The largest and busiest Buddhist temple in Shanghai, Longhua Temple (Longhua Si) is especially famed for its elegant 10th-century pagoda and beautiful peach blossoms.
History of Longhua Temple
Said to have been founded in 247 AD in the time of the Three Dynasties (238-51), the present Longhua Pagoda dates from 977, during the Song Dynasty. The other temple buildings were first built in 687 and rebuilt many times since. Most of those seen today date from the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty (1875-1909).
The area around the temple was used as a prison and execution ground for Communists prior to the Liberation; this is commemorated with a memorial on the west side of Caoxi Road.
What to See at Longhua Temple
The largest temple in the city, the Longhua Temple complex is often crowded with devotees bringing incense to the Buddha images. In the spring, it also fills with admirers of the temple's famous peach blossoms.
The lovely Longhua Pagoda (977) is not open to visitors due to its age and fragility and can only be admired from a distance. Made of wood and brick, the delicate octagonal structure has seven stories, each topped with upturned "flying eaves" of gray tiles, from which tiny bells are suspended. It was once the tallest structure in Shanghai, but the great skyscrapers rise far above it now.
The rest of the temple centers around four main halls dating from around 1900. As at the Jing'an Temple, they are: the Maitreya Hall; the Hall of the Heavenly King; the Grand Hall; and the Three Sage Hall.
The most impressive is the Grand Hall (Daxiong Bao Dian), which contains a gilded statue of the Buddha flanked on each side by 18 arhats (disciples), all under a beautifully carved dome. Also here is an elaborate sculpture of Kwan Yin presiding over a symbolic depiction of the process of reincarnation.
In the Three Sage Hall, three incarnations of the Buddha sit beneath a swirled red and gold dome. Along the side corridors is a room filled with 500 small golden statues of arhats.
Near the entrance to the temple is a three-story bell tower (Zhong Lou), whose 3.3-ton bronze bell rings out at midnight on western New Year's Eve. The bell is struck 108 times - the most auspicious number in the East - to bring good fortune to mankind. Visitors can strike the bell (limited to three times) for a fee of ¥50.
The temple compound includes a basic but popular vegetarian restaurant (open 11am-2pm).
Quick Facts on Longhua Temple
|Names:||Longhua Si · Longhua Temple|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||31.176959° N, 121.446605° E|
|Address:||Longhua Lu 2853|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Longhua Temple|
- Frances Wood, Blue Guide China, 2nd ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2001), 278.
- Longhua Si (Longhua Temple) - Frommer's Shanghai
- Longhua Temple - Fodor's Shanghai
Map of Longhua Temple, Shanghai
Below is a location map and aerial view of Longhua Temple. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.