No. 67: Fangguang Temple, Tiantai Shan, Zhejiang

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on August 5, 2013.)

Waterfalls surround Lower Fangguang Temple (下方广寺)
high up on Tiantai Shan, Zhejiang (浙江, 天台山).
September 14, 2011 - My Indian friend Mr. Deep and I booked an extremely expensive taxi to take us up to Fangguang Temple on Tiantai Mountain. When we reached there, I was embarrassed to run into a young man we had met the day before at Guoqing Temple; he had reached Fangguang by local bus for 12 renminbi!

Shaking off the feeling of stupidity, we started down the trail from the touristy area to the temple. Apparently there had once been an Upper Fangguang Temple, but it now seems to be "lost." The temple's name means something like "wide directions," perhaps indicating "spacious"--which it is not. Both the Middle and Lower Temples are squeezed in by the surrounding mountain.

Middle Temple is gloriously surrounded by waterfalls. One of these, the "Shiliang Flying Waterfall," is a wonderful "rooster tail." Even more impressive is the stone bridge that stretches seven meters across it and sits a mere two meters above it. The stone has been undercut to form an impressive arch. It is said that monks used to walk across it in meditation; only 10 inches wide at its narrowest point, it is, sadly but understandably, closed to tourists.

The Middle Temple sits jumbled over the rocks at the top of the waterfall, one room leading unpredictably to another. A trail leads down to the Lower Temple, which covers enough land to conform to the more typical temple layout.

After relaxing near the falls, Mr. Deep and I toiled back up to the parking area and our waiting taxi for the spectacular ride back down to the base of Tiantai Mountain and our hotel.

GPS Info:
  • 29.27241, 121.06250


(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!)
(The placement on Google Maps is incorrect by miles.)


More pictures can be found here.

An arched bridge leads over the strem to Middle Fangguang Temple (postcard above)
Waterfalls at one corner of Middle Fangguang Temple
The front gate of Lower Fangguang Temple
Shiliang Flying Waterfall and natural bridge near Lower Fangguang Temple
Lower Fangguang Temple shows a typical layout when viewed from above

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