No. 107: Yuquan Temple, Dangyang, Hubei

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on September 22, 2014.)

Discarded Arhats (罗汉) at Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺) in Dangyang, Hubei (湖北, 当阳市)

August 5, 2012 - The morning after visiting Guiyuan and Baotong Temples, I took a train from Wuhan to Yichang for a daytrip to Yuquan Temple. This required a bus from the train station at  Yichang back to Dangyang, and from there I hired a local driver to take me up to the temple.

It's a spectacular setting, guarded by a huge government-built Great-Wall-style gate. Inside there are ponds, mountain trails, and numerous halls and monuments.

Legend says the temple began as a monk's hut during the Eastern Han Dynasty, which ended in 220 CE. This would make it one of the earliest Buddhist temples to be built in China. Historically, Master Zhiyi made this a seat of the esoteric Tiantai sect during the Sui Dynasty. (A larger-than-life statue of this "Wise Master," built in 2008, occupies a large platform out in front of the temple.)

The temple itself is painted an unusually deep maroon. The main courtyard holds large lotus ponds in front of well-kept buildings. The statuary in the halls is better than average, and a particularly interesting site is the "Heaven-Above-Heaven Hall" up behind the main compound.

Further up the mountain is a small temple dedicated to Guan Yu; a tomb in Dangyang holds his body (but not his head, which is in Luoyang).

But the real jewel is the delicate iron pagoda in front of the temple's main gate, built in 1061. A "relics palace" was discovered underneath it in 1994 that holds Buddha relics given to the temple by empress Wu Zetian in 677.

After viewing the relic, I made my way out of the temple area and caught a ride in a parking lot, and I reversed my commute back to Wuhan.

GPS Info:
  • 30.78456, 111.68571


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


More pictures can be found here.

The massive government-built gate guards the way to Yuquan Temple

An older, more humble gate on the road to the temple

The delicate-looking Iron Pagoda near the temple's gate

A statue of "Wise Master" Zhiyi in front of the temple

Lotus ponds in front of the deep red halls

The 500 Arhats were being replaced; the old ones were stacked outside.

The "Heaven-Above-Heaven Hall" behind the temple

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