Founded in 1882 and rebuilt in 1912, Shanghai’s Jade Buddha Temple is an active place of worship for Shanghai’s practicing Buddhists and one of the city’s premier historical attractions. The temple was built to house two Buddhist relics that were bestowed on a Chinese abbot when he visited Burma centuries ago. The centerpiece of the temple is a seated Buddha made of pale green jade and encrusted with jewels. This precious relic is housed on the top floor of a specially designed room at the rear of the temple and requires a separate entry ticket. The room is quiet, with worshipers praying and giving offerings to the staff who guard the image. Photos aren’t allowed but postcards are available for purchase.
The second of the temple’s special relics is an elegant jade Buddha in a reclining posture that symbolizes the Buddha in death. The small statue is kept on the second floor of another, poorly marked building though a much larger replica is on display in the gift shop.
Prayer services are held inside the Great Hall in front of effigies of past, present and future Buddhas. Lining both sides of the hall are golden statues of the Gods of Twenty Heavens. To the rear stands a copper representation of Guanyin surrounded by the 53 teachers of her life.
We had the good fortune of attending a prayer service where all visitors were welcomed. The chanting of the monks and the rhythmic beating of the drums were mesmerizing.
The grounds of the temple are serene and well tended, even with the daily influx of worshipers and tourists. A colorful koi pond to the rear of the complex completes the peaceful picture and is worth seeking out.