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Shaoguan Nanhua Temple


on the bank of Caoxi River, 7 kilometers southeast of Maba Town, Qujiang District, Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province

Reasons to visit

the famous temple of Zen Buddhism in China; the birthplace of the "Southern Zen Method" of Huineng, the sixth patriarch of Zen.

Our Ratings

Opening Hours

  • 08:00-17:00

Nanhua Temple has a very high status in Buddhism, with many cultural relics in the temple. Nanhua Temple is one of the first batch of Buddhist national key temples in the Han region designated by The State Council. Visitors can experience the fun of historical and cultural tours here.

Brief introduction of Nanhua Temple

Nanhua Temple is the birthplace of the Southern School of Zen Buddhism, where the Sixth Patriarch Huineng preached and passed away. Nanhua Temple was first built in the first year of Tianjian of Emperor Wu of Liang in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (502 AD). It has a history of nearly 1500 years. The temple covers an area of more than 12,000 square meters, consisting of a group of buildings such as Caoxi Gate, Release Pond, Baolin Gate, Heavenly King Hall, Mahavira Hall, Sutra Hall, Lingzhao Pagoda, Sixth Patriarch Hall, etc. Except for Lingzhao Pagoda and Sixth Patriarch Hall, all the buildings were rebuilt after 1934. 

What to see and do at Nanhua Temple?

Nanhua Temple is a sacred place for Zen Buddhism, where you can appreciate the ancient architecture, admire the exquisite statues, worship the relics of the Sixth Patriarch, experience the Zen culture, and enjoy the natural scenery. Here are some of the highlights of Nanhua Temple:

The Sixth Patriarch Hall: This is the most important hall of Nanhua Temple, where the real body of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng is enshrined. Huineng was the founder of the Southern School of Zen Buddhism, and his teachings are recorded in the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. Huineng passed away in 713 ADS at the age of 76, and his disciples preserved his body with spices and lacquer. The Sixth Patriarch Hall was rebuilt in 1981, and the real body of Huineng was re-enshrined in the hall. The hall also displays the imperial edict of Empress Wu Zetian, who bestowed the title of "Dajian Huineng" to Huineng, and the thousand-Buddha kasaya, a rare embroidered robe given by Tang Zhongzong to Huineng.

The Lingzhao Pagoda: This is the oldest building in Nanhua Temple, dating back to the Tang Dynasty. It is a seven-story octagonal brick pagoda, about 40 meters high. It is said that the pagoda contains the relics of Huineng's hair and nails, as well as some Buddhist scriptures and utensils. The pagoda is also a good place to overlook the whole temple and the surrounding mountains and rivers.

The Mahavira Hall: This is the main hall of Nanhua Temple, where the statues of Sakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and Medicine Buddha are enshrined. The hall also has 18 arhats, four heavenly kings, two bodhisattvas, two guardians, and two dragon kings. The statues are all exquisite and lifelike, showing the superb skills of the craftsmen. The hall also has a large bronze bell, which weighs more than 10,000 kilograms and was cast in the Ming Dynasty. The bell sounds loud and clear, and can be heard from far away.

The Sutra Hall: 

This is the place where the Buddhist scriptures and relics are stored. The hall has a collection of more than 10,000 volumes of scriptures, including some rare and precious ones, such as the golden book of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the bamboo slips of the Diamond Sutra, and the stone carvings of the Heart Sutra. The hall also displays some cultural relics, such as the bronze Buddha statue of the Northern Qi Dynasty, the embroidered socks of the Tang Dynasty, and the iron Guanyin Hall of the Tang Dynasty.

The Release Pond: 

This is a pond in front of the Baolin Gate, where many turtles, fish, and lotus flowers live. The pond was built for the purpose of releasing animals and plants, which is a Buddhist practice of showing compassion and kindness to all living beings. The pond is also a beautiful spot to enjoy the water and the greenery.

How to visit Nanhua Temple?

Best time to visit:
The best season to visit Nanhua Temple is spring or autumn, when the weather is pleasant and the scenery is charming. Summer is hot and humid, and winter is cold and dry. The temple is open all year round, but it may be crowded during holidays and festivals, such as the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Qingming Festival, and the birthday of the Sixth Patriarch (the 19th day of the second lunar month).

Entrance fee:
The ticket price of Nanhua Temple is 20 yuan per person, and the opening hours are from 8:00 to 17:00. Visitors can buy tickets at the ticket office near the Caoxi Gate. Visitors can also join a guided tour group, which costs 50 yuan per person, and includes a professional guide and a vegetarian meal. The tour lasts for about two hours, and covers the main attractions of the temple.

Tips for visiting Nanhua Temple:

  • Nanhua Temple provides three incense sticks free of charge to visitors, which can be picked up at the entrance of the mountain gate. It is strictly forbidden to carry incense sticks, paper money, paper bundles and other things into the temple to burn.
  • Nanhua Temple has not commissioned any organization to carry out online ticket sales, please purchase tickets at the manual window of the ticket office or use the ticket vending machine after admission.

How to experience the Zen culture:
Visitors can experience the Zen culture and lifestyle of the temple by participating in some activities, such as chanting, meditating, reading scriptures, listening to lectures, etc. Visitors can also enjoy the vegetarian food of the temple, which is simple but delicious, and costs 10 yuan per person. Visitors can also stay overnight at the temple, which costs 50 yuan per person, and includes a bed, a quilt, and a locker. Visitors can also join the morning and evening classes of the monks, and learn more about the Zen teachings and practices.

How to get to Nanhua Temple?

By bus: Take bus No. 3 from Shaoguan East Railway Station or Shaoguan Bus Station, and get off at Nanhua Temple Station. The bus fare is 6 yuan per person, and the journey takes about 40 minutes. The bus runs from 6:30 to 18:30, and departs every 15 minutes.
By taxi: Take a taxi from Shaoguan City to Nanhua Temple, which costs about 50 yuan, and takes about 30 minutes. The taxi can be hailed on the street, or booked online or by phone.

►Other scenic spots nearby?

Caoxi Scenic Area: This is a natural scenic area along the Caoxi River, where visitors can enjoy the beautiful views of the waterfalls, rapids, pools, rocks, forests, etc. The scenic area also has some historical and cultural attractions, such as the Caoxi Bridge, the Flying Tin Bridge, the Fuhu Pavilion, the Zhuoxi Spring, etc. The scenic area is about 3 kilometers away from Nanhua Temple, and visitors can walk or take a battery car to get there. The ticket price is 20 yuan per person, and the opening hours are from 8:00 to 17:00.

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