As the first Buddha temple in China, White Horse Temple has so many “First Things” here: The first ancient pagoda, Qiyun Pagoda; The first Indian monk lived; The first Chinese Buddhist scriptures stored; The first translating scripture place- Cool and Clear Terrace; The first Chinese monk entering; etc.
Through many times destructions and restorations, it left a large number of precious Buddha statues, such as Buddhas of Three Periods, the two Aerial Acoustics, Eighteen Arhats, etc.
Enjoying a booming pilgrimage in China today, White Horse Temple had a great influence abroad as well. The surrounding Indian Temple, Thailand Temple and Burmese-style Temple shows a great Buddhist culture exchange between different countries.
According to historical legend, Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty dreamed of a golden man flying above the courtyard. After he woke up, he was delighted and sent envoys to western regions to invite Buddha and learn Buddhism. The two envoys underwent much hardship and met two eminent Indian dignitaries- She Moteng (摄摩腾) and Zhu Falan(竺法兰). Under their invitation, the two monks came to China with them and a white horse carrying the sutras together.
In the year of AD 68, the emperor ordered to build a temple to keep the scriptures. In order to memorize the white horse for its carrying back of the sutras, the temple was named the White Horse Temple.
Facing south, White Horse Temple is well structured in a symmetrical pattern. According to the layout, here is the visiting route for you to join the Buddhist land with different architectural styles.
Before you enter, there are two stone horses in front of the temple gate, representing the white horses which carried the scriptures and the Indian monks to China, standing on either side of the entrance, gazing at you solemnly. Go close and through the archway gate, you are standing between a pair of tombs in the east and west courtyards, named the tombs of the two Indian monks.
Keep walking and the main buildings run on alignment for you to the north.
Hall of the Heavenly Kings is the first hall in this temple, with clay-molded statues, the four kings was decorated in the Qing Dynasty. Explore further, you will meet the main hall-The hall of Great Buddha. Built in Ming dynasty, this hall is full of Buddha statues, including Sakyamuni, statues of Wenshu, the bodhisattva of Wisdom, and Samantabhadra, etc. Glancing at the northeastern corner, there is a big ancient bell weight over one ton, where the famous New Year bell striking activity celebrated.
Behind the Great Buddha Hall is the well decorated Hall of Mahavira. With 22.8 meters long and 14.2 meters wide, it’s the biggest hall here. Among the thousands Buddha statues, the Sakyamuni, Amitabha, the Medicine Buddha and the eighteen arhats standing around are all made from silk and hemp, which are most precious.
After visit those halls, you are coming to Cool and Clear Terrace, where is the place of original sutras stored and translated. Today, this place is more like a courtyard, dotted with faint fragrance of cypress and cassia trees for tourists to enjoy the quietness.
Outside the temple is tiered with Qiyuan Pagoda, the oldest of China's ancient pagoda and some foreign featured buildings, like Indian Temple, Thailand Temple and Burmese-style Temple.
With 22 km away from White Horse Temple, the Longmen Grottoes is another highlight in Luoyang city to appreciate the carving art by visiting thousands of Buddha statues in ancient China.
About 12-13 km east of Luoyang city, tourists can take bus 56 from Luoyang Railway Station to White Horse Temple directly within 1-1.5 hours. Or you can contact us for private transport service.
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