Wenshu Monastery is located at the downtown of Chengdu City and it’s the top monastery among the Top Four Monasteries in the middle and downstream area of Yangtze River. It’s also the largest and the best-preserved Buddhist Monastery in Chengdu. First built in Sui Dynasty, between 605 ~ 617, Wenshu Monastery has a history over 1000 years. It was first called Xinxiang Temple, and it was renamed after a Buddhist Monk Cidu who lived there in the late 17th century. Local officials concluded that he must be the reincarnation of Manjusri and the monastery was renamed Wehnshu (means Manjusri in Chinese). At present, the monastery is a Buddhist holy land which combines Buddhism, ancient architecture, worship, sightseeing and religious study into together. And it’s also the home to Buddhist Association of Sichuan Province and Chengdu City.
Technically, Wenshu Monastery is not a travel attraction, but a real Buddhism temple. The entrance ticket only charges ¥5, and the incense burned by people are provided by the temple for free, and tourists can participate the Buddhism activities for free. To give, rather than take – this may be the significance of Wenshu Monastery.
Wenshu Monastery covers an area of 200, 000 m2 and its front door is facing the south direction. Once enter into the monastery, you will pass five halls in sequence, and there are Tianwang Hall, Sandatu Hall, Daxiong Hall, Shuofa Hall and Cangjing Hall. Drum tower, monk dorm, guest dorm, meditation room, dining room and praying hall are located at the eastern side and western side of the monastery. All architectures form an enclosed quadrangle dwelling. At present, there are about 190 rooms in the monastery, and the building area is about 20, 000m2.
Wenshu Monastery exhibits many precious cultural relics and treasures. Highlights here are over 300 Buddha statues of various materials including iron, mud, stone, wood and jade dating from the Liang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Among the statues, the most famous one is the jade Buddha Statue, which was brought back from Burma by Monk Xinglin in 1922 after he begged for alms on the way he walked to Burma.
Furthermore, the monastery’s Cangjing Pavilion also holds an abundance of history and arts. You can find everything from famous handwriting exhibits, to paintings and artwork. The masterworks of art of both ancient and contemporary China, serve as a testimony to Wenshu Monastery friendly exchange with the world.
The Monastery’s teahouse is extremely famous. It is an ideal location for visitors to appreciate Chinese tea and tea culture while enjoying shows presented by folk artisans in beautiful surroundings.
If you visit the monastery, definitely have a meal at the vegetarian restaurant next to the teahouse. Dishes range from Y4-75, and they are excellent. Don’t be worried by the words "pork" and "beef" all over the bilingual menu, they use fake substitutes for meat. Also, don’t be scared away by dishes which the menu says are spicy. Compared to hotpot, they aren’t really spicy at all.
Once you come to Wenshu Monastery, everything here will not only guarantee you peaceful and sacred atmosphere, but also the local life and essence of Buddhism.
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Wenshu Monastery is located at Wenshuyuan Street, which is in the city center.
By Flight: Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is about 20km from Wenshu Temple and if you take a taxi, this will cost about 40 minutes to get there. A cheaper way is taking airport bus to the city center, get off at Renminzhonglu Erduan, and then walk to Wenshu Monastery (walk about 1km). If you are going to stay Chengdu for few days, then it’s suggested to get to your hotel first, and then visit Wenshu Monastery
By Train: Tourists can take subway line 1 at Chengdu North Railway Station and Chengdu South Railway Station to get to Wenshu Monastery, and it will spend less than 30 minutes to get there.
Chengdu’s weather is not too cold in winter or too hot in summer, and Wenshu Monastery is a religious site rather than a natural scenic spot, so you can visit it all year round. One thing need to be noticed is from March to October, there are many Buddhism activities held in the temple, so if you are interested in it, you can visit from March to October.
Wenshu Monastery is located at the oldest district of Chengdu, thus there are many authentic Chengdu snacks. At present, more and more old famous snack stores are disappearing with the development of Chengdu, thus, the existing old stores are very precious. Luckily, tourists can still tastes the most authentic flavors at the neighborhood of Wenshu Monastery. For more information, please see Sichuan Cuisine & Food: What & Where to eat in Chengdu >>
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