Happy Travel Tuesday! This is a continuation post on my trip to Xiamen last year. One of the must-visit places in Xiamen is the Nanputuo Temple (南普陀寺), a famous Buddhist temple founded by the Tang Dynasty, located on the southeast of Xiamen Island. “Nan” means South and “Putuo” refers to Mount Putuo, one of the sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism. Therefore, this is a temple located on the south of sacred Mount Putuo. So on one fine morning, together with our old friends Zhao Jie and Zhao Lei from Beijing, we took the public bus towards Nanputuo Temple, situated just next to Xiamen’s University.
Posing at the entrance to Nanputuo
Entering a temple usually means praying and joss sticks, so we purchased some outside the temple before entering it. The further the joss sticks stall is from the temple, the cheaper it is. Not to mention we could even haggle for the price!
A picture at the giant wooden door with my pack of joss sticks
Once we walked past the main entrance, we were treated to the sight of a beautiful and serene fish pond, surrounded by trees and bamboo plants. I already felt at peace here.
Bamboo plants next to the fish pond
That is, until I was distracted by someone’s big hair.
Can’t help but snap the picture of this ‘tall’ hair
Next to the pond was a white pagoda, standing tall and majestic.
One of the white pagodas by the lake
Pagoda on the lake
Peaceful fish pond in front of Nanputuo Temple
Facing the fish pond was the grand Hall of Heavenly Kings, with the gorgeous Wulao peaks as the backdrop. Visitors were not allowed inside the hall but I noticed a fat Buddha with a broad smile, bare chest and exposed paunch inside. This Buddha is none other than the Laughing Buddha, as how it is affectionately referred to.
Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tian Wang Dian)
Hall of Heavenly Kings up close
witch and Saucer in front of Hall of Heavenly Kings
This was also where we put our joss sticks to good use. Light them up, say your prayers and plant them at the designated area.
Burning incense sticks
Offering of prayers to the Buddha
Walking past the Hall of Heavenly Kings, we passed by another hall that shared the same premise with the Bell Tower.
Nanputuo Bell Tower
While walking around, we spotted another pagoda with many people throwing coins at it. Upon observation, we found that people were aiming their coins to enter the highest window opening of the pagoda, apparently for good luck. The openings were small and high up, therefore it wasn’t easy to get the coins inside. Believe me, I tried. 🙂
Aiming a coin to the highest window for good luck
While we were busy trying our luck, little Zhao Zhao enjoyed her ice-cream under the hot sun.
Ice-cream perfect on a hot day
The golden Buddha statues
Moving on, we were headed towards the mountains. There were golden statues of Buddha lining the way, as well as delicately sculptured window panes on the wall.
3D Sculpture on the window
The Hall of Great Mercy is 3-storey octagonal structure situated on a stone platform of 30 steps, built by General Shīlàng (施浪) in 1684 after retaking Taiwan from Koxinga’s grandson.
The architecture was incredibly impressive because the roof, which was made entirely from wooden beams and brackets apparently had no nails at all!
Hall of Great Mercy (大悲殿 – Dabeidian)
Soon we reached the bottom of the mountains, unmistakable due to the big inscription of the word Buddha (佛) on the rock.
Starting point to the peak
The path up was narrow and surrounded by rocks, but never really dangerous. It’s advisable to, however, hike up with a pair of good shoes and a bottle of water.
Making our way up
Inscriptions on the rock in red – perhaps teachings of Buddha?
More inscriptions on the rock
On the way up, we saw an area filled with hundreds of statues, mostly of the Buddha and other deities.
Hundreds of miniature statues of Buddha and deities
Halfway up and we were already treated to an amazing view of the city as well as the sea in the horizon.
View from halfway up
Resting at a checkpoint
At this point, most of us were already panting from the uphill climb. We thought it was a short one but it looked like never ending!
Taking a break with the beautiful scenery
Just to give you a perspective on how high the peak was, refer to the picture below. Yes, we were up there!
Peak of the mountain
Finally, we’re there! Oh the joy and exhilaration more than made up the lack of energy we all felt at that point. Not to mention the breathtaking view of the Xiamen island, surrounded by the sea and mountains in the horizon. It was a sight to behold.
Scenic view of Xiamen
The pictures would have been much nicer if it wasn’t so hazy that day. Even though some of us wanted to give up halfway through the stairs, we’re glad to have pushed each other through. The wonders of peer pressure. 🙂
Sky, sea and mountain in one picture
One for the album
The way down was much easier than up. And we made it within 20 minutes to the bottom of the mountain.
On the way down
Last but not least, the picture of the final hall that we passed by – the Hall of Worship, also the highest hall on the topology, where the monks meditate and pray.
Hall of Worship
Visiting the Nanputuo temple enveloped me with the feeling of peace and tranquility. Perhaps it was the intricate details on the roofs, or the way the halls were built according to the mountainous topology of Nanputuo, or really, it was the refreshing breeze coming from the trees and the sea, which made me feel that if Buddhism means enlightenment, this is a darn good place to start searching.