Located in Yuzhong District, Chongqing Arhat Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist Temples in China, and is now the seat of the Chongqing Buddhism Association.
The Arhat Temple (Luohan Si), originally known as Zhiping Temple, was built during the Ziping reign (1064-1067) of the Northern Song Dynasty, and rebuilt in the 1752. In 1885, the abbot of the temple, Longfa, built the Hall of 500 Arhats; the temple then changed its name to Arhat Temple.
A notable feature of this century-old temple is the corridor flanked by ancient rock carvings found just after you enter the complex. With a length of more than 20 meters, there are altogether over 400 statues of Buddha inscribed on rocks in Song Dynasty.
Now, the Mahavira Hall of the temple houses 16 Buddhist statues – the 16 best students of Sakyamuni. There are also Ming Dynasty bronze statues of the Three Sages of the Western Pure Land (Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva), a jade sculpture of Shakyamuni of Burma, as well as the copy of the Indian mural about the story of Sakyamuni becoming a monk.
The main attraction of the temple is the Hall of Five Hundred Arhats, where you are guided anticlockwise by a rope handrail through a maze of 524 brightly painted and life-sized clay arhats. The arhat statues were remodeled in 2008, about 1.5 meters high and 35-40 kg each. The new design for the statues features moisture-proof and insect-proof. The craftsmen used hemp as the base material around a hollow shell, then painted them with layers of Chinese lacquer and covered them with gold foil. All the figures are distinctive and their vivid postures embody exquisite craftsmanship.
The Repository of Buddhist Scriptures houses a large collection of Buddhism classics, classical works in Sanskrit and Tibetan languages, and other old books, handwritings and paintings. Most of the valuable works were created in the Tang (618-907) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties.
Once home to 70 monks at its peak, the Arhat Temple is now sandwiched between skyscrapers. But a small community of monks is still active here, and it is a popular place of worship in Chongqing.
The Chongqing Arhat Temple has a great vegetarian restaurant, with many Buddhist style dishes that are imitated meat dishes made from different types of soy product. You can get all the wonderful spices of Chongqing here without the meat. The restaurant is open to the public for lunch. No English is spoken in the restaurant, but a picture menu is available.
Address: No. 7 Luohansi Street, Yuzhong District, Chongqing.
From Liberation Monument, walk north-east along Minzu Road and turn right at the end of the street. Keep going straight and you will come to Luohansi Street just after you pass Carrefour.