Famen Temple, located at the Famen Town in Fufeng County, Baoji City, Shaanxi Province, is a famous temple for keeping the sariras of Sakyamuni Buddha. It has always been known as the initial monastery of all Buddhist monasteries in the Guanzhong Area, an important unit of cultural protection and preservation of the province and a sacred place for making pilgrimage tours.
The Famen Temple, initially built under the reign of Emperor Huan of the Eastern Han Dynasty, has a history of over 1, 700 years. According to the “Record of Buddhist Classics” King Asoka of the Ancient India, in order to popularize Buddhism. built 84, 000 stupas in around the world for the separate keeping of the sariras of the Buddha, of which 19 were in China, and the Famen Temple was one of them. As kept underneath the pagoda were sariras of the Buddha “the temple was therefore built and came to be known due to the existence of the the stupa.” Renowned far and wide the temple has by and by become a flourishing venue for pilgrims and one of great fame in the world. According to the historical record there were eight emperors in the Tang Dynasty who went to the temple taking the sariras back to the imperial palace for pious consecration and also granted a great many treasured objects to be kept in the crypt of the stupa.
In the long-run of its history the Famen Temple has experienced many a time of destruction and reconstruction. There used to have a wooden pagoda in the temple which due to long neglect collapsed after the earthquakes happened twice in Fengxiang area during the Ming Dynasty. The reconstruction of the pagoda made it a brick one of 13 storeys. The western half of it collapsed on August 24, 1981 and a crypt built in the Tang Dynasty was found on April 2, 1986 when archeologists were clearing up the base of the collapsed pagoda. The crypt, 21.4 meters long and covering a floor-space of 31.48 square meters, consists of a passageway, a platform, a tunnel and the front, middle and rear halls.
Discovered from the crypt are a great number of cultural relics of the Tang Dynasty. They consists of two types: one being the figure-bone sariras of the Buddha and the other objects presented to the temple as contributions when the satires were escorted to and fro the imperial court for consecration. Most of the objects are gold-and-silver wares, pearls and jade-pieces, glazed wares, porcelains and silk and brocade, a total of over 900 pieces of treasured cultural relics. One of them is a 1.96-meter-tall Buddhist staff of four facades with silver-and-gold flower-motif decorations and 12 rings and carved on it are the two deities of Pratyeka. The craftmanship is more exquisite and of higher grade than the brass-headed one, the largest of its kind now kept in Shosoin Treasure House in Japan. Still there are the gold-wire cassock and the embroidered skirt of Empress Wu Zetian. All of these are the precious treasure pieces very rare in the world. The excavation of the national treasures of real satires and some other articles have been considered as another important discovery after the Qin Terra-cotta Figures in the archeological field, a happy event in the Buddhist circles Chinese and foreign and in the world cultural history as well.
The renovated Famen Temple now presents an utterly new feature in the Famen Town and the towering brick pagoda, keeping the original style of the Ming Dynasty, has became a sign. a symbol of the Famen Temple. With worldly rare treasures on display the treasure pavilion is the main building if the museum with its profile quaintly shaped and its interior elegantly furnished. The layout of the temple compound remains the same as before with its pagoda standing in front of the Mahavira Hall in the style of the early Tang Dynasty. With corridors to link up the Brass Buddha Hall and the Mahavira Hall the pagoda for keeping the real remains, girdled in green, towers 47 meters high in the middle of the courtyard. The whole spacious court presents a magnificent atmosphere in which the “surrounding corridors seem to be a girdle while the thrusting tower the piling up clouds. ” The glistening Mahavira Hall, splendidly reconstructed to set off the toweling pagoda, epitomizes in a livelier way the exquisite craftsmanship of the temple architecture as a whole. The newly-built Dharma-hall, abbot-cabinet, annexes on both sides and guesthouses intermingled with lush verdure in the compound suggest an ambience of “ a Buddhist world tucked deeply away in seclusion of flowers and plants.” in front of the temple there is a big square and a broad access of stone-slates, which sides with green belts the pagoda road and the Chongzheng Road are neatly lined with betels, restaurants and shops and other set-ups in the service of tourists.
Entrance fee: March 1st-Novermber 30th: RMB120 per person; December 1st-Feburary 28th (29th): RMB90 per person
Public Transportation: Taxi or rent a car from local travel company
Tips for Famen Temple Visiting:
- Famen Temple is about 130km west to Xian City. Very few bus available from Xian to Famen Temple. It would be safe to rent a car from local travel company.
- Next to Famen Temple there is the Famen Temple Museum and the entrance fee is included in that of Famen Temple. Pay a visit there one will see lots of historical relics unearthed in underground palace in Famen Temple.
Tours including Famen Temple:
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