No. 69: Jiangxin Temple, Wenzhou, Zhejiang

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on August 19, 2013.)

Some of the many statues in the main hall (大雄宝殿) at
Jiangxin Temple (江心寺), Wenzhou, Zhejiang (浙江, 温州市).
September 16, 2011 - For the last temple on our trip, Mr. Deep and I took a bus to the bustling seaside city of Wenzhou. Though the city is best known as a business hub, there is an oasis located on an island in its very heart: Jiangxin ("Center of the River," or, more romantically, "River's Heart") Temple. The island it's on is known as one of China's "four famous islets," and is so beautiful it was once rumored to be the home of immortals.

Though it was begun in 1137, the current temple compound dates to the 17th century, and has its share of gorgeous old halls and statues. The collection of miscellaneous figures in the Main Hall is especially fascinating.

One of the unusual features here is that it's hard to know just where the temple ends and the fascinating area surrounding it begins. Around the temple are a hall dedicated to the scholar-general Wen Tianxiang, who spent a month on the island while on the run from Genghis Khan; a magnificent tomb to a recently-deceased monk; a Martyrs' Memorial Hall--all these and more are protected cultural relics.

Most visible, perhaps, are the two pagodas, easily seen from the ferry approaching the island. The West Pagoda dates to 969 in the North Song Dynasty. The East pagoda was built in 869, during the Tang Dynasty. In 1894, the British built their consulate nearby, and, for the sake of "security," they had the roofs and floors stripped from it. A banyan tree now grows from its top, and its roots never reach soil.

The day after visiting this temple, we took the new fast train to Ningbo and flew back to Shenzhen.

GPS Info:
  • 28.026464, 120.646684



More pictures can be found here.

A view of Jiangxin Island, Wenzhou, site of Jiangxin Temple and its two pagodas
The front gate of the temple, with the East Pagoda beyond
The West Pagoda of Jiangxin Temple
 The East Pagoda, with a banyan tree growing on top
A closer view of the East Pagoda

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