Chinese culture and traditions have always had a close relationship with Buddhism since the old days, and the magnificent Buddhist sites that dot the landscape stand in silent testament to this fact, receiving the veneration of the devout Chinese Buddhists even today. Hidden within the modern concrete cacophony of Hebei district of the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, there lies the revered Dabei Buddhist Temple, one such relic from yesteryear that still draws devout crowds.
This ornate shrine, of which the name Dabei means great compassion, dates back to the 17th century. The original purpose of the Dabei Buddhist Temple was to act as the sacred reliquary for the remains of the venerable monk Tang Xuanzang who lived in the 7th century. Monk Xuanzang was a historian, traveller and scholar of renown, whose journeys to the west inspired the fabled character of Xuanzang appearing in the well known novel Journey to The West, made famous by the storys Monkey King. The temple stands today in a well preserved condition as a testament to the magnificence of traditional Chinese architecture.
The Dabei Buddhist temple consists of two distinct eastern and western wings which came to be as results of adding more buildings to the original temple in later years. The eastern wing of the Dabei Temple precinct is home to most of the later additions, the Xuanzang Memorial Hall as well as the main entrance. In the western courtyard you will find the older buildings which made up the original temple, and the Daixioing Hall, which is the main shrine chamber of the temple. This beautifully decorated red building houses a massive Ming dynasty Sakyamuni Buddha statue with the celestial entourage.
But sadly the skull of the venerable monk Xuanzang does not reside at the temple anymore as the holy relic was gifted to India in 1956.
If youre thinking of finding out more about the true Chinese spirit of Tianjin while there, Dabei Temple surely is a good place to start off. Its quite easy to travel to Dabei Temple when staying at a Tianjin hotel, preferably a luxury hotel in Tianjin such as the Raffles Tianjin, known for great valuefor-money deals.