Everyone knows that China is all about temples. There are Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and also Confucian temples. To the untrained eye, most of these look the same, but not all are created equal. I love exploring these different temples and learning all about them as they are a part of the unique Chinese culture.

Here is what makes this temple and pagoda so unique.

1. The temple complex is the biggest temple complex in Shanghai.

Longhua Temple & Longhua Pagoda is the oldest, largest and most majestic Buddhist building in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River Delta, and is also one of the best reserved temples in Shanghai.

Longhua Temple

This hall is surrounded with red lanterns and fresh flowers

2. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Shanghai

Not only is the Longhua Temple the largest temple in Shanghai, but the pagoda is the only one in Shanghai that existed before modern times. It was first built in 242 AD, but because of the several destructions by the wars, most of the buildings in Longhua Temple were reconstructed although the style of Song Dynasty (960-1279) still remains.

Longhua Temple

The smell of insence drifts through the whole temple grounds

3. The 7-story pagoda is a Shanghai landmark.

The lovely Longhua Pagoda (977) is not open to visitors due to its age and fragility and can only be admired from a distance. It is a 7 story red brick and wood, structure and it looks like a delicate Song-era pagoda. You will see this pagoda featured on countless images depicting temples in China.

4. The pagoda used to be the tallest building in Shanghai until modern times

The seven-storied, 40.4 meters high Longhua Pagoda stands in front of the Longhua Temple. Each storey is smaller than the storey below, and all the levels are encircled by balconies and banisters. Bells on each corner of the octagonal eaves make cheerful and lively sounds as the wind passes by. Unfortunately modern buildings tower over this beautiful structure now.

Longhua Temple

One of the many beautiful statues found throughout the temple

5. The Room with 500 Golden Statues

Just outside of the main entrance of the third hall called the Daxiong Baodian where there is a big golden sitting Budda statue, there is a side hall where you can see 500 little gold statues arranged in rows. They shine and glitter in the light. From the austere courtyard with the smoke of fires and burning incense, the golden and bright statues are a striking contrast.

6. The Grand Hall of the Great Sage (Daxiong Baodian):

The halls in the temple were built strictly according to the traditional Buddhist symmetry that are neat and equitable in layout, magnificent and dignified in architecture. The most impressive hall is the Grand Hall of the Great Sage. In it, there is a big golden statue of Buddha along with several statues of arhats. The Longhua Temple complex is often crowded with devotees bringing incense to the Buddha images. Chanting music is played, and people bow and kneel in front of them.

What is your favourite temple in China?