Guǎngrén Temple

Buddhist Temple in Xi'an

Image by canghai76 Shutterstock

The sole Tibetan Buddhist temple in the entire province, Guǎngrén Temple originally dates to the early 18th century, but was largely rebuilt in the 20th century. As a sacred Tibetan Buddhist place of worship, the temple hums with mystery and spiritual energy. Perhaps the most valuable object in the temple resides in the final hall, a golden representation of Sakyamuni that rests upon a Tang dynasty pedestal. There is only one other like it, housed at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

Upon entering, you are faced by a colossal brick spirit wall – six metres high, 10 metres long and one metre thick. Of the temple halls beyond, notable shrines include the Hall of the 1000 Hand Guanyin – containing a rather masculine looking multiarmed Goddess of Compassion – and the Permanent Altar Lamp (万年灯; wànnián dēng), a wick floating in 108 jīn's worth of oil within a protective shelter. The light represents wisdom, and as such is a lamp of knowledge, undying in its brightness.

The Central Hall (主殿; Zhǔdiàn), surrounded by prayer wheels that you revolve clockwise as you walk clockwise around the hall, houses an effigy of the Bodhisattva Tara (绿度母; Lǜdù Mǔ), with attendant statues of Wenshu and Puxian. In other side halls assemble further divinities, including the three-faced uṣṇīṣa vijaya (尊胜佛母) and the God of Wealth, who stares out from a scene of golden opulence, bottles of Maotai before him.

A further mesmerising spectacle is the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas (千佛殿; Qiānfó Diàn), with its glittering gold and vermilion interior, and the final hall, the Depository of Buddhist Scriptures (藏经阁), containing a huge effigy of Buddha as well as the aforementioned, and highly rare, golden representation of Sakyamuni. A solitary ancient bodhi tree also grows from the temple soil.