Located on Guangxiao Road in Guangzhou city, Guangxiao Temple, literally termed as Bright Filial Piety Temple in English, is grandest and most influential temple in Guangzhou with a history of more than 1,700 years. It is the popular saying among the Cantonese that Guangxiao Temple predated the founding of the city of Guangzhou.
The temple was initially the residence of Prince Zhao Jiande, the third-generation offspring of the Nanyue Kingdom during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). In the Three-Kingdoms Period (220 - 228), a commander named Yu Fan was degraded and banished to Guangzhou. He settled down there and began to give lectures. After Yu Fan's death, his family had it converted into a temple called Zhizhi Temple. During East Jin Period, a famous monk called Tanmoyeshe came to Guangzhou for preaching, meantime, he helped build the Mahavira Hall. Ever since then, many renowned monks have come to the temple to spread Buddhism, which is destined to make it important in the history of Buddhism. The present name Guangxiao was not derived until 1151 AD during Southern Song Dynasty.
The whole temple looks imposing and solemn. As the key structure of the temple, Mahavira Hall sits on the high pedestal with the Bell and Drum Tower erecting on each side. Inside the hall are three newly-built Buddhist statues. The statue of Sakyamuni is placed in the middle, with the statues of Manjusri and Visvabhadra Bodhisattva respectively on the left and right side. The three Buddhist figures are known as Three Saints of Huayan. In front of the hall are there two ancient stone pillars inscribed with Buddhist incantation, which serve as the streamers of the monastery. All of which has finely exemplified the architectural style of Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).
Speak of Guangxiao Temple, Huineng, one of the six founders of Chinese Buddhism must be mentioned. It was in Guangxiao Temple that he had his hair shaven and became a monk. It was also the site where the famous 'Wind or Banner Motivation' debate took place. The Sixth Ancestor Hall in the temple was built in memory of this great man. An octagonal 7.8 meters (25.6 feet) high stone pagoda was set up to bury his hair.
The two iron pagodas are the oldest of its kind in existence in China. The West Iron Pagoda was cast in 963 in the Five Dynasties(907 - 960), four years earlier than that of the East Pagoda. The square-shaped pagoda used to have seven storeys, however, as some houses in the temple collapsed and four storeys were destroyed in the last year of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), only three storeys remains now. Images of Buddha are carved all through the pagoda. In the middle of each side is a big niche that is used for the statue of the seated Buddha.
The East Iron Pagoda, made in 967 in the Five Dynasties is 7.69 meters (25.2 feet) high, with the stone pedestal 1.34 meters (4.4 feet) high and the iron body 6.35 meters (20.8 feet) high. More than 900 niches were designed for the figures of the Buddha, revealing the delicate skills of the ancient Chinese. When it was first finished, it was gilded all over the body. Though the gild has faded in the long course, the excellent workmanship of the pagoda remains.
Entrance Fee: CNY 5
Opening Hours: 06:00 - 17:30
A. Bus Routes: Take Bus No. 27, 83, 103, 105, 109, 186, 204, 229, 253, 261, 283, 289, 297, 518, 549 or 556 and get off at Guangyi stop, and walk to the temple;
B. Subway Line: Take Subway Line 1 and get off at Ximenkou station, and walk to the temple.