Having a long history of about 1,400 years, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is one of the four best Buddhist temples in Guangzhou and located on the Liurong Road (meaning the Six Banyan Trees Road).
It has a rich collection of cultural-relics and is renowned both at home and abroad. Originally built in 537, the temple has been rebuilt several times, and the name has also been changed several times from Changshou Temple (meaning Longevity Temple) to Jinghui Temple and finally the current name. I
t is a name given by the great litterateur Su Dongpo in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). It is said that he visited the temple while returning to the north. During the visit, he found six banyan trees there particularly striking. The vitality of the trees put him in a good mood and cheered him up. When the abbot of the temple invited him to suggest a name, Su Dongpo wrote down its present name. Finally, the temple changed its former name (Jinghui Temple) to the name Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.
A pagoda in the temple is known variously as Six Banyan Pagoda or Flowery Pagoda. After entering by the mountain gate, the Tianwang Hall is the first hall you will see. The Laughing Buddha is there with smile all over his face to welcome visitors. Behind it is the Weituo Hall. According to legend, Weituo was a general who recaptured the Buddhist relics which had been stolen. He keeps a straight face, looking very serious and frightful, in distinct contrast with the Laughing Buddha.
The architecture that catches the visitors' eyes most is the Six Banyan Pagoda. It is a pagoda where Buddhist relics are placed. Its roofs curve upwards and look like dark red flower petals. The tip of the pagoda is like stamens, while the whole construction looks like a huge stigma high in the air. Therefore, people like to call it the Flowery Pagoda. The pagoda not only has a nice appearance, but also provides visitors a good place to overlook enchanting scenery around.
To the west of the Six Banyan Pagoda is Daxiong Baodian Hall - the main hall of the temple. The three biggest copper Buddhist statues placed there are among the biggest and most ancient Buddhist statues in Guangdong. The middle one is Sakyamuni, to the left, the Amitabha and to the right, the Apothecary Buddha. They stand for present, past and future.
Burning joss sticks is a big event when visiting the temple. Thus every year on the Chinese traditional Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, the temple becomes a busy area. Numerous people queue to burn the first joss stick in order to be blessed by gods in the coming year.
[via travelchinaguide.com website]