Chengdu's oldest and largest temple is the Wenshu Monastery (Wénshū Yuàn, 文殊院). The temple that stands today is a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) reconstruction of a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) temple from centuries earlier.
Dedicated to the incarnation of Wenshu, you'll see his image associated with a lion throughout the grounds—these are representations of his symbolic animal. The soaring, red-walled halls are beautiful examples of classic architecture with their inverted eaves and sky-high ceilings. The space buzzes with life as worshipers, monks and tourists mix amidst the courtyards, four halls and eleven-story pagoda. There's also a museum exhibiting traditional calligraphy, painting and other artifacts. The museum offers a brief history of the temple, and provides a framework for understanding today's temple.
The on-site vegetarian restaurant is accompanied by a large and well regarded tea house that draws both locals and tourists from afar.
Chengdu has a sizable Buddhist population who worship at the monastery with incense, while monks chant and salute their deity with drums, gongs and bells. Wenshu Monastery has an office run by monks and laypeople that can provide a schedule of important Buddhist ceremonies and events.
The monastery is surrounded by a tourist area of replica buildings built to resemble Qing-era housing, and everything from Shu brocade screens, jade and jewelry and other trinkets can be found there. The tourist area also has a few small teahouses, a great noodle and dumpling restaurant and some delicious lamb kebab stands nearby.
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