Guiyuan Temple, situated on Cuiwei Street, is one of the four biggest temples for Buddhist meditation in Hubei as well as an important Buddhist temple in China.
First built in the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911) by two monks named Baiguang and Zhufeng on the base of Sunflower Garden owned by a poet, the temple got its name form Buddhist chants: "With purity kept in mind, one has the thoroughfare everywhere." Guiyuan Temple has survived through more than 300 hundred years of repeated cycles of prosperity and decline, above all else, it is always leading the other temple in Wuhan with prosperous public worship, flourishing Buddhist ceremony and many pilgrims.
The temple was destroyed and rebuilt for several times in its history and the present temple dates from the early Republic of China (1912-1949). Covering an area of 46,900 square meters with a floor space of 20,000 square meters, the temple mainly consists of Daxiongbaodian Hall, Arhat Hall, Sutra Collection Pavilion, etc.
It is the main hall of the temple. Statue of Sakyamuni, who preached Buddhism for 45 years as the founder of Buddhism, is enshrined in this hall. On his right is a statue of Mahakasyapa, one of the ten disciples of Sakyamuni. It is said that he was of eminent virtue and was reckoned to be the first patriarch. After Sakyamuni died he continued his career. On the left is a statue of Ananda. Also one of the ten disciples of Sakyamuni, Ananda was the master of hearing and memory and was reckoned to be the second patriarch. He followed Sakyamuni for more than 20 years and is said to have compiled the Buddhist sutras.
First built in 1850AD during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing dynasty, the hall is the most characteristic building of the Temple with its constructional layout being in the four-in-one-square shape. In the Arhat Hall are five hundred statues of the disciples Buddha sculpted by two artists between 1822 and 1831. Sitting, standing or reclining, in anger, sadness or delight, they stimulate people’s imagination. The 500 arhats are now the best-preserved and very high artistic-valued group carvings in China.
Sutra Collection Pavilion
Built in 1696AD during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing dynasty, this structure is an indicative building in the temple for collecting Buddhist scriptures and art treasure. In this hall, a statue of Sakyamuni carved from a single block of white jade is most attractive. The statue, harmonizing well with the tranquility of the chambers and pavilions, companying with the incense smoke filtering through the sky, gives the temple a majestic magic. Besides, over 7000 Buddhist sutras and sutras from Japan, India, Burma, Thailand, etc are all stored in this hall.
Guiyuan Temple was in fashion for a time although its history was shorter than White Horse Temple, the best Buddhist Temple in China. It is famous not only for spreading Buddhism throughout the whole country, but also for perfect architecture, excellent sculpture and rich collection of Buddhist doctrine among Buddhist temples. In 1956 Guiyuan Temple was listed as preserved antiques unit of Hubei province and in 1983, it was appointed as one of the key Buddhist temple of Han nationality district in China by the State Council.
The temple has been a popular interesting place for tourists to visit, especially in recent ten years.