The South Putuo Temple (Nanputuo Temple) is situated in the southeast of Xiamen City, Fujian Province, adjacent to Xiamen University. The temple is the most famous temple in South Fujian and it is also well known among all the Buddhist temples in China.
The South Putuo Temple was first built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It is so named because the Bodhisattva Guanyin is mainly worshipped in this temple, and the temple is in the south of Mount Putuo which is one of China’s Four Holy Buddhist Mountains in Zhejiang Province and is considered the abode of Guanyin.
Standing at the foot of Wulao Peak and facing to the East Sea, the South Putuo Temple is large in size with an area of 25.8 hectares, with beautiful natural scenery. Its grand halls rise up the mountainside one layer upon another. The main structures that run from south to north along the central axis include the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Grand Hall, the Hall of Great Mercy (Avalokitesvara Boddhisattva), and the Sutra Collection Pavilion, all of which are graced with painted brackets and upturned eaves. The Bell Tower, Gongde Tower, Puzhao Tower and other supplementary buildings are arranged symmetrically on either side of the central axis.
The Hall of Heavenly Kings is also called the Hall of the Maitreya. The Maitreya Buddha (Milefo) stands at the center of the hall, smiling graciously all the time with his navel and belly exposed. On the two sides are the Four Heavenly Kings.
The Grand Hall is the central building of the South Putuo Temple, a sacred place for worshipping Sakyamuni (Buddha of the Present), Kasyapa (Buddha of the Past), and Maitreya (Buddha of the Future), and, as well as Avolokitesvara (the Goddess of Mercy or Guanyin Bodhisattva).
The Hall of Great Mercy is an octagonal tower with a very delicate architectural structure, in which four statues of Goddess of Mercy are enshrined in four directions. The statue in the middle sits on a lotus-flower base with two arms. The rest three are the Goddess of Mercy with 48 hands stretching out. Each hand features a miniature scared eye.
The Sutra Collection Pavilion, a two-storey building perched on the highest place in the temple, houses a large collection of Buddhist cultural relics, among which 28 jade statues of Buddha carved with the jade from Burma are the most precious.
Around the temple, many stone inscriptions have been preserved up to now. A huge Chinese character “佛” (which means Buddha) is carved on the Wulao Peak, nearly five meters high and over three meters wide.
Recently, some other structures are added, such as the Pond to Set Free Captive Animals, two Longevity Towers, two pavilions and a Lotus Pond, which are located to the south of the Hall of Heavenly Kings. Between the two ponds is the Seven Buddha Tower, which is composed of seven statues of Buddha, such as Sakyamuni and Kasyapa. The two Longevity Towers are 11 layers high and are built in the style of Buddhist buildings of South Asia, enriching the scenery of South Putuo Temple.
The South Putuo Temple receives an endless stream of worshippers and pilgrims throughout the year. Each year, on February 19-the birthday of Kwan-yin, June 19-the salvation attaining day of Kwan-yin, and September 19-the day when Kwan-yin became a nun, grand ceremonies are held here, and a large number of Buddhists and tourists come here to burn joss sticks, worship Buddha, and pray for health and wealth.
- ADD: No. 515 South Siming Road, Siming District, Xiamen, Fujiang Province.
- Admission: free
- South Putuo Temple serves very good vegetarian food which is known for the poetic names, fresh taste and unique colors of the dishes, making it very popular among visitors.
- The noteworthy Buddhist Institute of South Fujian is located to the left of the temple.
- Behind the temple is Wulao Peak. Standing on the peak, you can overlook the mountains and sea in a distance.
- The famous Xiamen University is right next to the South Putuo Temple.