[Photo by Xing Xudong/chinadaily.com.cn]
The cultural discovery tour to the port city of Quanzhou by a group of diplomats based in China included a wide range of local wonders. The landmark attraction, Kaiyuan temple, was certainly high up on the schedule.
Kaiyuan temple in Quanzhou city is the largest Buddhist temple in Fujian province. It was originally built in 686 AD during the Tang Dynasty. After rounds of repairs and restorations, now most of the buildings in the complex can be dated back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The temple covers an area of 78,000 square meters, with magnificent sight of construction and fine scenery, it had enjoyed the equal fame of the Luoyang Bai-Ma Temple, the Hangzhou Ling-yin Temple and the Beijing Guangji Temple.
The landmark attractions in the temple include the Mahavira Hall, the Ganlu Buddhist Vowing Altar and the two stone towers, Zhenguo Tower and Renshou Tower, that stand respectively on the eastern and western sides of the Daxiong Palace.
The artistic features of the temple’s architecture are influenced by some foreign cultures. For example, the stone carvings on the columns behind the Daxiong Palace are Indian in style, which signifies Quanzhou’s frequent cultural exchanges with the outside world since ancient times.
It has been over 1,000 years since Buddhism was introduced to China, and Kaiyuan temple is one of those places which best exemplifies the essence of Buddhist culture. Due to its uniqueness in architectural style and historical value, it is one of the must-visit attractions in Quanzhou and Fujian province.