The Wofo Temple (Wofo Si), also called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is located at the north foot of Western Hill (Xishan), about 30 kilometers west of Beijing. The Wofo Temple is one of the ancient Buddhist temples in Beijing, and is famous for a huge bronze statue of the reclining Buddha which is one of the biggest and heaviest bronze reclining Buddha in China.
The Wofo Temple was first built in the 7th century at a cost of 5 million taels of silver. Originally the temple contained a sandalwood sculpture of the reclining Buddha. When it was renovated and expanded in the Yuan Dynasty, a huge bronze statue of the reclining Buddha was cast. So the temple was popularly called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. But now we can only see the bronze statue of the reclining Buddha, the sandalwood sculpture of the reclining Buddha was unfortunately nowhere to be found.
As a classical Buddhist temple complex, the Wofo Temple has a compact overall arrangement. Its three courtyards form a central axis, with the various buildings aligned symmetrically on either side of the central axis. The main buildings of the temple include the Devaraja Hall (Hall of the Heavenly Kings), the Hall of the Buddhas of the three Worlds, the Hall of the Reclining Buddha and the Repository of Buddhist Scriptures.
The way leading to the temple is lined by towering ancient cypresses. At the main entrance of the temple stands an ornamental archway, which is made of marble and crowned with glazed tiles of various shapes and colors.
In the centre of the first courtyard is a little pond with a stone bridge spanning it. The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower stand on either side of the pond.
In the second courtyard lies the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, in which a sitting statue of Maitreya Buddha is in the middle and four heavenly kings are on the two sides of Maitreya. The Hall of the Buddhas of the three Worlds, located beyond the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, houses three Buddhas: Burning Lamp Buddha, Sakyamuni and Maitreya.
The Hall of the Reclining Buddha which contains the famous statue of the Reclining Buddha is the most important hall in the temple. The bronze Buddha is 5.3 meters long and 1.6 meters high, weighing 54 tons. The casting of this enormous statue required 250,000 kilograms of bronze and 7,000 laborers. The statue of the Buddha is in a reclining position, with his left arm stretching out along his left side and his right hand supporting his head. It was said that this pose is that of Sakyamuni when he got nirvana (‘nirvana’ means the ineffable ultimate in which one has attained disinterested wisdom and compassion in Buddhism.). Around the Reclining Buddha are twelve smaller statues. This group of statues represents a scene in which Sakyamuni was giving instructions to his twelve disciples under the Bodhi tree on his deathbed. To make the setting conform to the story, several Bodhi trees were planted in the temple. The Bodhi tree has long, narrow, dark-green leaves and its white flowers blossom in late spring and early summer and they resemble myriads of little white jade pagodas hanging upside down amidst the dark leaves.
The Repository of Buddhist Scriptures lies beyond the Hall of the Reclining Buddha. To the west of the Temple, there is a peony garden of an area of more than 10,000 square meters. More than 2,000 peonies are planted here.
Address: Wofosi Road, Haidian District, Beijing. (The Wofo Temple is inside the Beijing Botanical Garden.)