The Bodhgaya Temple of Sichuan, China


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November 17th 2015
Published: November 17th 2015
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The Bodhgaya Stupa of Sichuan Province is an amazing Buddhist temple complex an hour outside of Chengdu. A copy of the famous Bodhgaya stupa of Bihar, India. There are actually two stupas at the Sichuan location. The largest was built in the 1990s. The smaller stupa was built earlier to replace one that was destroyed during the cultural revolution. In addition there are two sets of much smaller stupas, arranged in rows, with one set commemorating the deaths of the important teachers of the temple, both Tibetan and Chinese. The temple is located in Pengzhou, situated in the very center of town, just outside of Chengdu and due north. It is a very nice small town with very polite and friendly residents.

In India the temple complex is also known as the Mahabodhi temple and commemorates the location where the historical Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment under a pipal tree. The large Sichuan stupa appears to have been built to the same height and dimensions as the Bodhgaya temple in India (approximately 280 feet tall). The central structure of the stupa is hollow with a staircase and shrines on each landing as you ascend to the very top where there is an observation deck. The view depending on the day can be fantastic with the white snow capped Himalayan range to the west.

There are a number of other copies of the Bodhgaya stupa such as in Kathmandu, Nepal, and a beautiful white marble temple in Beijing China (http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=1404).

Even on a Sunday afternoon there were very few people at the temple which is unusual for any public space in China on a warm sunny weekend day. I can only attribute the possible lack of visitors to the site to the fact that most people don't know that this place exists. As a regular visitor to Chengdu for over ten years I only learned of the existence of the temple this past August, three months ago. Only one of my friends knew of the temple but had some difficulty providing clear directions on how to drive there. None of my other long time friends in Chengdu, Chinese and Tibetan, had heard of the site. That is kind of amazing I think.

If you especially like Buddhist sites then this Bodhgaya temple is a must see when visiting Chengdu along with the Leshan Buddha, Mount Omei Shan, the Five Hundred Arhats Temple, the Manjushri Temple, the Daoist Temple, the Tsongkhapa Temple, and if possible the Dazu area (near Chongqing) for the stone carvings and Buddhist reliefs.

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