According to legend, Sun Quan, King of the Wu Kingdom, came into possession of the cremated remains of Buddha. To house these relics, the king ordered the construction of 13 pagodas, and Longhua Pagoda is rumored to be one of them.
Longhua is a Buddhist temple, dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha. It was originally built in 242, and although most of the current buildings are reconstructions, as Longhua was destroyed towards the end of the Tang dynasty and rebuilt in 977. The temple preserves the architectural designs of a Song dynasty monastery, which follow the principles of the Chan School. Most buildings in the temple have been rebuilt several times throughout its history, and a restoration of the whole temple was carried out in 1954.
The temple complex is made up of five main halls, laid out in a style known as the “Sangharama Five-Hall Style” which follows a central north-south pointing arrangement.
Longhua Pagoda is the tallest structure in the Longhua temple complex, standing over 40 meters high. The seven stories of the pagoda decrease in size as they move up the height from the base. It has an octagonal layout that consists of a hollow brick core surrounded by a wooden staircase. The outside of the pagoda is decorated with balconies, banisters, and upturned eaves. The current brick base and body of the pagoda date back to 977.
Every year on the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar, the Longhua Temple Fair is held, a tradition that has been going on since the Ming dynasty. According to local legend, dragons visit the temple on this day to grant people’s wishes. The fair also coincides with the blossoming of the peach trees in Longhua Park, which makes it a beautiful time to visit.
In the past, the temple grounds have been used as a site for internment as well as for executions. It is closely linked to the devastation of the Kuomintang regime, a period commemorated in the nearby Longhua Martyrs Cemetery, which absorbed many of the extensive gardens and orchards that once surrounded the temple.
Know Before You Go
The Longhua Temple is located in the Longhua area of Shanghai.
Its street address is No. 2853 Longhua Road.
Because of its age, the pagoda is fragile and is not open to the public but can be admired from outside.