Guanlin Temple was built to commemorate the great General Guan Yu of the State of Shu during the Three Kingdoms Period. It is said that the head of General Guan Yu was buried here. Furthermore, it is the only complex combining a forest with a temple in China.
The structure is now comprised of halls, temples, pavilions and Guan Yu's tomb. Valuable stone tablets with elegant calligraphies can also be found here. The place is very popular among the locals who worship the valorous general by burning sticks of incense.
Features of Guanlin Temple
Guanlin Temple, about seven kilometers (about 4.5 miles) south of Luoyang City, was built in 1596, during the reign of Emperor Wanli in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is called General Guan's Tomb as well.
Guanlin Temple is the place where Guan Yu's head was buried. So, are you wondering about who Guan Yu is? He is a hero in Chinese history and is the only person respected by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists. Guan Yu was a general of the Kingdom of Shu during the Three Kingdoms Period. After he was murdered by people of the Wu Kingdom, his head was sent to Cao Cao in order to frame Cao Cao and start a fight between the Shu Kingdom and the Wei Kingdom. However, Cao Cao discovered their plot. Due to his great respect for General Guan Yu, Cao Cao had Guan Yu's body carved from eaglewood and buried the carving and the head with great honors outside the South Gate of Luoyang City. Emperors of succeeding dynasties all revered Guan Yu a lot and even worshiped him as God of War. As a result, the temple in Luoyang is splendid and grandiose.
The temple covers an area of 100 mu (about 16.5 acres). Inside the temple are halls, tablets, small stone lions and cypress. The layout of the temple highly embodies the traditional style of Chinese architecture. It is designed and built symmetrically. Moving north from the Opera tower, there is the Main Gate, the Courtesy Gate, the First Hall, the Second Hall, the Third Gate, and the Tomb of Guan Yu. The First Hall is most magnificent. On its main gate are a series of reliefs telling the well-known stories of Guang Yu. The views from other halls and places inside the temple are also beautiful.
An art gallery was also built inside the temple, displaying a collection of nearly 2000 ancient steles, epitaphs and stone inscriptions. They are really helpful to the research of ancient Chinese history.
Reviews of GUanlin Temple
This one is a real gem. It is a beautiful and colourful temple from the 16th century that honours Guan Yu (Guan Gong). He was a general in ancient China, but he has become a Taoist god. You might recognise his long bearded red face as he is a Chinese icon. The temple is also his tomb and at the back of the complex is a huge funeral mound.
It is different from other Chinese temples and really is worth spending forty minutes or an hour wandering around. There are some marvellous statues and the temple is beautifully decorated. It is only 4.5 km from Longmen Grottoes, so they combine very well to make a good day in Luoyang.
We pointed to this site on our map and showed it to our driver thinking it was the White Horse Temple. When we arrived, we were blown away how stunning this facility is. It was the White Horse which is also wonderful, but this temple was one of the most beautiful we visited during our trip to China. If I have my story straight, I believe it is the temple where Confuscious, Taoist, and Buddhist were all represented. I sacred place and very beautiful. If visiting Luoyang, I would say this and the Grottoes were my favorite sites.
How to get Guanlin Temple
You can take many buses to get Guanlin Temple from the downtown area, including Buses No. 15, 42, 55, 58, 69, etc.