Hall, Daxiongbaodian Hall (Hall of Sakyamuni), Arhat Hall and Sutra Hall. They are set on the north-south central axis with some other annexes built symmetrically on both sides.
Stepping through the gate, you will first see the Bell Tower and Drum Tower as in most Buddhist temples. The bell hanging here weighs five tons and is 2.23 meters (7.3 feet) tall. Its grazioso sound echoes all over the city, especially in winter.
The most remarkable structure in the temple is the Arhat Hall, which is also called Octagonal Glazed Hall. Inside the towering Octagonal Pavilion houses a wooden statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, which was carved from the bole of a huge gingko tree during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. The four sides of the statue are of the same sculpt. On each side, there are six big hands and three to four layers of small fanlike hands, with an eye on each palm. The total number of the hands reaches 1,048, so does the number of the eyes. The statue highly embodies the fine works of the Qing Dynasty.
Moreover, lots of activities are held in the Xiangguo Temple every year. For example, lantern exhibitions will be held there during the Lantern Festival, and chrysanthemum exhibitions and other activities will be held at certain season. Pilgrims and visitors come to the Daxiangguo Temple to join these celebrating activities from home and abroad. If you want to experience Buddhism in China, just come and see.