Bamboo Temple, Kunming

Why is Bamboo Temple so special?

Bamboo Temple is a famous Buddhist temple in Yunnan. These life-sized clay figures are stunning – either very realistic or very surrealistic. Down one huge wall come the incredible surfing Buddhas, some 70 odd, riding the waves on a variety of mounts – blue dogs, giant crabs shrimp, turtles, unicorns. One gentleman has meter long eyebrows; another has an arm that shoots clear across the hall to the ceiling.

Introduction

Legend of Bamboo Temple

During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), Yunnan was a separate country called Dali. One day, while two brothers of royal lineage were hunting in the hills outside Kunming, they spotted a bizarre rhinoceros. With hopes of capturing it, they followed the rhinoceros deep into the woods of Yu’an Mountain where the magical animal suddenly disappeared. Just as they lost sight of the rhinoceros, the brothers saw a group of monks who were unlike any monks they had seen before. When the monks saw the brothers, they vanished in clouds leaving only their walking sticks planted in the ground. By the following day, these walking sticks had become an entire bamboo forest. The amazed brothers knew that they had met enlightened, supernatural beings and, in order to honor them, they built Bamboo Temple in the forest of bamboo.

History of Bamboo Temple

Even though this is a marvelous story, it does not follow the historic record. Account of the Bamboo Temple dates back to the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), but it was during the Yuan Dynasty (around 1280) that a highly renowned monk, who was reputed to have learned Buddhism from central China, gave his teachings that brought great fame to the temple as a spiritual center. After a devastating fire, the Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) rebuilt the Bamboo Temple by adding five pavilions during the late 1880’s. Its most outstanding artistic (and perhaps spiritual) feature is the distinguished, finely crafted statues of the 500 Luohans (Buddhist Arhats, or ‘enlightened ones’) sculpted by the brilliant artist, Li Guangxiu.

What to See in Bamboo Temple?

The Great Buddha’s Hall

The Great Buddha’s Hall sits behind the gate, about 20 meters long, and 12 meters wide. When sculptor designed the series of carvings, they used combination of circle shape and collective march queue, each carving characters were showing their special prowess, speeding across the sky, riding a cheetah to go ahead, which creates a strong sense of dynamic. The whole arhat hall has a single carving and also the series of carvings; there is linear layout also a circular layout, various forms and interactive use made it colorful and the overall effect is perfect. And the carving character’s joys and sorrows, actions are as well as the world.
 

Huayan Pavilion

Pass through the Great Buddha’s Hall is Huayan Pavilion. Huayan Pavilion is about 20 meters long, 10 meters wide, and it is the only well-preserved Qing dynasty Dougong building (a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a cross beam) in Kunming. There are couplets written by scholars Qian Nantu in Qing dynasty and murals drawn by Li Guangxiu, unfortunately destroyed by fire accident in April 1984.In October 1989, under the support of local government and believers, Qiongzhu Temple was reconstructed by fund-raising and held a grand ceremony of Huayan Pavilion consecration. New Huayan Pavilion maintains the original style and features, the and uses reinforced concrete instead of wood double-hipped roof arches, glazed tile, carved wooden doors and windows and so on are in the style of ancient building. The pavilion is in two parts, with a total area of more than 400 square meters. In the middle of lower floor there is consecrating white marble of the “Three Saints of Hua-yen”, the upper floor consecrated the Burmese jade carving Shakyamuni Buddha, about 2 meters high. And in the middle of Huayan Pavilion was hanging a large horizontal inscribed board written “Huayan Pavilion” from Mr. Zhao Puchu.
 

Five Hundreds Arhats

Qiongzhu Temple Five Hundreds Arhats sculptures are created by Sichuan clay sculpture master Li Guangxiu and his disciple who were invited by the abbot monk Mengfo, and they spent “seven years” to work on it with continuous innovation during Qing dynasty Guangxu period 9th to 16th year (AD 1883 to AD 1883).

What to Do in Bamboo Temple?

1. Admiring Architectural Pattern

Bamboo Temple built around the mountain due to terrain. And its layout sits west to east, forming the type of four into the three courtyards. Now Bamboo Temple has three courtyards, the buildings along the axial direction in the order are: Gate, the Great Buddha’s Hall and Yanhua Pavilion. The left and right wing at the Tianwang Hall is Tianlai Pavilion and Sanskrit Pavilion. The left and right wing of the Great Buddha’s Hall is Zushi Palace and Qielan Palace. The rest of temple is the guest room, abstinence room, the monk chamber, the abbot room, incense room, corridor etc.

2. Exploring Buddhist Culture

Bamboo Temple is the first temple of Chinese Buddhist Zen sect into Yunnan. On October 12, 1994, Bamboo Temple was inaugurated and the Buddha statue opened. The abbot of Bamboo Temple, Mingdao Elder, hold the consecration ceremony.

How to Get to Bamboo Temple

1. People can take public bus No. C62 and C63 to Qiongzhu Temple bus stop in the Kunming city, the ticket is 5 yuan / person.
2. People can take bus No.7 and Additional No.7 to Heilinpu in Huangtupo, and then walk to the mountain along the path or transfer to mini bus to Qiongzhu Temple.
3. People can take special bus to Qiongzhu Temple directly in the Kunming Art Theater.

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Travel tips

Fare concessions are granted to religious believers, the elderly, active servicemen, retired cadres, minors, students, disabled persons and children.