Guangxiao Temple

The site that this temple is built on is thought to have first been used as a palace for a prince of the Southern Yue Kingdom in the 2nd Century BC. The temple itself was founded in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420 AD) by the Indian Guangxiao Templemonk Dharmayas. The Bright Filial Piety Temple has a strong importance to Chinese Zen Buddhism, because it was here in 676 AD that the legendary figure Huineng had his head shaved and became a monk. Huineng was the sixth patriarch of Chinese Buddhism and is regarded as one of the most influential monks in the religion’s history in China. The Sixth Ancestor Hall (behind and to the right of the main Mahariva Hall) was built in memory of Huineng and houses a large statue of the monk. The monk’s hair was supposed to have been buried under the pagoda directly behind the Mahariva Hall.

Other noteworthy structures in the temple include the three lustrous statues of Buddha inside the elegant Mahariva Hall and the two iron towers that stand on the east and west sides of the temple. The West Iron Tower is the oldest such structure in China, dating from 963 AD, but it has unfortunately been damaged and lost some of its height. The East Iron Tower is four years younger and has more than 900 niches housing tiny Buddha statues. Most of the buildings of Guangxiao Temple were reconstructed in the mid-17th Century after a major fire. But the basic layout and structure of many of the halls date back to the time of the temple’s founding. The Bright Filial Piety Temple is a particularly peaceful place. It’s worth wandering the grounds here for a while and taking in all the different halls and pavilions.

Admission: ¥5. Open: 6:00-17:00.

Address: 109 Jinghui Lu. Subway: Ximenkou.

Directions: From the metro, head north along Haizhu Beilu, then turn left into Jinghui Lu.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去光孝寺, 谢谢。地址:淨慧路109号。     (Please take me to Guangxiao Temple. Thank you.)