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Apart from Buddhist grottoes, mountains, and religious sites like the Leshan Giant Buddha, temples are an important part of China’s Buddhist heritage and culture. There are a lot of famous temples in China with magnificent layouts and traditional Chinese architecture. Many of them date back many centuries. Here are the top temples in China.

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Nanshan Temple, Sanya

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Nanshan Temple looks beautiful against the background of the sea and mountains, and it is regarded as an auspicious place for Buddhism.

Other attractions in the temple include the Golden Jade Guanyin Statue and Sea Watch Terrace. Nanshan Temple is famous as the world’s tallest Guanyin Bodhisattva.

The temple’s buildings nicely reveal features of Chinese ancient architecture, with grand halls, red roofs, and white walls.

Location: Nanshan Buddhist Tourism Area, Sanya, Hainan Island, South China

South Putuo Temple, Xiamen

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The Hall of Celestial Kings, Great Buddha’s Hall, the Hall of Great Mercy, and the Depository of Buddhist Texts also host famous Bodhisattva statues.

The temple hosts a thousand-hand Buddha, golden carvings of the Chinese character 佛 (meaning Buddha), Wulao Peak, and grand and massive buildings.

Location: 515 Siming South Road, Siming District, Xiamen

Famen Temple, Xi’an

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Famen Temple is famous for important Buddhist relics. Some Buddhist artifacts were buried by Emperor Xizongin an underground palace during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). These excavated treasures, including four Bodhisattva statues, and some ceramics and silks, are exhibited in the temple museum.

Famen Temple was built at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220). It is one of the must-see places in Xi’an after the Terracotta Army. The temple is treated as a holy place for Buddhist believers.

Location: Famen Town, Fufeng County, Baoji Prefecture, 120 kilometers west of Xi’an
Official website: Famen Temple

Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

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Jokhang is the holiest destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims and attracts a lot of pilgrims day and night.

It is known to have been chosen as a place of preference by the wife of King Songtsan Gampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng. People belive that the temple was built at the location to counteract evil forces she believed came from the nearby Wutang lake.

It hosts a life-sized Buddha statute and hosts the Great Prayer Festival between January and early March.

Wannian Temple, Mount Emei

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It was initially built in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317–420), then later destroyed by fire, but rebuilt in 1953.

The temple has three treasures: the Beamless Hall, the Puxian Buddha, and the Tooth of Buddha. According to a legend, a special kind of frog resides in the rectangular pond to the temple’s right, and people can hear melodious sounds from the pond in the evening.

Location: On Mount Emei in Sichuan Province, 120 km south of Chengdu

Yonghe Lama Temple, Beijing

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The Hall of Harmony and Peace, the main room of Yonghe Lama Temple, contains three bronze Bodhisattva statues.

During the Spring Festival, a temple fair is held in the temple. Yonghe Temple was initially built as the residence of Emperor Yongzheng (1693) during the Qing Dynasty.

White Horse Temple, Luoyang

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It has several halls: Hall of Heavenly Kings, Hall of Great Buddha, Hall of Guidance, Hall of Mahavira, and Cool and Clear Terrace.

The cradle land of Chinese Buddhism, White Horse Temple was initially built as a summer resort for Emperor Liu Zhuang during the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD).

Official site: White Horse Temple

Daxiangguo Temple, Kaifeng

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First built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577), Daxiangguo Temple was once a worship place for the royal family and hosted national Buddhist activities.

It hosts one of the most outstanding examples of wooden carved art in China – a sophisticated wooden carving statue of the Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) Bodhisattva in an Octagonal Glazed Hall.

Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou

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The halls and pavilions in the temple and the many famous Buddhist statues reveal a grand combination of Chinese ancient architecture and cultural relics. Complemented by a large number of grottoes and religious rock carvings on the adjacent Peak that Flew Hither.

Official website: Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

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Besides admiring the temple’s beautiful architecture, the public has access to the enormous park where they can practice Tai Chi. This martial art style dwells on developing and controlling energy within the body.

You can also just sit and relax as you watch people doing exercises. It is considered the holiest of all imperial temples in imperial China, whose worshiping “heaven” concept predates Buddhism. The structure dates back to 1420 and has been listed as World Cultural Heritage. 

Its design reveals the mystical cosmological laws believed to control the working of the universe and the harmony between “heaven” and earth.

Official website: The Temple of Heaven

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