Situated in Wenshuyuan Street in the center of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the Wenshu Temple is the largest and best-preserved Buddhist temple in the city proper of Chengdu. Cultural relics are the highlights of Wenshu Temple.
The Wenshu Temple was first constructed in the Sui Dynasty and was originally named “Xinxiang Temple”. According to the legend, during the Qing Dynasty a monk named Cidu once practiced Buddhism here. Upon his death and cremation, the image of Wenshu (Manjusri), the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, appeared in the flames, making people believe Cidu was the reincarnation of Manjusri. So the temple was renamed the Wenshu Temple (Temple of Manjusri).
The present temple was built during the Qing Dynasty, covering an area of 60,000 square meters (14.8 acres). Facing the south, its main buildings, lining on the central axis, include the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Hall of Three Bodhisattvas, Precious Hall of Sakyamuni, the Buddhist Lecture Hall, the Repository of Buddhist Scriptures and newly-built Wenshu Pavilion, all with pretty tiled roofs, carved eaves and beautifully painted ceilings.
At both side of the temple, there are Bell Tower and Drum Tower, Guest Room, Vegetarian Room, and the Buddha Recitation Hall, and so on, forming an enclosed courtyard. In the three eaves style Bell Tower, there is a bronze bell weighting over 4,500 kg.
The Wenshu Temple contains a great number of Buddhist cultural relics, including:
- 450 Buddhist statues made of bronze, iron, clay, wood and stone, in various sizes and shapes. In particular, the white-jade statue of Buddha brought back from Burma by a Buddhist monk in 1922 is of high cultural and artistic value.
- Diamond Sutra (Song embroidery).
- The 1,000-Buddha cassock, embroidered by Concubine Tian of Emperor Chongzhen of the Ming Dynasty.
- Avalokitesvara Gazing at the Moon Reflected in the Water, embroidered by the daughter of a General-Governor of the Qing Dynasty with her own hair.
- Portrait of Manjusri, embroidered by a famous embroider of Jiangsu Province in the Qing Dynasty.
- The broken skull of Tang Xuanzhang, an eminent monk of the Tang Dynasty. To the many Buddhist worshippers who come to pray, perhaps the most important relic is the skull of Tang Xuanzhang.
- Buddhist Scriptures on pattra-leaf in Indian Sanskrit.
- The gilded sutra tube of Japan.
- The paintings and calligraphic works by the famous painters and calligraphers of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
One new attraction of the temple is the newly-built Peace Pagoda of A Thousand Buddhas, which has 11 stories with a height of 22 meters, and decorated with small yellow bells hung on each of the six upturned corner eaves of every story. Blown by the wind, the bells give out melodious sounds. It is the tallest iron pagoda in China.
In the temple you can see the bustling crowd of worshippers, as well as monks in their daily life. Together with the exquisite relief carvings that decorate many of the buildings in the complex, they render the Wenshu Temple well worth a visit.
1. In the temple, there is a charming teahouse with bamboo chairs and tables, which is one of the largest and most famous teahouses in Chengdu and offers an insightful window of local people’s life. You can have a nice cup of tea here or just sit and contemplate the tranquil surroundings.
2. The vegetarian restaurant next door to the teahouse offers traditional meat-free Buddhist dishes.
3. The streets outside the Wenshu Temple are lined with teahouses, snack stalls, and shops. It’s a fun for a quick wander.