Shanxi Buddhist Light Temple, China

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Buddhist Light Temple

The Buddhist Light Temple lies on the Buddhist Light Mountain side among the ranges of the Wutai Mountains in the Shanxi Province, 32 km northeast from the Wutai County town.

The Buddhist Light Temple was built with mountains surround three directions during the time of Emperor Xiaowen in the North Wei period. It locates in the east terrain and faces the west towards which the topography descends. The temple takes its scale along the mountainside and therefore the bases step upwards forming three courtyards.

The buildings of the temple have been carefully designed and set up. There are all over more than 120 halls, chambers and lofts in the temple. As one of the main buildings the Mille Grand Loft have a width of 7 normal room's and a height of 32 meters.

The Main Hall of the temple takes a simple appearance with the columns, tablet, bracket, windows, walls all laid over with not the common colored paints but red earth. Tall trees stand silently in the courtyards for many years and now still calm the visitors with their endless stories.

Besides the ancient temple buildings, there are also many status of Tang period, frescos, rock tablet columns, grave towers, white rocky status in the temple. Among those the two tablet columns are of special value for their octagon shape. One stands in the middle of the front yard, built in the year of Ganfu 4 th, 877 AD. The other stands in front of the East Main Hall, built in the year of Dazhong 11st.

The East Main Hall is the main building of the temple. It lies in the top yard higher than any other buildings with a history started in the year of Dazhong 11 st and lasted for 1123 years. The rocky tablet columns have recorded many great events about the temple happened in the Tang dynasty and now they are regarded as national antiques of great value.

South from the East Main Hall of the temple, there is a grave tower built as the tomb of the founder Master Chuzu during the time of Emperor Xiaowen in the North Wei dynasty. The architecture style was popular in the North Wei dynasty, which can be reflected from the appearance, the partial ornament and the minutia finesses. It is the only building that was set up in the advent of the temple and has lasted to this day.

There are 7 towers on the east hillside of the temple and in the northwest Taping. Four towers were built in the Xunzong period of the Tang dynasty with an old building finesse and a polygon shape which was uncommon in the Tang period and thus the grave tower has just made up for this defect.


Buddhist spread rapidly in the Wutai Mountains during the North and South dynasties in history. And in the Tang dynasty it had achieved its second developing climactic. In the Ming and the Qing dynasties the Wutai Buddhist had boomed for the third time. The Buddhist Light Temple in Wutai has been regarded as the masterpiece of the Tang Buddhist arts.

Being constructed during the time from 471 AD to 499 AD, the temple came to a golden time in the Sui and Tang periods and had even spread its reputation to Japan. In history it had been destroyed in the year of Huichang 5 th as the Emperor Wuzong was strongly against insensible believing including the Buddhist religion coming from abroad. In 845 AD, He ordered the country stop all kinds of Buddhist activities.

But later Emperor Xuanzong came to power, he decided to abandon the restriction and allow people believe and spread this religion. In the year of Dazhong 11st (857 AD), the Buddhist Light Temple was rebuilt and completed as a masterpiece of Chinese ancient architectures. It had taken a very important place in the architecture history of China and even the world then.