The Guanghua Temple, also known as the South Mountain Guanghua Temple, lies at the foot of Mount Phoenix, about 2 kilometers south of Putian City in Fujian Province. It is one of four famous Buddhist temples in Fujian, along with Yongquan Temple in Fuzhou, Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou, and South Putuo Temple in Xiamen.
The Guanghua Temple was first constructed in 558. It was originally called the Jinxian Monastery as the first master of the temple is Jinxian. The temple was renovated time and again in the Tang (618-907) and Song (1127-1279) dynasties. The present buildings were rebuilt in the early years of Guang Xu of Qing Dynasty.
The Guanghua Temple conforms to the shape of the mountain it is built on, showing a well-conceived layout. Facing south, the temple covers a land area of over 32,000 square meters and a construction area of 16,000 square meters, with a stone wall that is over one kilometer long. The central axis extends 385 meters from east to west and from the altitude of 25 meters to 63 meters. The architectural structures along the central axis include the memorial archway, the temple gate, the pond for freeing captive animals, Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall, the Dharma Hall (the top of which is the Depository for Buddhist Sutras) and the Hall of Buddhist Patriarch (the top of which is the Sleeping Buddha Hall).
As the main building of the temple, the 22-meter-high Mahavira Hall was built on a base of 2.7 meters in the form of lifting beam. In the middle of the hall houses a 5.8-meter-tall statue of Sakyamuni, which is the tallest statue in Fujian Province.
On the left wing of the temple is a splendid pavilion of Goddess of Mercy, in which an 8-meter-tall image of Goddess of Mercy is enshrined. The Hall of Ksitigarbha was newly built on the right wing of the temple. On both sides of the pond for freeing captive animals and two wings of Bell Tower and Drum Tower, four Halls of Arhats were built. The whole temple is ordered and balanced with the traditional building style of southern Fujian ancient temple.
The Sakya Buddhist Pagoda, standing on the east side of the Guanghua Temple, is a treasure of the temple. With a total height of 30.6 meters, the pentagonal 8-tier pagoda was built in 1165 in imitation of wooden pavilions. It was vividly and meticulously carved, with a hollow inside and coffered ceiling. The stone steps inside allow you to walk to the outside balcony of each tier. It is a marvel that the pagoda stands still after many earthquakes in the past years.