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White Horse Temple

Location:12km away from Luoyang City;
Opening time:7:30-5:30, daily;
Best time for visit: all year long
Recommended time for a visit:2 hours
Open: 7:30-5:30, daily; Tickets:RMB35.

How to Get There

1) Take Bus No.56 and get off at Baimasi.
2) Take a Taix.


If you are having a Luoyang package tour,our Luoyang travel guide introduce the White Horse Temple to you,which is one of the Lhasa tourist attractions,thus adding color to your Luoyang China tour.
Located about 12km away from Luoyang City, Baima Si (White Horse Temple) established by the Han Dynasty in 68 AD when Buddhism started to spread.
Baima Si (White Horse Temple) was highly reputed as the "the originating court", and the "cradle of Chinese Buddhism". Since it established, the temple has experienced the vicissitudes of centuries. It was rebuilt for several times, in which the restoration during the reign of Emperor Wu Zetian was especially notable for its large scale.
Baima Si is facing the south on the east-west axes. Covering an area of 200 mu, the temple contains several main architectures: Tian Wang Hall, Great Buddha Hall, Da Xiong Hall, Jieyin Hall, Qingliang Terrace and Pilu Pavillion. There is one tomb each at the southeastern and southwestern corners of the temple respectively where two accomplished monks from India were buried. A pagoda named Qiyun Pagoda of about 200 meters once stood at the southeast of Baima Temple. This pagoda was destroyed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) by war and in the 15thyear of the Dading reign of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), a 13-storeyed square pagoda was built at the same place, and the pagoda is called Baima Temple Pagoda now. The pagoda has a unique style, and is of high artistic value as well as one of a few ancient buildings of the Jin Dynasty extant in the Chinese Central Plains. It was listed as the National Key Temple in 1983.


According to legend, the Eastern Han emperor Mingdi dreamed of a golden figure flying over his palace with the sun and moon behind its head. The emperor told his ministers about the dream, and they suggested the figure may be the Buddha in India.
A delegation was thus sent to India to learn more about Buddhism. After three years, the delegation returned with two eminent Indian Buddhit monks, She Moteng and Zhu Falan (also spelled Kasyapamatanga and Dharmavanya or Moton and Chufarlan). The monks brought with them a white horse carrying a bundle of Buddhist sutras and figures.
The next year, the emperor ordered the construction of White Horse Temple to honor the arrival of Buddhism in China and the horse that carried back the sutras. It was China's first Buddhist temple. The introduction of Buddhism in China would have a significant influence not only in the religious sphere, but on Chinese morals, philosophy and ethics.
The first Chinese version of the Sutra of Forty-two Sections was produced at the White Horse Temple, and the temple increased in importance as Buddhism grew within China and spread to Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
In 258, a royal Kuchean monk, Po-Yen, translated six Buddhist texts into Chinese at the temple, including the important Infinite Life Sutra. In 1992, with the assistance of Thai and Chinese donors, the Hall of the Thai Buddha was constructed slightly west of the old temple.


The temple faces south and is aligned along a central axis starting from the entrance gate followed by several halls and courtyards in succession. The temple compound covers an area of 200 mu (13 hectares (32 acres)), and faces south. A stone paifang (archway), a three door covered archway, has been recently built, 150 metres (490 ft) in front of the original gate. The stone horses at the front of the temple are in the Ming architectural style, representing the white horses which carried the scriptures and the Indian monks to China. Between the archway and gate lies a pool with fountains, crossed by three stone bridges. The two horses at the entrance gate facing each other are made of green stone dated to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Entering the temple today, a number of plaques (both in English and Chinese) and signposts are seen, which guide the visitors and pilgrims through the various halls of the temple. The plaques briefly explain the various statues installed in each hall. The halls are discerned in the inscriptions on the plaques, include the 'Hall of Greetings', 'Hall of Six Founders', 'Hall of jade Buddha', the 'Hall of Heavenly Kings', Hall of Mahavira and Hall of Changing Ge (repository of ancient scriptures).
In the courtyard, large incense burners are kept for worshippers to light incense sticks, creating a pungent odour. In the Main hall and other halls where various images are worshipped, the altars are filled with fruit and other offerings made by the devotees. Multicoloured tapestry hang from the ceilings of the halls and lighted candles float in the basins, presenting a divine spiritual setting.

Sightseeing in depth

- Hall of greetings:The smallest hall in the temple is known as the "Hall of greetings". It is a relatively new building that was built during the 9th year of Guangho period as replacement to the original hall which was burned down at the beginning of the Tonghzi period. This small hall has deified statues of three western paradise (Indian) saints. Amitabha, the founder, is at the centre and is flanked by Guru Avalokiteswara, the God of Mercy on the left and Mahashataprapta on the right.

- Hall of Six Founders:The six founders of the temple whose statues are worshipped in the 'Hall of Six Founders' belonged to the sect of Chan. The names of the founders as displayed, in the order of their succession: Bodidharma, the first founder of the temple who hailed from ancient India where he was the 28th generation patriarch preaching the Buddhist philosophy, the second founder was Huike, the third founder was Sengcan, the fourth founder was Daoxn, the fifth founder was Hongren and the sixth founder was Huineng. Subsequent to Huineng, five schools of Buddhism and Seven Orders were established.

