Jade Buddha Temple

Top choice buddhist temple in Jing'an
Image by Sebastian Schulze / EyeEm / Getty Images

One of Shanghai’s few active Buddhist monasteries, this temple was built between 1918 and 1928. The highlight is a transcendent Buddha crafted from pure jade, one of five shipped back to China by the monk Hui Gen at the turn of the 20th century. It's a popular stopover for tour buses, so be prepared for crowds. During the Lunar New Year (usually February), the temple is very busy, as some 20,000 Chinese Buddhists throng to pray for prosperity.

The first temple on your immediate left upon entering is the Hall of Heavenly Kings, holding the statues of the Four Heavenly Kings who look upon the four cardinal points. Directly opposite is the twin-eaved Grand Hall, the temple's most significant building, where worshippers pray to the past, present and future Buddhas. Also within the Grand Hall are splendidly carved luóhàn (arhats), lashed to the walls with wires, and a copper-coloured statue of Guanyin at the rear. Passing through the Grand Hall you'll reach a gated tranquil courtyard, where stairs lead up to the Jade Buddha Hall. The absolute centrepiece of the temple is the 1.9m-high pale-green jade Buddha, seated upstairs and carved from one piece. Photographs are not permitted. Further into the complex is the Reclining Budda Hall, which contains a small reclining white jade Buddha from Burma that's displayed in a glass cabinet. The Mahavira Hall was renovated and reopened in 2019; it was raised by a metre and now stands at 18.2m tall and weighs in at 1000 tonnes.

To get here, take either Changshou metro station exit 5 and walk along Anyuan Rd, or get off at Jiangning Rd metro and walk south along Jiangning Rd. There's a vegetarian restaurant within the temple complex.