Longhua Temple is an ancient temple with the longest history and the biggest size in Shanghai prefecture.
It is said that when in the period of Three Kingdoms, Sunquan of East Wu built this temple in order to show his filial piety to his mother in the 5th year of Chiwu (A.D.242), and it was named after the recordation of sutra that Bodhisattva Maitreya practised austerities to become a Buddha under the Longhua tree. Through repeated restorations, it has been resumed to its former appearance nowadays. Longhua tower is located in front of Longhua Temple, and tradition has it that it was first built in the 10th year of Chiwu (A.D.247).
The current Longhua Temple was built in the years of Emperor Guangxu in Qing Dynasty, but it basically keeps the former appearance of Buddha Zen’s monastically seven-hall system in Song Dynasty. Moreover, it is a group of rather intact temple buildings. The temple treasures up the Buddhist sutras, golden stamps and statues of Buddha etc. of Tang Dynasty, Five Dynasties, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty.
The palace of Longhua Temple is towering and glittering. And the statues of Buddha are solemn and dignified. Two points of these statues are distinctive. One is that because Longhua Temple is the rite of Buddhists, there are two Maitreya statues: the Bodhisattva statue of Maitreya, enshrined and worshiped in the Hall of Heavenly Kingand the statue of embodiment, enshrined and worshiped in the Hall of Maitreya as the so-called “Monk with A Cloth Bag”; the other is the Hall of Great Strength. Generally, there is whether “18 arhats” who propagandize the dharma Buddha or “20 gods” who protect the dharma of Buddha on the both sides of main statues of others’ halls, but inside the Longhua Temple, the arhats and gods assemble all together in the same hall.
The existing Longhua Tower is constructed with bricks and woods, which is a seven-storey and eight-profile pagoda with a height of 40.4 meters. The tower looks orange with the temple’s pole soaring into the air, and its brick body and foundation are the protoplasts that were used in the construction in the 2nd year of Taipingxingguo of Song Dynasty (A.D.977). Each floor of this pagoda is with upturned eaves and curly balustrades, and its gesture is very grand and beautiful. Until now, the pagoda is preserved as the most perfect tower in Shanghai prefecture.
On the east and west sides of Hall of Heavenly King in Longhua Temple, bell and drum towers were constructed there. The “Longhua Evening Bell” was ever one of the “Eight Scenes of Shanghai City” in times of Ming and Qing Dynasties. Since 1991, on Dec.31 annually, the activity of “tolling the Longhua evening bell to usher the New Year in” has attracted many domestic and foreign tourists. This activity has been decided as one of the state-class tourism items by National Tourism Administration .