It can get extremely busy in February, during the Lunar New Year, so time your visit accordingly!
The Jade Buddha Temple was founded in 1882 with two jade Buddha statues that were imported to Shanghai from Burma. They were sent by Chen Jun-Pu, a wealthy Chinese resident in Burma during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor in the Qing dynasty. The larger statue is two metres tall, weighs a staggering three tones and depicts a sitting Buddha; the smaller one is a reclining Buddha that represents the Buddha’s final moments.
The original temple was destroyed, but the statues were saved and a new temple was built around them in 1928. Upon entering the temple the first sight on your left is the Hall of Heavenly Kings, containing statues of the eponymous kings who each look upon the four cardinal points. Opposite is the Grand Hall, where thousands of worshippers pray to the Buddha — past, present and future. On the other side of the Grand Hall is a serene courtyard, where stairs spirit you up to the Jade Buddha Hall.
Photographs of the Buddha statues are not permitted, so you will have to see for yourself. It is worth it. These statues are not only cultural relics but also exquisite artworks. Both are carved from whole white jade, encrusted with agate and emerald, and they are resplendent. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate them; far from it. The statues and their remarkable setting makes for a peaceful and transcendent idyll in Shanghai, a very modern and thrilling city.
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