The most famous sight in Zhengding, the Longxing Temple (also known as the Longxing Monastery) was first built in 585 AD. However, most of the current structure dates from the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD).

Visitors enter at the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, which contains some impressively scary statues of four of the heavenly kings (whose job is to guard the gates to hell).

Beyond this is the ruins of the Hall of Sakyamuni's Six Teachers. It was built in the North Song Dynasty but sadly collapsed in the 1920s. Originally, there stood seven statues of Buddha – Sakyamuni (the founder of Buddhism) surrounded by his six teachers. Now only the base remains, with some offerings placed in front.

Walking around this, we reached the Manichaean Hall. One of the highlights of the temple, I really enjoyed admiring the detailed woodwork and murals inside.

Next up we passed through a small archway into a large courtyard area. Here several stele stand (protected by small buildings) and I was particularly excited by a giant wooden rotating bookcase.

Walking through to the far end of the courtyard brought us to the Dabei Pavilion, the main hall. This contains a huge (over 20 metres high) Song Dynasty bronze statue of Guanyin – the Goddess of Mercy. This statue is considered one of the four treasures of Hebei Province and pretty impressive.

We then passed through a couple of smaller halls and a rather lovely bell en route to the Longteng Garden, a peaceful retreat at the rear of the temple complex.

All in all, a really lovely afternoon trip and definitely a must-see in Zhengding.


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