- Hall of the Jade Buddha:In the 'Hall of the Jade Buddha', an image of the Sakyamuni Buddha has been deified. The 1.6 metres (5.2 ft) tall image made in jade was donated in 1988 by a Chinese man settled in Burma. This elegantly sculpted and cherished statue has a precious stone embedded in its forehead. Before it was shifted to this temple in 1992, it had been stored in the Pilu pavilion.

- The Hall of Heavenly Kings:The first large hall in the temple complex is known as 'The Hall of Heavenly Kings' where statue of Maitreya, known as the laughing Buddha, is the main deity deified right at the forefront of the hall. This statue is flanked on the eastern and western sides by four heavenly kings, each representing one fourth of the universe. The eastern side is ruled by Chigua (guardian of the State) carrying a Pipa, the western side is controlled by Guangmu (Sharp-seer) with a dragon in his hand, the southern direction is represented by Zengzhang (Growth Protector), carrying an umbrella and the northern direction is represented by Duowen (Knowledge Preserver), carrying a Pagoda. In addition, there is also a statue of Skanda (a high ranking heavenly general and defender of Buddhist law) with back to the Maitreya statue.

- Hall of Changing Ge:Hall of Changing Ge, built in 1995, is a repository of ancient scriptures and has more than ten types of Buddhist texts, including the Longzang Jing Dazong Jing, Dazeng Zong Jing, Tibet Jing and so forth. An ancient Buddha statue of China is installed at the centre of the repository. The making of this Buddha statue is traced to the Eastern Han Dynasty. The statue was misplaced at the early 20th century. However, it was later found in Thailand and was replicated in bronze into two 97 centimetres (38 in)) tall statues and then gilded. One of these is deified in the library and the other was sent to Thailand.

- Hall of Mahavira:In the "Hall of Mahavira", there are statues of three principal Buddhas. The central image is of the Sakyamuni Buddha. This statue is flanked on the left by the Bhavisyajya guru and on the right by Amitabha; both these in turn are flanked by two heavenly generals named Weituo and Weili. Statues of 18 arhats adorn the side of the hall. All the statues were made in ramie-cloth during the Yuan Dynasty. The walls on both sides are adorned with carvings of ten thousand Buddhists. A statue of Jialan is installed facing north of the backdoor.

Peony Festival

Peony Festival (mudan huahui) is an important flower festival, which is held in Luoyang every year on April 10-25 and which attracts large crowds to the city and the White Horse Temple. The legend linked to this festival is that Peony flower did not follow the orders of the queen Empress Wu of the Tang Dynasty to bloom during winter and she became enraged that it did not obey her command. As a result, she ordered that Peony Flower be banished from Xi'an to Luoyang. It is this banishment which is celebrated as the Peony Festival in Luoyang.


The temple's story begins with the dream of Emperor Mingdi and his establishing the temple in 68 AD honouring the two Indian monks and the white horses that brought them to China with Buddhist scriptures. The two monks translated many scriptures while living in the temple, which was named as White Horse Temple. They also died in the temple precincts and are buried in the first courtyard of the temple. Following the establishment of the temple, 1000 monks lived here practicing Buddhism.
According to 'The Chapter on the Western Regions' of the Hou Hanshu (Book of Later Han), which was based on a report to the Emperor c. 125, but was not compiled until the 5th century: "There is a current tradition that Emperor Ming dreamt that he saw a tall golden man the top of whose head was glowing. He questioned his group of advisers and one of them said: "In the West there is a god called Buddha. His body is sixteen chi tall [3.7 metres (12 ft)], and is the colour of gold." That is why the Emperor sent envoys to Tianzhu [Northwest India] to inquire about the Buddha's doctrine, after which paintings and statues [of the Buddha] appeared in the Middle Kingdom."
There are numerous differing accounts explaining how the temple was established. Yang Hsuan-chih says in the preface to his book, A Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Lo-yang (completed c. 547 CE), that, after his dream, Emperor Ming ordered that statues of the Buddha be erected at the [K'ai-]yang Gate (Opening to the Morning Sun Gate) of the Southern Palace and on near the [Ch'ang]yeh Terrace (The Eternal Night Terrace).He, however, makes no mention of the temple.
The Emperor is said to have sent a monk or monks to India or Scythia who returned carrying the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters on a white horse. The Sutra was received by the Emperor and housed in a temple built outside the walls of Luo Yang. It was China's first Buddhist temple.
Other versions mentioned in the book Indian Pandits in the Land of Snow by Sri Sarat Chandra give the following legendary versions:The legends related to this temple have direct link to the emergence and spread of Buddhism in China. Two visions are stated in this context. The first vision was witnessed by Chow Wang, the fifth ruler of the Tang dynasty. The Emperor saw, in the southwestern region of China, a very bright light in the sky, like a halo or aureola from the west which lit the whole space. The astrologers of his court predicted that a saint was born in that quarter of the world where he saw the bright halo light. It was also prophesied that the religion practised by the saintly person, would spread to China. This was recorded by the King in his royal register. This year happened to be the year when Gautam Buddha was born in India.
After all these words, you must be attracted by   Luoyang,thus adding color to your Luoyang China tour.

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