Longhua Temple - History and Facts | History Hit

Longhua Temple

Xuhui, Shanghai, China

The Longhua Temple in Shanghai is a tenth century Buddhist monastery.

Antara Bate

21 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Longhua Temple

The Longhua Temple in Shanghai is a Buddhist monastery dating back to 977 AD, although a temple has existed on the site since 242 AD. As the largest of Shanghai’s temples, it is a popular site together with its pagoda and 19th century bell.

Longhua Temple history

Longhua Temple and Pagoda is one of the largest and best preserved temples in Shanghai. It was first built during the period of the Three Kingdoms in the third century AD yet the temple was destroyed by war and had to be rebuilt in 977 AD during the Northern Song dynasty. Over the years the temple was destroyed and reconstructed through multiple conflicts, although it mostly retained the style of the Song Dynasty.

There was a major reconstruction effort in 1954. With the help of donations, restoration and upkeep have been focused on, ensuring that the whole complex is well refurbished and decorated.

Aside from the pagoda, the temple contains four main halls, all dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha. Near the entrance of the temple is a bell tower with a 3.3 tonne bronze bell. This bell is struck 108 times every New Year’s Eve to bring good fortune to the world.

In the 19th century, Longhua temple was the site of numerous public executions. In the brief republican period, Kuomintang nationalists used the temple grounds as the backdrop of mass executions of suspected communists in Shanghai.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese operated their largest civilian internment camp in the area of Longhua temple.

Longhua Temple today

Surrounding the temple is an extensive garden, which contains beautiful peach blossoms that bloom every March. The garden is now a part of neighbouring Longhua Martyrs Cemetery. The pagoda features in Steven Spielburg’s film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel Empire of the Sun. The pagoda is no longer open to the public due to structural issues. However, the rest of the active temple complex is available for daily tours.

The Longhua Temple welcomes its busiest festival when the peaches are in full blossom in late spring with the Temple Fair on the 3rd day of the 3rd month of the Chinese calendar. The festival integrates commodities for sale, folk customs, cultural characteristics, traditional food, entertainment and religious activities.

Getting to Longhua Temple

Longhua Temple is accessible by a variety of buses as well as metro line 11 or 12 and the nearest stop is Longhua station. The Temples is on Longhua Old Street at the east side of the road.

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