500px Photo ID: 125642099 -

Pixelerie / 500px

Longhua Temple & Pagoda


Shanghai's oldest and largest monastery is named after the pipal tree (lónghuá) under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. Trees are decorated with red lanterns, incense smoke fills the front of the grounds and monks can regularly be heard chanting, making this one of the city's most atmospheric sites. The much-renovated temple is said to date from the 10th century.

The main halls to visit on the complex are Mile Dian (Maitreya Hall), Tianwang Dian (Hall of Heavenly Kings), Daxiongbao Dian (Grand Hall of the Great Sage), Sansheng Dian (Three Sages Hall) and the Laughing Buddha Hall; note the four huge Heavenly Kings, each in charge of a compass point. The temple is particularly famed for its 6500kg bell, cast in 1894.

A large effigy of Shakyamuni seated on a lotus flower resides within the main hall (Daxiongbao Dian), while the Sansheng Dian holds a golden trinity of Buddhist statues. Also on the complex is the Thousand Luohan Hall, sheltering a huge legion of glittering arhat.

Opposite the temple entrance rises the seven-storey, 44m-high Longhua Pagoda, originally built in AD 977. Visitors are not allowed to climb it, but may recognise it from Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun.

The best time to visit is during the Longhua Temple Fair, in the third month of the lunar calendar (usually during April or May); entry may be more expensive during festivities.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Shanghai attractions

1. Martyr's Cemetary & Memorial

0.12 MILES

This park marks the site of an old Kuomintang prison, where 800 communists, intellectuals and political agitators were executed between 1928 and 1937. A…

2. Yuz Museum

0.68 MILES

A huge development for Shanghai's contemporary art scene, this enormous gallery is housed in the former hangar of Longhua Airport and sprawls over 9000 sq…

3. West Bund Art Center

0.76 MILES

This arts centre features over 100 leading galleries from around the world showing contemporary art to Asian fine arts. The enormous gallery spaces here…

4. SCôP: Shanghai Centre of Photography

0.79 MILES

One of the cluster of galleries making up the new West Bund cultural hub, the Shanghai Centre of Photography is a small but effective space displaying…

5. Long Museum

0.97 MILES

This sister museum to the Pudong venue of the same name is an important part of the movement to create a world-class art hub along the West Bund. The four…

6. Shanghai Film Museum

1.19 MILES

There's no shortage of entertainment value here, beginning from the moment you enter the exhibits via a 'red carpet' corridor of simulated applause and…

7. Tou-Se-We Museum

1.31 MILES

Alongside a middle school on Puhuitang Rd, this fascinating museum is dedicated to the arts and crafts of the former Tousewe Orphanage, established here…

8. Former St Ignatius Convent

1.43 MILES

The former St Ignatius Convent, standing across North Caoxi Rd from St Ignatius Cathedral, is now a restaurant called Ye Olde Station (上海老站, Shanghai…