Seven-Pagoda Temple, short for Seven-Pagoda Buddhist Temple of Gratitude, is named after the seven pagodas before the temple. The temple is located in East Baizhang Road in Ningbo City. It is nominated by the State Council as a national key temple in the Han regions.
Seven-Pagoda Temple was built in 858 A. D of the Tang Dynasty. The first abbot of the temple was Master Xinjing, then the abbot of Tiantong Temple. Master Xinjing, known as Zanghuan before he became a monk, was born and brought up in Huating. During the Huichang years of the Tang Dynasty, he was the abbot of Tiantong Temple and led his people to build Five-Buddha Pagoda at Xiaobailing. After he became the abbot of Seven-Pagoda Temple, Master Xinjing dedicated himself to the temple's renovations and the cultivation of Zen spirit. According to historical records, a gang of rebellious soldiers broke into the temple in 861 A.D of the Tang Dynasty. They were astounded by what they saw: Master Xinjing sat there in meditation, completely unmoved by the commotion. In great awe, the rabble hushed, kowtowed to the abbot and withdrew from the temple. To honour the virtuous abbot, the county gentry sent a report to the emperor in request of renaming the temple as Qixin Temple (meaning where the heart rests). In the early Ming Dynasty, Japanese pirates often ganged up on coastal villages of China, leaving the residents no peace. To protect the civilians, in 1378 A.D., Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty sent General Tanghe, the Duke of Xinguo, to evacuate the islanders of Zhoushan to Jiangdong, Ningbo. In addition, the Duke also moved the statue of Guan Yin (Avalokitesvara or Goddess of Mercy) from Zhoushan's Puji Temple to Seven-Pagoda Temple and renamed the Temple as Butuo Temple. For this reason, Seven-Pagoda Temple has close contacts with Mount Putuo, for ever since pilgrims and visitors to Mount Putuo would also come to worship the Thousand-handed Guan Yin (or Avalokitesvara) in enshrined in Seven-Pagoda Temple. In most temples the Grand Hall enshrines the statue of Sakyamuni in the front and the statue of Guan Yin in the back, or sometimes Guan Yin resides in an individual hall. But in Seven-Pagoda Temple alone, the Thousand-handed Guan Yin is installed in the front of the Grand Hall. The place is also known as Yuantong Hall.
The temple consists of Hall of Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall, Three-Sage Hall, Hall of the Abbot, Library of Sutras, Hall of Providence, Pavilion of Jade Buddha, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Hall of Buddhist Rites, and the East and West Wing-rooms. These constituents are carefully arranged, complete with exquisite carvings and images. Together they form an imposing house of holiness. For its important status, Seven-Pagoda Temple is one of the four famous Buddhist monasteries in east Zhejiang (the others are: Tiantong Temple, King Asoka Temple and Guanzong Temple).
Suggested Visitor's Itinerary
Hall of Heavenly Kings--Grand Hall--Three-Sage Hall--Hall of the Abbot.
(Written by Li Xiaowei)