No. 78: Guanghua Temple, Putian, Fujian

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on November 4, 2013.)

These small Buddhas (佛) are on the side of a small pagoda (塔)
at Guanghua Temple (广化寺), Putian, Fujian (福建, 莆田市).
October 28, 2011 - It took quite a while--over an hour--to catch a taxi from the more remote Cishou Temple, but once I did, it was a relatively short ride to my second temple of the day, Guanghua Temple.

Guanghua ("Spreading Transformation") Temple dates back to the sixth century, though it has been completely destroyed and rebuilt at least three times in its long history.

The temple is well-known for its missionary efforts, having established numerous overseas branches. According to one source, there are "seven branches in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia." These overseas branches have in turn supported the reconstruction and expansion of Guanghua Temple in recent years.

The temple's most outstanding feature is the five-story pagoda standing to the northeast. Dedicated to Shakyamuni, the historic Buddha, it was built of stone in 1165. It is richly carved with figures of the Buddha and his disciples, as well as bodhisattvas, arhats, and celestial guardians. The carving is meant to imitate wood, though its true nature is easily seen.

After viewing the pagoda out front, I entered the main gate and made my way slowly up the hillside, visiting halls and pavilions along the way. The temple was nearly deserted on this Friday afternoon in October.

As I left the grounds, I walked along a road lined with statue-makers. It was exciting to watch them painting the final touches on some of the larger figures. Reaching the main road, I quickly caught a taxi to my final temple of the day.

GPS Info:
  • 25.42540, 118.98972


(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!)


More pictures can be found here.

The Shakyamuni Pagoda was built in 1156.
This magnificent wooden Guanyin stands in a rear pavilion.
This Thousand-Armed Eleven Headed Guanyin was in a shop outside the temple.
In another shop near the temple, an artist paints a Buddha statue.

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