Tag Archives: Buddhist temple

Things to See in South Africa: Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit Travel Attractions 09 FEB 2016

50 kilometers east of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa, you will find the small town of Bronkhorstspruit. Surprisingly, you will also find the largest Buddhist temple and seminary in Africa – the Nan Hua Temple.

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Covering over 2.4 square kilometers, the Nan Hua Buddhist temple serves as the African headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Order.

(Established in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Fo Guang Shan is a Mahayana Chinese Buddhism monastic order. The Temple, like its mother order in Taiwan, follows the Linji Chan school of Buddhism as well as the Pure Land School.)

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In 1992, the Bronkhorstspruit City Council, in an effort to promote investment opportunities, donated six hectares of land to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order for a Chinese Buddhist cultural and educational complex. Construction began in October of that year, and Venerable Hui Li  was tasked to be the founding abbot of the temple – whose main aim is to promote Buddhism on the African continent.

Since then the Temple itself, as well as the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple Guesthouse, African Buddhist Seminary (ABS), Nan Hua Village, Assembly Hall, and a Pureland Ch’an retreat centre have been built. The main temple was officially opened in 2005 by the seventh and current worldwide head abbot, Most Venerable Hsin Pei.

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As you might suspect, the ornate Chinese styled buildings and grounds make the Nan Hua Temple complex very much stand out from the rest of the far more conservative Bronkhorstspruit – which is probably why back in 2002 the Boeremag, a militant Afrikaner right-wing organisation, planted a bomb in the basement of the temple.

Luckily, they didn’t know what they were doing, because the detonator went off prematurely.

(Seriously, what idiots would want to destroy something as beautiful and tranquil as a Buddhist temple?)

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Anyway, spiritual or not, if you are in the area then the largest Buddhist temple on the African continent is definitely worth making a trip to.

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Related Link: Nan Hua Temple

Japan 2014 – 30 A long walk to Sanjusangendo and the 1,001 Figures of Kannon (2014-10-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 DEC 2015

Having enjoyed a particularly fruitful time of taking in an assortment of both splendid and grandiose sights the previous day (a castle, a temple, a shrine, a pavilion, and a manga museum), we kicked things off on our final day in Kyoto with a long walk to Sanjusangendo, the informal name for Rengeo-in, a Buddhist temple which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.

DSC07706 walking the narrow streets of kyoto

It was a particularly long, long walk to get there, but we took the back roads which meant a lot of narrow streets, some nice surprises in terms of things bumped into, and then eventually the massive reward of reaching our intended destination without having got completely lost! (Google Maps is awesome.)

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Belonging to and run by the Myoho-in temple, which part of the Tendai school of Buddhism, the Rengeo-in temple was founded in 1164 and then rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed in a fire.

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Measuring an impressive 120 meters, the temple hall is Japan’s longest wooden structure. The name Sanjusangendo (literally “33 intervals”) derives from the number of intervals between the building’s support columns, a traditional method of measuring the size of a building.

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In the center of the main hall sits a large, wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon (Senju Kannon) that is flanked on each side by 500 statues of human sized 1000-armed Kannon standing in ten rows.

(Note that the actual statues have only 42 arms each. Subtract the two regular arms and multiply by the 25 planes of existence to get the full thousand.)

Ryan and I entered the working temple and despite neither of us being particularly spiritual, the scene in front of you is quite surreal. Row upon row of statue, eerily standing there in front and looking down on you made for quite a disturbing sight!

Obviously we weren’t allowed to take any photos of this inside of the temple, which means I’ve turned to Google to provide you with a hint of what we saw:

sanjusangendo kannon statues

Outside of the statues, the temple also has a few other things going for it. In January, the temple has an event known as the Rite of the Willow, where worshippers are touched on the head with a sacred willow branch to cure and prevent headaches.

A popular archery tournament known as the Tōshiya has also been held here, beside the West veranda, since the Edo period.

Also, the duel between the famous warrior Miyamoto Musashi and Yoshioka Denshichirō, leader of the Yoshioka-ryū, is popularly believed to have been fought just outside Sanjūsangen-dō in 1604.

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We strolled around the gardens, took in the sights, and with that, we both decided that we had now seen enough ancient temples and shrines to last us for a while, meaning that next up was something completely different – a trip to the aquarium!

Related Link: Sanjusangendo | Rengeo-in

Things to See in Sri Lanka: Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) Travel Attractions 18 JUN 2015

Sri Dalada Maligawa (or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.

Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site mainly due to the temple.

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Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.

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The brick wall which runs along the moat and Bogambara lake is known as water waves wall. Holes in this wall are build to light coconut oil lamps. The main entrance gates which lies over the moat is called Mahawahalkada. At the foot of Mahawahalkada steps there is a Sandakada pahana (moonstone) which is carved in Kandyan architectural style. Mahawahalkada was totally destroyed in a 1998 bomb blast and rebuilt afterwards along with sandakada pahana other stone carvings. Elephants are depicted in stone on the either sides of the entrance. A Makara Torana and two guardian stones are placed on top of the staircase.

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Hewisi drummers’ chamber is situated in front of the main shrine. The two storeys of main shrine are known as “Palle malaya” (lower floor) and “Udu malaya” (upper floor) or “Weda hitina maligawa”. The doors of the Weda Hitana Maligawa are carved in ivory. The actual chamber which the tooth relic is kept is known as the “Handun kunama”.

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The golden canopy built in 1987 over the main shrine and the golden fence which encircles the main shrine are other notable features. The tooth relic is encased in seven golden caskets which engraved with precious gemstones. The caskets have a shape of a stupa. The Procession casket which is used during the Esala Perahera is also displayed in the same chamber.

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Related Link: Sri Dalada Maligawa | Wikipedia