This sprawling Buddhist monastery and temple is a truly fascinating place due principally to the amount of activity going on here. In addition to the hordes of worshippers and tourists, you’re also likely to see groups of monks in active worship and students attending lessons. The Wenshu Monastery is quite an important one – one of the top-ranking Zen Buddhist temples in China. Originally known as Xin Xiang Monastery, it was first built in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and variously prospered and stagnated over the following centuries before being destroyed completely at the end of the Ming Dynasty. The present-day monastery took shape at the very end of the 17th Century when the temple was rebuilt under the guidance of prominent Buddhist monk Cidu Haiyue. It was renamed Wenshu Monastery in honor of the monk who was believed to carry the spirit of the Manjusri (Wenshu) Bodhisattva.
While many of the buildings are quite exquisite and are adorned with lovely, intricate relief carvings, the monastery is also renowned for housing an impressive range of precious relics including old statues, paintings, scriptures and calligraphy by some famous artists. There are beautiful, tranquil gardens around the periphery of the temple complex and interesting information about Buddhist philosophy is posted around the temple. But ultimately it is the hustle and bustle of the Wenshu Monastery that makes it a must visit. The tea house and vegetarian restaurant in the complex provide perfect vantage points to take it all in.
Admission: ¥5. Open: 8:00-18:00.
Address: 15 Wenshu Yuan Jie (east off Renmin Zhong Lu). Tel: +86 (028) 8693 2375.
Show the taxi driver: 请带我去文殊院, 谢谢。 (Please take me to Wenshu Monastery. Thank you.)