Buddhist Lectures and Temple Visits by SACS with James Baquet – May 12, 19, and 21, 2011.
Compared to other cities in China, Shenzhen is sometimes considered to be relatively new. In fact, first-time visitors may not easily find the metropolis infused with as much character or soul. But even though it’s not as historically-inspired, so to speak, as other busy urban areas, it still carries a fair touch of culture and spirit within its borders. The Buddhist temples in Shenzhen are a vivid testimony of that.
A must-visit place of worship is the Hong Fa Temple, arguably the only major Buddhist temple in Shenzhen. Nestled right inside the Shenzhen Xianhu Botanical Garden, a picturesque property sprawled in the Wutong Mountains, it is composed of innovatively-designed series of terraces that makes for a leisurely exploration. The first level is primarily a courtyard with a screen wall lining it. The next level features a number of shops, while the third one highlights the Happy Buddha in the Heavenly Kings Hall. The fourth level allows guests to come across a utility hall but no area for worship; you’d have to ascend to the fourth level for that, where the Treasure Hall – more popularly referred to as the Buddha Hall – is located. Finally, at the highest level is a scripture repository.
Since Hong Fa Temple is just one of the botanical garden’s many features, you could easily lose a day discovering all the myriad attractions the park has to offer. Another thing you shouldn’t miss is the scenic Fairy Lake, which understandably draws many people. Now, for those who want to make a quick stopover, a vegetarian restaurant situated next to the temple serves lunch.
Another ancient attraction is situated in the western part of Shenzhen in Chiwan Village. It’s called the Tianhou Temple, also sometimes called Matsu. The word Matsu pertains to the goddess of fishermen, and as traditionally known by Asians its name carries the meaning ‘Mother of Heaven.’ This worship temple, built way back 1410, provides a good overview of Chinese religion and its people. Just a few distance away is the Royal Tomb of Song Shao who died in 1279, the last emperor of the famous Southern Song Dynasty.
If you venture into Shenzhen’s northwestern part, you’ll see two small temples with their respective legends on how they were built. The small but popular Phoenix Mountain Temple, constructed by a General from the Southern Song Dynasty era, and the Dragon King Temple, well-known in Chinese folk tales. These Buddhist temples in Shenzhen have had amazing turnover of tourists and worshippers – and for good reason. Apart from being notable religious landmarks, they also have intricate and detail-oriented design for anyone to marvel at.
For further reading:
Places of Worship in Shenzhen (Catholic and Protestant)
Islam in China: Visiting the Mosques in Shenzhen
Other Related Topics:
SACS Spring Temple & Garden tour
Xianhu botanical park