Jade Buddha Temple

Despite the increasing modern outlook in the city of Shanghai, one of the city's most visited tourist attractions is a throwback to earlier times. In 1882, a monk dragged a 6 ft white jade Buddha all the way to Shanghai from Myanmar, with only a vague idea of how he was going to construct a temple around the precious artifact. His perseverance paid off though, and now thousands of worshippers a day (sometimes over 20,000 a day during the Spring Festival) make it a point to visit the Jade Buddha Temple. Especially as the national government continues to relax restrictions on religious ceremonies throughout the country, few locations have benefited as much as this particular temple.

Though the original temple was destroyed in 1928, the giant Buddha, along with a smaller, recumbent version of the statue were both rescued, and now rest at the rebuilt temple, located less than a mile from downtown Shanghai. Information of the Jade Buddha Temple (also known as Yufo Si) is everywhere in the city, so finding the temple is rarely an issue, even for the novice traveler. Many choose to stop off at the temple during a bike tour of the city; considering its proximity to the city center, this is usually one of the first places to rest and take in a bit of the scenic city.

Further information on the Jade Buddha Temple includes the impressive collection of rare cultural relics that are housed inside. Though consistently overshadowed by the giant jade buddha, whose jewel-encrusted body is the real draw here, the other artifacts more than hold their own with the main attraction. But no one comes for the porcelain artworks and ancient paintings that are also stored here. Though there are over 7000 Dazang sutras kept in the Jade Buddha Tower, but those are not the visual display that many visitors hope for. They come to see the gentle, bemused sanctity of the Buddha statues, covered with emeralds and agates, serene and peaceful with their rounded white faces.

Another factor that adds to the heavy spiritual element at the Jade Buddha Temple is the classical architecture style in which the temple was designed, and especially unique in the midst of the modern day flourish that is Shanghai. Though the city stays awake deep into the Chinese night, you may want to take note of the closing time, an ever-shifting bit of information on the Jade Buddha Temple that could result in a metro ride for nothing, though the exterior is still quite impressive in the orange of evening.

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