No. 132: Chongshan Temple, Taiyuan, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on May 18, 2015.)

Thousand-Armed Guanyin (千手观音), Chongshan Temple (崇善寺), Taiyuan, Shanxi (山西, 太原市)

August 31, 2012 - Chongshan ("Esteeming Virtue") Temple is squeezed into the alleyways east of the river and not far from the railway station in Taiyuan, capital city of Shanxi Province. It is just north of the city's well-preserved Confucian Temple, and the pleasant streets around hold plenty of surprises. My visit was during the huge Ghost Festival ceremonies, so the narrow lane in front of the gate was crowded with vendors and beggars.

Chongshan was founded in the Tang, had its layout completed in the Ming, and burned nearly to the ground in the Qing (1864). Most of the construction is new (some of it very new), but it is claimed that the main hall is from the Ming.

That hall is named "Great Mercy" for the statue of Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara), Bodhisattva of Compassion, that stands at its center. On either side are two other colossal statues, of the Bodhisattvas Puxian (Samantabhadra) and Wenshu (Manjushri). This is the only place I have ever seen these figures portrayed with a "thousand arms," a feature usually reserved for Guanyin.

The statues are one of the "Three Treasures of Chongshan Temple." The others, also found in the main hall, are a pair of ancient murals, and a collection of sutras. Unfortunately, I was only able to enter the hall during a lunch break in the chanting, and the murals were covered by memorial banners.

One more interesting feature was the small performance stage, located near the back gate opposite the newly-built hall dedicated to the Dragon King. Both are features more commonly found in Daoist temples.

When I left the temple, I strolled south past the Confucian Temple and peeked into the massive gate of Huang Miao, another Confucian or Daoist temple. But it was getting late, so I didn't really enter the grounds.

GPS Info (Click the link to view the map):
  • Chongshan Temple: 37.86676, 112.57991
  • Huang Miao: 37.86676, 112.57991


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


More pictures can be found here (Chongshan) and here (Huang Miao).

The front gate of Chongshan Temple is squeezed into an alleyway.

Devotees line up for lunch during a break in the Ghost Festival services.

This performance stage is an unusual sight in Buddhist establishments.

These three colossal statues of Bodhisattvas together
constitute one of the "Three Treasures" of the temple.

The Main Gate (大门) may be the only authentic remnant
of Huang Miao (皇庙), Taiyuan, Shanxi (山西, 太原市).

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