Jade is Chinese national pride, and it seems like Shanghai’s Jade Buddha Temple (Yu Fo Si, 玉佛寺) was built to celebrate the precious stone.
Jade in China is not just a stone, for as much precious as it can be. It’s also considered to bring good luck and even to have a positive influence on the heart, and this is why many women wear a jade bracelet so that they receive the stone’s benefits through their wrists.
This is the year of the Rabbit, and every person who was born during the year of the Rabbit is advised to wear a piece of jade for twelve months in order to chase the bad luck away, and this applies for each and every figure of the Chinese calendar.
At Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple, for sure, there was no lack of jade.
Two huge white jade Buddhas were brought from Burma by a monk of Putuo Shan, one sitting, not possible to photograph, two meters big, 205 kg, embellished with agates and emeralds, and one reclining, about one meter, representing his peaceful entry in the nirvana. The precious statues attract every day many tourists and probably as many faithful.
In the temple there is also another reclining Buddha, much bigger than the original one, four meters long, lying on the right side with the right hand supporting the head and the left hand placed on the leg, in a typical position that inspires tranquility, brought from Singapore by the tenth abbot of the temple in 1989.
Even though the temple is not too old, it was built in a pretty traditional architectural style. There are several halls to be visited and whether you are a Buddhist follower or not, it’s a great experience and absolutely one of the favorite Shanghai attractions.
Devajara Hall, Mahavira Hall and the Jade Buddha Tower form the main structure of the temple, while the sides are the Kwan-yin Dian Hall, the Amitabha Dian Hall, the Zen Tang Hall, the Dining Room and the Reclining Buddha Hall. The Sitting Buddha is in the Jade Buddha Tower alongside more than 7,000 Dazang sutras and the two Reclining Buddhas are in the Recumbent Buddha Hall.
There are also many ancient paintings and Buddhist scriptures distributed in the different halls of the temple, all contributing in making the sanctuary of western Shanghai even more precious.
Founded in 1882, the temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty and rebuilt where it is now in 1928. Apart from the two jade statues, the temple has many other statues in display, certainly less valuable, but all of them adding color and atmosphere.
The temple is very big, and I loved dawdling about its circle doors stumbling on orange-clad monks here and there. Like all temples in Shanghai, the contrast between the old-looking classical style is in striking contrast with the state-of-the-art urban architecture of the city. In many halls there are shops selling relics and incense for the worshipers to burn. The ever-present crowd of tourists doesn’t refrain the many faithful from going to worship their gods.
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Practical information on how to reach Jade Buddha Temple:
The temple is in 170 Anyuan Road (Anyuan Lu, 安远路), at the junction with Jiangning Road (Jiangning Lu, 江宁路). The easiest way to get there is by metro, line 7, Changshou Road station(Changshou Lu Zhan, 长寿路站). Take exit 5 and head east along Xinhui Road (Xin Hui Lu, 新会路). Turn right on Jiangning Road and walk to the temple at the crossroad. You can also take metro line 13, Jiangning Road Station, exit 4, then some 5 minutes walk.
Alternatively, you can also arrive by bus, 19, 206 and 738 and get off in Jiangning Road at the crossroad with Anyuan Road. The only problem with buses in Shanghai is that most of the time they only show the streets in Chinese characters, both on the bus and at the stops, so you would need to be either confident with the city or able to read Mandarin.
Opening hours of Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple: Daily 8 am-5 pm, at 4.30 pm is the last admission.
Entry fee for Shanghai Jade Buddha Temple: 20 Yuan.
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