No. 94: Shangchantang Temple, Jiuhuashan, Anhui

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on May 5, 2014.)

A ceremony was being conducted in the main (and only) hall (大雄宝殿) at Shangchantang
Temple (上禅堂) on Jiuhuashan, Anhui (安徽, 九华山). I watched it for nearly two hours.

June 22, 2012 - Going down the trail from Roushen Hall, I quickly reached my next destination: Shangchan ("Upper Chan [Zen]") Hall.

The public area of the temple consists of just one main hall and a small courtyard behind it. But I was in for a remarkable treat. A memorial ceremony was being conducted on behalf of a laywoman. She sat to the side, and was occasionally called into the chanting by six monks in front of the main altar. I watched for nearly two hours, with one short break to visit the courtyard.

Meanwhile, a parade of tourists passed through the hall, chatting loudly, talking on their phones, even smoking… But as I sat quietly the whole time, I won the friendship of the old monk who tended the hall. He brought me a magazine about the great monk Ren De, who had passed away in 2001.

After the ceremony, I asked permission to take a few photos of the beautiful statuary in the hall. Not only was I permitted, but I was scolded for not shooting some of the "highlights," like a lantern dating back to the Ming Dynasty--"FOUR HUNDRED YEARS!" the old monk shouted.

The rear courtyard held a spring (called "Golden Sands") which was rigged to send forth its water through a vase held by a statue of Guanyin. There were also some nice bas reliefs, as well as a view of the mountains beyond.

Reluctantly leaving Shangchan Tang and the kind monks who maintained their piety despite the distractions, I continued down past several small temples until I reached the main road where my hotel was located. Turning away from it, I poked into a few other temples, large and small, before retiring.

GPS Info:
  • 30.47638, 117.79957


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

The humble entryway to Shangchan Hall on Jiuhua Shan

The magnificent altar inside the Hall

A memorial ceremony is conducted by monks inside Shangchan Hall
The view from the rear compound of Shangchan Hall includes Tiantai Peak
The Golden Sands Spring issues from the vase
in the hands of Guanyin in the rear compound

Several of the temples I passed on the way down can be seen here. For your enjoyment, here are postcard versions of some of them.

These three small temples on the route down from Shangchantang Temple (上禅堂)
show just how compact (and plentiful) the establishments are there.
The courtyard of Jingjie Jingshi (净洁精舍) was fairly
crowded--a sign I was nearing the bottom of the trail.
Jingtu Nunnery (净土庵) was located just next to my hotel.
The gate of tiny Long (Dragon) Nunnery. This place is
dwarfed by the massive Zhantanlin (旃檀林) across the street.

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