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.
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.)
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.
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?)
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.
Related Link: Nan Hua Temple