When you come to Shanghai, what’s the first thing you think of? I bet it isn’t Buddhism! However, if you are interested in ancient temples like I am, then you will not have missed the fact that some of this city’s most famous landmarks are Buddhist temples. I am familiar with a lot of Buddhist temples and pagodas in Beijing, such as the Lama Temple, but further south in China I am more used to Taoism or even Confucianism.
Longhua Temple is the largest, most authentic and complete ancient temple complex in the city of Shanghai. According to a legend, Sun Quan, King of the Kingdom of Wu, had obtained Sharira relics, which are cremated remains of the Buddha. To house these precious relics, the king ordered the construction of 13 pagodas. Longhua Pagoda (Longhua Ta), part of the Longhua temple complex, is said to have been one of them. The temple was destroyed by war towards the end of the Tang dynasty. A modern restoration of the entire temple complex was carried out in 1954. Interestingly, public executions were held on the site until the 20th century.
I would suggest allocating an hour to visit this temple, and the admission price is 10 CNY per person. Take Subway Line 3 to Longcao Station.
The Jade Buddha Temple is a large complex, with many interesting rooms and halls. The Chamber of Four Heavenly Kings contains the statues of Maitreya, Wei Tuo Bodhisattva, and the Four Heavenly Kings, who represent favourable circumstance. The Great Hall contains many statues, including the Three Golden Buddhas. Regarding these three Buddha statues, the central sculpture is of Gautama Buddha, the left is of Amitabha, and the right statue represents Bhaisajyaguru.
The admission fee for Jade Buddha Temple is 20 CNY (with an additional 10 CNY fee if you want to see the actual Jade Buddhas). Allocate around an hour to see around this temple, although I spent much less time due to the freezing weather. Take Subway Line 7 to Changshou Station (although the temple is a good 10 minute walk away from here).
Jing’an Temple was first built during the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China. The current temple was rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty but, during the Cultural Revolution, the temple was converted into a plastic factory. Jing’an Temple is a good place to escape the hustle and bustle of crowds in downtown Shanghai. The main thing to see here is the Mahavira Hall, which accommodates the heaviest Buddha statue in mainland China, with a weight of around 11,000kg. It was so big that the wall was torn down when it was moved into the hall. With a kind and tranquil facial expression, the Buddha is said to radiate venerability and auspiciousness.
The price for admission to Jing’an Temple is a rather steep 50 CNY, and a further 2 CNY to purchase incense. At least 90 minutes should be allocated to look around this marvellous complex. This temple has its own Metro station – Jing’an Temple Station – which also happens to be a major hub of the Shanghai Metro network, where Line 2 and Line 7 intersect.