No. 113: Kaifu Temple, Changsha, Hunan

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on November 17, 2014.)

Another form of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, this Thousand-Armed Guanyin
(千手观音) is at Kaifu Temple (开福寺), Changsha, Hunan (湖南. 长沙市).

August 12, 2012 - Having moved my base to Changsha, I visited Kaifu Temple, formerly the site of a king's palace. Ma Yin declared himself King of Chu far back in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, which followed the glorious Tang Dynasty.

His son, Ma Xifan, donated the land to a monk named Baoning, who is said to have built the temple in the year 927. It has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times since. Most recently it was brought down in the civil unrest of the early 20th century, and rebuilt by monk Mingzhen in the early years of the People's Republic.

It has been expanded several times since its reconstruction. Since many of the temple's older statues had been destroyed even after that, most of the key images in the temple are new. The main statue is a jade Buddha donated by Burma.

The temple is a stone's throw from the Xiang River, a large tributary of the Yangzi and Changsha's main waterway. It is a place replete with culture. Near as the temple is to the river, it is not surprising that a good deal of the grounds is given over to one sort of pond or another.

August in Changsha is hot and notoriously humid. My camera and lenses had been in my air-conditioned hotel room, then a cool cab. When I took them out at the temple, there was condensation everywhere--on all lenses' surfaces, and even the mirror inside! I had to wait almost an hour before I could shoot, which was worrisome as I had arrived around 4 p.m. Fortunately, the grounds and halls were open until six.

Learn from my mistake: Don't let your equipment get too cool in hot, humid weather!

GPS Info:
  • 28.22357, 112.97775


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


More pictures can be found here.

The elegant main gate at Kaifu Temple

Like many temples near rivers, Kaifu has plenty of water on its spacious grounds.

A large lotus pond contains a rock inscribed with the character for "Buddha."

One of the many new statues at the temple; this one a "Laughing Buddha."

The main statue at Kaifu Temple is a beautiful jade Buddha.

The arhats in the main hall are in an unusual housing.

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