Why is Guiyuan Buddhist Temple special?
First built in the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911) by two monks on the base of Sunflower Garden owned by a poet, Guiyuan Buddhist Temple got its name from Buddhist Chants: “With purity kept in mind, one has the thoroughfare everywhere.” Guiyuan Temple has survived more than 300 years of repeated cycles of prosperity and decline, above all else, it is always leading the other temple in Wuhan with prosperous public worship, flourishing Buddhist ceremony and many pilgrims.
Covering an area of 46,900 sq m with a floor space of 20,000 sq m, the temple mainly consists of Daxiongbaodian Hall, Arhat Hall, Sutra Collection Pavilion and so on. There are five courtyards in the temple: the eastern courtyard, the western courtyard, the southern courtyard, the northern courtyard, and the middle courtyard. The distribution of the temple is in the shape of a cassock. Being through a lot of changes, the temple was extended in the next several decades to reach the present scale.
Guiyuan Buddhist Temple Highlights
The eastern courtyard is the entrance of the temple, in which a large apricot colored door opens towards the east, indicating the importance of forming kind relationships and saving all human beings from sufferings. On the lintel of the door, a tablet is hanging with the name of the temple written on it.
After entering the temple, you can see the northern courtyard to your right, in which the Amitabha, Kwan-yin Bodhisattva, and Dashizhi Bodhisattva are worshipped. Collectively they are called the “three western saints”. The Wenshu Bodhisattva and Puxian Bodhisattva are also worshipped. The Sutra Collection Pavilion in the courtyard has a rich collection of cultural relics of Buddhism, figures of Buddha, religious paraphernalia, stone carvings, paintings, calligraphies, and books from abroad.
In the southern courtyard, the most famous hall is the Lohan Hall. It is also one of the five best Lohan halls in China. The 500 Lohans here are vivid and lively just like real people. They are all identical in size. What is most amazing is that one can never find two Lohans with the same appearance or expression. They are all totally different from each other. Counting Lohans in the courtyard forms an interesting custom in Wuhan. It is said that one can know the disasters and fortunes in the present year by counting the Lohans.
Guiyuan Temple was in fashion for a time although its history was shorter than White Horse Temple, the best Buddhist temple in China. It is famous not only for spreading Buddhism throughout the whole country, but also for perfect architecture, excellent sculpture and rich collections of Buddhist doctrine.