Xiǎntōng Temple

Top choice buddhist site in Wǔtái Shān

Xiǎntōng Temple – the largest temple in town – was erected in AD 68 and was the first Buddhist temple in the area. It comprises more than 100 halls and rooms. The Qiānbō Wénshū Hall contains a 1000-armed, multifaced Wenshu, whose every palm supports a miniature Buddha. The squat brick Beamless Hall (无梁殿; Wúliáng Diàn) holds a miniature Yuan dynasty pagoda, remarkable statues of contemplative monks meditating in the alcoves and a vast seated effigy of Wenshu.

Further on, up some steps is the blindingly beautiful Golden Hall, enveloped in a constellation of small Buddhas covering the walls. Five metres high and weighing 50 tonnes, the metal hall was cast in 1606 before being gilded; it houses an effigy of Wenshu seated atop a lion.