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China: Wenshu Monastery

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Wenshu Monastery | China | Asia

[Visited: August 2016]

On previous visits to the city, I had time to visit places in the region, but this time around, there is not much time for that, so I decide to explore some of the city itself. I take the subway to the north - a subway that was still under construction on my previous visit. The pace of development in China sometimes is breathtaking: now, a network of various lines with many stations serves the city, those seeking to escape the traffic jams. When I get off, I walk past highrise buildings and a busy street, turn right, where old people line the street with their carts selling all kinds of stuff. As soon as I step through a door opening, I am in a different world. Here, smoke of incense whirls around, a monk floats by, and people kneel in prayer in an old temple. I walk in an anti-clockwise direction: I pass the flower shop and head to the 13-story pagoda.

Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Hall in the central section of Wenshu monastery

When I approach the pagoda, I first come across two large statues of elephants, with triple tusks, carrying globes on their backs. Direct access to the pagoda is blocked, so I walk under a wooden corridor to the tiny circular square, in the middle of which is the tallest iron pagoda of China. Every story is decorated with a brass plate with Chinese writing, and golden Buddha sculptures. In the base of the pagoda, remains of the skull of Xuanzang, a famous Chinese Buddhist monk and traveler from the early 7th century. This coincides with the fact that Xinxiang monastery, the predecessor of Wenshu, was founded in the 7th century. From here, I walk directly north through the park grounds of the monastery. More than just a place for worship, Wenshu monastery also attracts people with its extensive and well-kept garden.

Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Detailed view of upper part of a small building with leaves in the northern part of Wenshu monastery grounds

In the northern part of the monastery grounds, I reach the Scriptures Hall. Behind the large building, I see apartment blocks, and I remember that I am still in a big city, even though I felt in a separate place ever since I entered the compound. The building is richly decorated at the outside. On ground level, people sit on round pillows to pray, and when I walk up the stairs, I come to a large hall where I find hundreds of Buddha statues in glass cupboards. This building also contains the library of the monastery, which supposedly holds many important religious documents and items. I walk back down, take a different path through the gardens, and come across a pond with a circular stone sculpture. There are shrubberies cut in the shape of a pagoda, and tall rocks giving the illusion of a landscape in this city monastery. Back at the main entrance, I wonder the central section of the monastery where I find many halls, people burning incense, monks entering side alleys, I hear chanting, and gradually, people leave because the monastery is about to close. But no one notifies me, so I stay, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere until all halls are closed and it is time to go.

Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): The main space of the scriptures hall with pillows on the floor
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): The richly decorated 13-story pagoda contains remains of the skull of Xuangzang
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Main hall of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Stele in front of the scriptures hall in the northern part of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Resting place in the park of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): The richly decorated roof of the scriptures hall building
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Circular gate in the central section of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Rocks providing a landscape illusion in the park of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Shrubbery with carved out pagoda in the park of Wenshu monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Elephants guarding the 13-story pagoda
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Old couple at a pond in the park of the monastery
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Hundreds of small Buddha statues on the upper floor of the scriptures hall
Picture of Wenshu Monastery (China): Hall in the main compound of the monastery complex

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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