Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Si)

Admission:

RMB 1 (an extra RMB 10 to enter the Flower Pagoda)

Hours:

8am-5pm daily

How to get there:

The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is located at 87-89 Liurong Lu (Liùróng Lù, 六榕路)—look for the big pagoda. Bus No. 56 also makes a stop at the temple.

The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liùróng Sì, 六榕寺) is a wonderful place to get a sense of Buddhism's long history in China as well a vivid picture of what contemporary Chinese Buddhism looks like.

The temple, given its present name in 1110 AD by famed Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1279 AD), was established in 479 AD. Its primary feature is the Flower Pagoda (Huā Tǎ, 花塔), a 17-tiered structure that towers 57 meters (almost 190 feet) over the ancient site.

The pagoda, which houses ancient relics from India, is decorated with a myriad of carved animals and holy figures. For an extra RMB 10 you can climb the spiral staircase, gaining some excellent views of the city along with close-ups of Buddhist icons and artwork.

Several halls feature additional artwork, including a stature of the Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion, notable for being featured in numerous photos Western families with newly adopted Chinese children, among other things (Guangzhou is a major point in the Chinese adoption network).

The small streets and alleys surrounding the temple are worth exploring for the stalls and shops vending jade trinkets, amulets, incense, plastic spinning musical electric mandalas and other religious bric-a-brac.

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