The Giant Buddha Temple

The Giant Buddha Temple was originally built in 1098AD of the Western-Xia dynasty with history more than 900 years. It’s the only survival Western-Xia royal temple in China. The temple has been renovated many times through history. The Giant Buddha Hall, Buddhist Classics Hall and clay pagoda are the only original buildings that survive through the history.

The Giant Buddha Hall is 48.3 meters in length and 24.5 meters in width. It houses the biggest giant sleeping Buddha of China, which is 35.4 meters long, with shoulder breadth 7.5 meters. Even the ears are 2 meters long. The Buddha has a wooden frame and sculpted by clay. Behind the Buddha the sculptures are the ten disciples of the Buddha. There are two donors standing beside the head and foot of the Buddha. Along the passage, there are the clay sculptures of the 18 arhats. The walls inside the Giant Buddha Hall are decorated with Buddhist murals of different dynasties, such as 24 heavenly deities from Qing dynasty. A mural dated from Ming dynasty is very special. It was painted on the wall behind the giant Buddha. The painting is about the folktale – Journey to the west or Monkey King. It includes all the 4 important figures in the novel, the monkey king, Xuanzang, Pigsy and Sandy. Because the mural was painted even earlier than the novel, some experts believe that the folktale was widespread in the area at the time. The Hexi corridor was an important passage that connected China with mid Asia. As the monk Xuanzang travelled along the corridor to India, Zhangye city was an important stop. So it’s very reasonable for the folktale to be popular among the locals.

In the Buddhist Classics Hall, there are more than 6000 tomes of scriptures, some of which, written in gold and silver, are the rarest and most precious.

 The Clay Pagoda, one of the Five Elements Pagodas in Zhangye, has 13 stories, on the first and the second stories of which are four miniature pagodas, a feature rarely seen in other pagodas.

It is said that the Bieji Queen (a famous queen of the Yuan Dynasty) once lived in the Giant Buddha Temple, giving birth to Kublai Khan there. The Italian traveler Marco Polo, impressed by the magnificent architecture of the Giant Buddha Temple and by the prosperity of Zhangye city, lived here for more than a year.

Admission Fee: CNY 41
Opening Hours: 08:00 am – 17:30 pm
Recommended Time for a Visit: One Hour
Suggestions: Except for the magnificent Giant Guddha Hall, It’s worthwhile to visit the small museum and the Buddhist Classics Hall in the back. There is a Qing dynasty complex – The Shanxi Guild at the north-east corner and a clay pagoda at eastern end. Don’t miss them! The rest buildings were all constructed recently.