Baoguo Temple, is also sometimes called Baoguosi Temple according to its Chinese name. It is the largest Buddhist temple located at Mt Emei, in Emeishan city, Sichuan, China. Of all the temples in Mt Emei, Baoguo Temple is the oldest. It serves as the center for many Buddhist festivals and activities at Mt Emei every year. A true magnet for devout Buddhists and interested travelers! Baoguo Temple is the first structure that welcomes visitors at Mt Emei. Baoguo Temple is the gate to Mt Emei.
Baoguo Temple was originally called Huizong Hall with an intention of gathering Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoist together. It was first built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). And it was later renamed as Baoguo Temple by Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Bao Guo literally translates as ‘serve nation’. To this day, you can still see its horizontal nameplate on the temple gate written by Emperor Kangxi.
Layout of Baoguo Temple
A bird’s eye view of Baoguo Temple reveals a classical Chinese courtyard with structures around its edges. Taking advantage of the geographic location of Mt Emei, Baoguo Temple was built with four buildings leaning towards the mountain face. Each one is taller than the next. Baoguo Temple holds several remarkable and significant religious artifacts; keys among them are a huge porcelain Buddha that sits in the main hall; and a copper bell which is 2.3-meter high and weighting 10-ton. In Baoguo Temple there are five halls: the Gate, the Maitreya Hall, the Mahavira hall, the Seven Buddhist Hall and the Samantabhadra Hall.
The gate of Baoguo Temple is spectacular consisting of three types of roofing. And it centered around the large plaque on which Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty wrote “Bao Guo Temple” in large brush-written Chinese characters. In the front hall, there is a 7-meter high purple copper tower. It has fourteen levels with more than 4,700 Buddhist figures cast on its body. Walking through the gate of Baoguo Temple, you’ll find a newly built pavilion by where the large Ming Dynasty bell hangs. The bell is 2.3-meters high and weighs more than 10 tons. Upon being struck, it can be heard far and wide across the tranquil mountain landscape, creating a peaceful, cleansing Buddhist atmosphere.
The Maitreya Hall is filled with colored clay figure of Buddha Maitreya with Skanda standing at his back;
The Mahavira Hall enshrining the Three Saints of Hua-yan. In the middle is Sakyamuni, statues of Manjushri resting on his lotus-shaped throne; Samantabhadra stand on the left and right sides of Sakyamuni’s statue. The statues of Eighteen Arhats sitting on the seats before both sides of the gable walls.
The Seven Buddhas Hall concentrates on the seven Buddhas: Kassapa Buddha, Kakusandha Buddha, Sikhī Buddha, Vipassī Buddha, Vessabhū Buddha, Koṇāgamana Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha. On the wall, there are 4 Chinese characters famed by a wooden plaque, literarily means “Seven Buddha Brave”, wrote by renowned Song Dynasty calligrapher, Huang Tingjian.
The Samantabhadra Hall is the home of Buddhist scriptures where valued painting works of Zheng Banqiao, Kang Youwei, Zhang Daqian, Xu Beihong and some other famous Chinese artists. In recent years, a new statue of Samantabhadra Riding on White Elephant, which lies on a bed of lotus flowers, has also been set inside.
Furthermore, apart from Buddhist scriptures, calligraphy, artifacts, specimen of some living beings and the model of the whole Emei Mountain, there is a thriving and unique natural ecosystem surrounding Baoguo Temple as well as the beautiful scenery from Mt Emei itself. The grounds of Baoguo Temple are filled with small bamboo groves that are there to be explored in perfect tranquility. Butterflies and bees are attracted to Baoguo Temple as if they seemingly can sense it is a place of natural balance and growth. The thick aroma of incense fills every corner of the grounds and temple itself. Many of large congregations of Buddhists are held here.
Meals at Baoguo Temple
Baoguo Temple provides authentic Buddhist vegetarian meals. Breakfast is served between 7:00-7:30, lunch between 11:00-11:30 and dinner between 18:00-18:30. The food is of reasonable price. In the accordance with Buddhist principles, it is important travelers understand that all food is to be consumed. And waste is considered disrespectful.
Accommodation at Baoguo Temple
There is ample accommodation located near and around Baoguo Temple. There is a star-rating hotel that includes a natural hot spring. Budget or family accommodation is also available. Residence within Baoguo Temple itself is also available.