Zhaojue Temple – Saturday

My Saturday outing was to discover Zhaujue Temple, in the northeast outskirts of Chengdu. My first stop was an eyeglass store to buy some new sunglasses. I lost mine somewhere on campus on Friday, so I had to spend 100 yuan for a new pair. They’re probably better than my other pair from Rite Aid in L.A.

I hopped on the #1 bus and rode it to where the line ends at a huge transit plaza in a drab, depressing suburb. As with many such historic sites, the temple is surrounded by sheer ugliness, and is approached by walking underneath an elevated highway.

Confused, I walked in the wrong direction at first, but on a busy thoroughfare I discoverd an amazing complex of wooden buildings, seemingly built entirely of bamboo. It looked like a small temple complex, and not being able to read Chinese, I never really figured out its significance. The gatehouse was a cocktail lounge, and what should have been the main temple building was a large restaurant. The bamboo roofs were high-pitched, and everywhere I looked were decorative peacock motifs. There was even a caged area enclosing live peacocks, and a lovely lotus pond with a pavilion in the middle.

I walked back the way I’d come, and eventually reached Zhaojue Temple, the largest temple complex I’ve visited in China so far. I wondered around for a couple of hours, enjoying the architecture and a main temple building with three colossal Buddhas gazing down on the noisy crowds. Toward the rear of the temple I heard sounds like wild animals screeching; I thought it was noisy children in a park, but glancing at my map, I discovered that the temple is next to the city zoo!

Detail of roof with dragons

One of the temple pavilions
Eternal downcast gaze of the Buddha – actually one of three colossal statues in the main shrine
Amazing sculpture – the wall above a large mural

Eight-Cornered Pavilion, housing a two-story tall golden statue with thousands of arms

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