Temple of the Chief Minister
- Ziyou Lu
- admission Y30
Lonely Planet review for Temple of the Chief Minister
First founded in AD 555, this frequently rebuilt temple was destroyed along with the city in the early 1640s when rebels breached the Yellow River's dykes. During the Northern Song, the temple covered a massive 34 hectares and housed over 10,000 monks.
Within the Hall of the Heavenly Kings (天王殿; Tiānwáng Diàn), the mission of chubby Milefo (the Laughing Buddha) is proclaimed in the attendant Chinese characters: 'Big belly can endure all that is hard to endure in the world'. But the temple showstopper is the mesmerising Four-Faced Thousand Hand Thousand Eye Guanyin (四面千手千眼观世音), towering within the octagonal Arhat Hall (罗汉殿; Luóhàn Diàn), beyond the Hall of Tathagata (大雄宝殿; Dàxióng Bǎodiàn). Fifty-eight years in the carving, the 7m-tall gilded statue bristles with giant fans of 1048 arms, an eye upon each hand; the arhats themselves are presented with considerably less artistry. Jade Buddhas assemble within the Hall of Tripitaka (Cángjìng Lóu), where scriptures were stored, and a multitude of side halls can be explored as well as numerous shops where you can pick up Buddhist talismans and knick-knacks. Recent additions include some rather crudely fashioned pagodas and at the rear is a further hall awaiting construction. Elsewhere in the temple you can divine your future by drawing straws (chōuqiān), dine at the on-site vegetarian restaurant (斋堂) or listen to the song of caged birds.