Who would have thought that in Australia, one would find the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern hemisphere? It’s true, Nan Tien Temple, also known as the Southern Paradise, is located about 80km from Sydney and aims to focus on the interchange of western and eastern cultures. During my first few weeks in Sydney, I was lucky to visit this place on a bright sunny day. On the way there, we stopped at a lookout point called Bald Hill to be mesmerized by the excellent views of Stanwell Park and Wollongong in the distance.
The blues and the greens
Bald Hill is a famous location for hang-gliding sport, but since we reached there rather late in the afternoon, most of the hang gliders had already left. It would have been exciting to watch people flying off the cliff into the ocean! That aside, the view from here alone was breath-taking and enough to free our minds of worries and thoughts, if only for just that few minutes. The waves of the ocean were soothing and the gentle breeze so cool and comforting.
Relaxing by the cliff
View from Bald Hill towards Wollongong in the distance
From Bald Hill, we continued our journey towards the temple but not before driving through the gorgeous Sea Cliff Bridge. Driving along this bridge offered spectacular views of the ocean, with an option to walk on the footpath if you like.
Sea Cliff Bridge
Soon, we turned into Berkeley, where the Nan Tien Temple is located. We reached there around 4.30pm, just half an hour before the temple closed, so it was pretty deserted. I have to admit that I was really impressed with the size, the design and the landscaping of the temple. If you showed me pictures of this temple, I wouldn’t believe that they were taken in Australia itself.
The majestic Nan Tien Temple
Eight statues near the entrance of the main shrine
Animal figurines on the roof
To get to the main shrine, we had to climb up a flight of stairs, which incidentally meant that we are taking steps to gain enlightenment. Cameras are not allowed inside the shrine, so the pictures were taken from outside instead. There were 5 magnificent Buddhas inside the shrine, with one laughing Buddha greeting us at the entrance.
The Buddhas in the main shrine
Praying area in the main shrine
Outside the shrine was a huge bell, an auspicious symbol in Chinese tradition. Sounds of the bell ringing would fill the air during prayer sessions by the devotees.
Large bell at the main shrine
Visiting this temple really opened my eyes on how different cultures not only make us unique, but they bring us together. The famous Nan Tien Temple is a popular spot for tourists who visit Australia from around the world. It is indeed a place to find calm, peace and possibly, enlightenment.
View from the main shrine
The Southern Paradise that is Nan Tien Temple
Nan Tien Temple
180 Berkeley Road,
Berkeley, N.S.W. 2506, Australia.
Tel: +61 (2) 4272 0600
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday & all Public Holidays (9am – 5pm)