Longhua Temple, or Luster of the Dragon Temple, is the oldest, largest, grandest, and most authentic and complete ancient Buddhist temple complex in Shanghai.
It is a beautiful and important landmark in Shanghai, famous for its artwork, architecture, and religious importance. The 5-acre temple is dedicated to Maitreya Buddha, the future incarnation of Buddha.
Longhua Temple Is Famous for;
- Being the tallest building in Shanghai in olden days.
- Being the biggest and most visited temple complex in Shanghai.
- Its entrance, known for its ancient architecture.
- Its stunning 10th century pagoda.
- Its collections of various sutras, golden seal, and figures of Buddha from Tang, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
- The New Year Bell-Striking Ceremony on 31st December, one of the eight great attractions of Shanghai.
- The peach tree garden and the annual blossom Fair held on the third day of the third month of the Lunar Calendar since its inception from the Ming Dynasty.
History Of Longhua Temple
Longhua Temple is the oldest temple in Shanghai, dating back to over 1,700 years.
- 242 AD: First built during the Three Kingdoms period when Sun Quan, Ruler of the Kingdom of Wu, obtained the cremated remains of Maitreya Buddha and built a pagoda to house them.
- 618 – 907: The current scale of the temple was set during the Tang Dynasty
- 7th to 10th centuries: The complex was destroyed by constant wars.
- 977: Rebuilt along the traditional architecture of the Song Dynasty in power at that time.
- 1586: Its famous copper bell was cast and installed.
- 1636-1911:The temple reached its prime during the Qing Dynasty.
- 1954: Modern restoration of the entire temple complex by the Shanghai Buddhist Association.
5 Halls of Longhua Temple
The layout of the temple is based on the traditional Buddhist Sangharama Five-Hall Style. Five main halls are arranged neatly and symmetrically along a central north-south pointing axis: the Maitreya Hall, Devajara Hall, Mahavira Hall, Three Sages Hall, and the Abbot’s Hall. Each one houses different religious figures and decorations.
- The Hall of the Great Sage: a big golden sitting statue of Buddha and an ancient bell from the 16th century.
- The Three Sages Hall: a statue of Amitabha Buddha and two figures of Buddhist incarnations.
- The Maitreya Hall: a statue of Maitreya Buddha and Budai, another representation of Maitreya in his cloth bag monk incarnation.
- The Heavenly King Hall: statues of the Four Heavenly Kings which are Buddhist figures related to good luck.
- The Grand Hall of the Great Sage: the main hall has statues of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and two disciples. At the back of the hall is a relief carving of Buddha in his female manifestation, and at the front are the twenty Guardians of Buddhist Law, and the sixteen principal arhats.
The five halls are flanked by the accessory Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Other structures include a vegetarian restaurant, a side room with 500 golden statues, the Longhua Pagoda, and the peach garden. The additional Sutras Hall all Halstores various versions of sutras and the Three Treasures of the Temple – the Dazang Sutra from the Ming Dynasty, a Vairocana statue, and a gold seal given by the emperor.
The site of the original gates is marked by two stone lions standing in front of pillars.
The Longhua Pagoda
The 120 ft Longhua Pagoda, built with a red brick cylindrical core and a surrounding wooden staircase, is a distinctive example of the Song Dynasty architectural style. Each of its seven octagonal floors decreases in size as it ascends from the base. Every level has a roof over its balcony, with its upward curving eaves decorated with bells. The balconies have ornamental handrails the tower can’t be visited as it is considered fragile. The Longhua Pagoda is oldest and the most famous in Shanghai.
Opening hours: 07:10- 16:30
Best time to visit: Attend any one of the grand activities, celebrations, and fairs in Longhua Temple (many of which are more than 300 years old): the Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony on 31st December to welcome the New Year; the Spring Festival; the Tomb-sweeping Festival; the busiest festival the Temple Fair in March when the peaches are in full blossom in late spring; the grand Dharma assembly; and celebrations in October.
Note: The Longhua Pagoda is closed to the general public, so you can only see it from outside.
5 Things to Do in Longhua Temple
- Try the steamed bean curd roll and noodles in the Vegetarian Restaurant, which serves basic meals between 11 am to 2 pm.
- You can pay 50 RMB to strike the famous 5 ton, 2 metre high Copper Bell in the three-storied Bell Tower.
- See 500 little gold statues arranged in rows, shining and glittering brightly in the Room.
- Check out the Buddhist Texts Library for its collection of Buddhist sutras, ceremonial instruments, antiques, artworks, and artifacts.
- Visit the various Halls and Rooms housing their namesake statues of Buddhas, disciples, and decorations.
Recommended Hotels Near Longhua Temple
Getting to Longhua Temple
Take Metro Line 11 or Line 12 and get off at Longhua Station. Take exit 2 and walk along Longhua Road to a crossing. Then turn north and walk along West Longhua Road. Then you can see Longhua Temple on the Longhua Old Street at the east side of the road.
Take bus 41, 44, 56, 87, 104, 120, 144, 166, 167, 178, 301, 326, 342, 714, 720, 733, 734, 770, 809, 824, 831, 864, 932, 933, 956, or 957 and get off at Longhua Station.