No. 131: Xuanzhong Temple, Jiaochengxian, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on May 11, 2015.)

Roof detail, Main Hall at Xuanzhong Temple (玄中寺), Jiaochengxian, Shanxi (山西, 交城县).

August 30, 2012 - I left Wutai Mountain and moved down to Taiyuan, from where I traveled by bus out to Jiaocheng in Luliang, Shanxi--pretty far off the beaten path, and around 50 kilometers from Taiyuan.

Xuanzhong (something like "Mysterious Center") Temple, built in 472, has the distinction of being the founding place of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism, perhaps the most popular in all of China. Chan (Zen) requires serious discipline, but anyone can chant Amitofo, the Chinese version of the name of the Amitabha Buddha. And if they do it with a pure heart, they will attain a place in Amitabha's Western Pure Land upon passing.

The temple itself is not so easy of access. From my bus, I took a taxi the several miles out of town and up a canyon to the temple's parking area. As I got out and paid the driver, in the back of my mind I was already wondering: How would I get back?

But the temple's beauty soon took my mind off my worries. It is a combination of old and new halls, and had some fine murals in its upper halls.

To the west of the temple a small hall sat on its own promontory. Locals told me it was Daoist, not Buddhist, dedicated to the god of the mountain.

On another hill east of the temple was an old pagoda on another height, but unfortunately the pathway up to it was blocked.

With no other options, I started walking the four kilometers back to the main road, where I hoped to catch a local bus into the bus station in town. As so often happens, a kind tourist couple stopped and picked me up, and took me not just to the highway, but the full 8 kilometers or so to the bus station. It was a good day.

GPS Info:
  • 37.5639, 112.08573


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


More pictures can be found here.

The front gate of Xuanzhong Temple

One of many fine murals upstairs

A small Daoist hall sits on its own hill west of the temple.

This octagonal pagoda stands to the east of the temple, next to the road in and out.

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