Temple of the Chief Minister

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

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 Revarajas (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 gold-gilded, four-sided statue bristles with giant fans of 1048 arms, an eye upon each hand; the arhats themselves are presented with considerably less artistry. On the left of the Hall of Tripitaka (Cángjìng Lóu) is a small hall (大师堂; Dàshītáng) where a master calligrapher works and plies his craft (works from ¥100). A huge pagoda and hall is under construction at the rear. Elsewhere in the temple you can divine your future by drawing straws (ch ōuqi ān) or dine at the pleasant onsite vegetarian restaurant (素斋部; sùzhāibù).