Great Buddha Temple

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

Originally dating to 1098 (Western Xia dynasty), this behemoth of a temple contains an astonishing 35m-long sleeping Buddha – China’s largest of this variety – surrounded by mouldering clay arhats (Buddhists who have achieved enlightenment) and Qing-dynasty murals. Until the 1960s, small children would clamber into the huge Buddha and play around inside his tummy.

Apart from the statue, take a good look at the main hall and the woodwork, including the doors and the exquisite brackets supporting the roof eaves. This is one of the few wooden structures from this era still standing in China and there is a wealth of traditional symbols to examine. There are also several other temples and halls to explore, as well as the impressive white earth stupa (土塔; tǔ tǎ ) dating from the Ming dynasty, when this vast temple complex was called Hóngrén Temple (弘仁寺; Hóngrén Sì).

The temple is off Jianfu Jie across a large square. From Xi Dajie head south about 1km.