Metal Compass
Metal Compass

The Temple of Great Compassion – a relic of Tianjin’s Buddhist heritage

Tianjin is one of China’s fastest growing industrial metropolises that still has yet to come out of its charming reverie of dreamy reminiscences and embrace the cosmopolitan modernity of its sibling cities. However, Tianjin doesn’t necessarily have to leave its little retro bubble to attract the notice of international tourists; the city’s history of foreign occupation and indigenous heritage has become a great tourist draw of recent years, not in small part due to its wealth of well-preserved architectural gems such as the Temple of Great Compassion.

This temple is a Zen Buddhist construction of the Shunzi period Qing dynasty, carrying a legacy of over 300 years. It was once the famous final resting place of venerated Buddhist monk Xuanzang and held a sacred relic in the form of his skull. This was later gifted to India in the 1950s and in its place was substituted an image of the monk which is now used for prayers and devotions. The temple, which is located mere minutes away from the Tianjin train station, comprises of two monasteries: the old monastery last refurbished by the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty which includes the Cultural Relic Hall, Chinese Buddhism Association offices and abbot hall, and the more recently added new monastery which consists of four halls and an entrance gate. These four halls are the Main Shrine Hall, which also goes by the name of Daxiong Temple and is the principal building of the complex; the Tianwang Hall, Dabei Hall and Xuanzang’s Memorial Hall. The Main Shrine is also notable for the six ton statue of Sakyamuni carved upon a lotus throne flanked by a retinue of smaller Buddha figures as well as the 12 foot mud statue called “Thousand Hand Kwan-Yin” which is housed there. The Cultural Relic Palace of the old monastery is also a must-see as it features a collection of Buddha statues made from a variety of stones and metals.

This temple can be easily accessed by a visitor staying at a central business hotel Tianjin close to the city centre. Raffles Tianjin in particular is a well-known landmark luxury hotel Tianjin which sits atop the Tianjin centre in the midst of Heping District, affording prime access to all the city’s commercial and historical venues.

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