Yongquan Temple is the first of the five largest Buddhist temples in Fujian Province. It is located on the half-way up the Drum Mountain (Gushan or Mount Gu) in Fuzhou City, about 455 meters above sea level.
The Yongquan Temple was first built in 783 during the Tang Dynasty. The Temple is named Yongquan (Gushing Spring) because there is a spring in front of its gate. The magnificent temple is carefully designed, which means you can not see the temple when you are on the hill, and when you enter the temple, the hills are out of your sight. It is considered as the essence of China’s ancient architecture.
Covering an area of 1.7 hectares, the temple maintains its original architectural style of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It has 25 halls of various sizes, including the Hall of Heavenly Guardians, the Main Hall, abbot’s living quarters, Sutra Collection Pavilion, Meditation Hall and Dinning Hall. All of them bear carved and painted decorative patterns. The grand structures in the temple rise from the Grand Hall up the mountainside one after another amidst ancient trees and streams fed by spring water.
There are three invaluable state treasures being housed in the temple – the pottery pagodas with a thousand Buddhas, Buddhist classic printing plates and Buddhist scriptures written in blood. Yongquan Temple is also famous for its “Three Irons” (iron tree or sago cycas, iron pot and iron wire wood) which are in the temple as well.
Flanking the entrance to Yongquan Temple, the two pagodas were built in 1082 during the Northern Song Dynasty. The pagodas were made of best-quality clay and coated with a brown-red glaze. As a result, their surface is glossy. The pagodas, in an octagonal shape, are 7 meters high with 9 tiers. Every tier has a row of niches with Buddha statues, numbering altogether 1,038. There are also 72 Buddha statues and 72 pottery bells on the eaves of the pagodas. The pagodas are the only such pair existing in China. They are the first treasure in the temple.
Yongquan Temple has a number of sutras, with a collection of nearly 10,000 Buddhist classic printing plates from the Ming Dynasty onward, which are the second treasure found in the temple. There are nearly 30,000 Buddhism writings in all ages. Among them, 657 volumes of Buddhist scriptures written in blood by brilliant monks are the third treasure in the temple. The monks pricked their own fingers and wrote the classics with their blood.
The main hall is magnificent and majestic. In the middle of the hall, there stand three Buddha. Beside the Buddha stand the Eighteen Arhats. They are different in facial expression and gesture.
In the back of the main hall, there is a three-sage statue, which weighs about 1.15 ton. In front of the statue, there is a sacrificial table made of iron wire wood. It is said that the table be burned by fire nor rotted by water, and get moist on cloudy days. This table is one of the “Three Irons” in the temple.
The second one is the three iron trees before the temple. They are more than a thousand years old and still bloom every year. The third refers to the big iron pot, which is 0.8m deep and 1.67m in diameter in the kitchen of the temple. It can serve nearly 1,000 people.