Dafo Temple, Guangzhou
2013-January-7 Source: Szdaily web edition
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Images of arhats painted on tile in the main hall of Dafo Temple, Guangzhou.

Sometimes researching Chinese temples can be a bit confusing. Because I lack Chinese language skills, I always start with English sites, then go to Chinese with the help of a translation program.

So it took me quite a while to solve a mystery: I had seen references to the "Five Great Temples of Guangzhou." Then I found references to only four. And then five again.

Puzzled? I was. Here's the solution: As nearly as I can tell, there were in fact Five Great Temples until the end of the 19th century: Liurong Temple, Guangxiao Temple, Hualin Temple, Haizhuang Temple, and Changshou Temple. Then, in 1905, the last of these was razed; as I've mentioned before, the Hualin Jade Market now stands on the site, and all that remains of the former temple is the name Changhou Street.

So there were only four. Then at some point — perhaps as recently as the 1990s — another temple was named to round out the five. That temple is the ancient but newly rebuilt Dafo (Great Buddha) Temple.

When I last visited the site, there was a lot of construction going on. It's a short walk from Liurong Temple, which in turn is near Guangxiao Temple, so the three can easily be visited in a day.

The main attraction is the main hall, the only surviving building from the old days. Its three large Buddha statues, however, are only a few decades old. Other nice features in the hall are the paintings-on-tile of the 18 Arhats.

The rest of the temple is composed of small halls. A weekend visit reveals a very active temple life in the heart of old Guangzhou.


Editor: Jecey
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