Amongst the most notable religious attractions in Shanghai, the Longhua Temple has a rich history too and here are some aspects of it worth knowing.
The Three Kingdoms Period
The story of the Longhua Temple is said to go all the way back to the Three Kingdoms Period. In 242 A.D, the monarch of the Kingdom of Wu who is said to have acquired cremated remains of the Buddha decreed that 13 pagodas were to be built across the region to keep these relics; the Longhua Pagoda which is part of the temple complex is believed to be one of them.
Other Chinese Dynasties
Over the centuries, the temple has witnessed the changes in Chinese dynasties and though it became a noteworthy site, it was destroyed during war times. Thankfully, in 977 A.D, during the Northern Song Dynasty, it was rebuilt and later, in the Qing Dynasty, it went through renovations too. In more modern times, in 1954 to be exact, the complex was renovated once more though the Song Dynasty architectural style was preserved.
Second Sino-Japanese War
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937 to 1945), the Japanese had their biggest civilian internment camp in the vicinity of the temple. This was mentioned in the “Empire of the Sun” novel by J.G. Ballard who also claimed that the pagoda served as a flak cannon tower by the Japanese. Interestingly, in the book’s movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg, the pagoda can be seen from the internment camp. While the pagoda is off limits to the public, you can get some great pictures of it as you explore the Longhua Temple.
The Temple Today