Chenxiangge Monastery

Buddhist Temple

in Shanghai Old City

Sheltering a community of dark-brown-clothed monks from the Chenhai (Sea of Dust) – what Buddhists call the mortal world, but which could equally refer to Shanghai’s murky atmosphere – this lovely yellow-walled temple is a tranquil refuge. At the temple rear, the Guanyin Tower guides you upstairs to a glittering effigy of the male-looking goddess Guanyin, within a resplendent gilded cabinet.

Carved from chénxiāng wood (Chinese eaglewood) and seated in lalitasana posture, head tilted and with one arm resting on her leg, this version is a modern copy; the original disappeared during the Cultural Revolution.

At the front, the Hall of Heavenly Kings (天王殿, Tiānwáng Diàn) envelops four gilded Heavenly Kings (each belonging to a different compass point) and a slightly androgynous form of Maitreya. Muttered prayers and chanted hymns fill the Great Treasure Hall (大雄宝殿, Dàxióng Bǎodiàn), where a statue of Sakyamuni (Buddha) is flanked by two rows of nine luóhàn (arhats).