Jing An Temple
Jing’an Temple has a fitting name. It translates to “Temple of Peace and Tranquility” and this complex on one of the city’s main shopping streets does indeed offer an oasis of calm. Built in the third century, the Buddhist temple has a checkered past. It was relocated during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), converted into a plastics factory during the Cultural Revolution and destroyed by fire in 1972. Today’s reconstructed temple, surrounded by modern skyscrapers and shopping malls, is a perfect place to escape the busy streets of downtown Shanghai. It also offers a fascinating window into the spiritual lives of Shanghai’s people.
Light some incense sticks and send blessings to loved ones at home. This is an active temple and so visitors are welcome to join locals in worship. Enjoy the tranquility as you stroll through the temple’s three main halls: Mahavira Hall, the Hall of Heavenly Kings and the Three Sage Hall. In the Mahavira Hall, stand before China’s biggest pure jade Buddha. The statue stands about 12 feet (nearly 4 meters) high and weighs more than 10 tons (8.9 tonnes).
Make your way to the Exhibition Hall of Buddhist Relics to admire the impressive paintings and calligraphy by Yangzhou’s Eight Eccentric Painters. Keep an eye out for one of the temple’s most important relics, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) bronze bell.
If you are visiting Shanghai in early May, try not to miss the annual Temple Fair, which celebrates Buddha’s birthday. The three-day fair began during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when villagers would gather at the temple and sell handicrafts and agricultural produce.
You’ll find Jing’an Temple on West Nanjing Road in downtown Shanghai. The temple is easy to get to by metro and public bus. There is a small admission fee and the temple is open daily.