Famen Temple is located in Famen town, Fufeng County, 120 kilometers west of Xi'an City, Shaanxi province. It was widely regarded as the "ancestor of pagoda temples in Guanzhong area".
Architecture of Famen Temple
Famen Temple currently maintains such a layout as Grand Hall following Pagoda. The True Relic Pagoda is regarded as the middle axle of the temple. Before it stand the Front Gate, the Front Hall, and behind it is the Grand Hall of Great Sage. This is the typical layout of the early Buddhist temples in China.
The True Relic Pagoda has been altered several times. It evolved from four-storied pavilion-like pagoda in Tang Dynasty to thirteen-storied brick pagoda in Ming Dynasty. The current version was rebuilt based on the surveyed drawing of the pagoda in Ming Dynasty before it collapsed. It is made of armored concrete as skeleton, and then covered by grey bricks. Inside the pagoda there are sightseeing platforms for tourists.
The underground palace was restored to the structure of Tang Dynasty. Only few severely damaged parts were replaced. The whole palace was built by white marbles and limestone tablets. Inner walls and stony gate are all engraved. During the renovation of the underground palace, a circular basement was built surrounding the Tang palace, and Buddhist shrines were included. The preserved Buddhist finger relic rests at the center of the underground palace.
The western division of the temple is Famen Temple Museum, including multi-functioning reception hall, treasure hall and other buildings.
History of Famen Temple
Built during the Eastern Han Dynasty to enshrine Sakyamuni's sarira, Famen Temple, which was built around the dagoba, was originally named "Asoka Temple."
During the Sui Dynasty, it was renamed "Chengshi Buddha Mandala." In the Tang Dynasty, it was given its present name "Famen Temple." Later, by holding several ceremonies enshrining the relic of Sakyamuni's finger bone, Famen Temple became a world-famous Buddhist temple. The most representative structures in the temple are the Famen Temple Pagoda and Famen Temple Museum.
At the center of the temple is 13-tiered octagonal pagoda under which, it is said, a sliver of the finger bone of Sakyamuni was discovered. In 1981, it was found that the pagoda was gradually sinking into the ground. This led to reconstruction, during which, in 1987, an Underground Palace was unearthed. At present, this is the largest Buddhist underground palace discovered so far. Many royal treasures and jewelry were found here - more than 2,000 pieces surrounded the Tang mandala (geometric designs, usually circular, symbolizing the universe). The most precious item was the veritable Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha.
Judging from the grand architectural style, the Underground Palace is thought to have been established during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). But why were such precious treasures stored under the pagoda? Tracing back to a high point in Chinese history, Famen Temple was the royal temple during the Sui (581 - 618) and the Tang Dynasties. Emperors during the Sui and Tang believed that enshrining and worshiping the bone of Sakyamuni would bring riches and peace to the land and its people. So an offering of treasure was made to the finger bone and it was housed in the Underground Palace.
Famen Temple Museum was established in 1987 and includes most of the precious treasures from the Tang Dynasty removed from Underground Palace. Gold and silverware, colored glaze ware, porcelain and silks are all on display. Due to its popularity with tourists and their curiosity about the relics, two new exhibition halls were established in 2000. The exhibition area has been expanded from 500 square meters to 3,000 square meters.
Namaste DagobaNamaste Dagoba was completed on May 9, 2009 after construction for 3 years. The Namaste Dagoba is used to enshrine the only relic of Sakyamuni's finger bone in the world. The full height of the dagoba is 148m. The numbers "148" were chosen because the "1", symbolizes that the Buddha does not differ from all other beings. The Buddha is only the awakened being while other beings are yet to be enlightened. The "4" and "8" denote the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, the birthday of Buddha. The architectural design of Namaste Dagoba represents the Buddhist thought of unification, concord harmony and peace. The one and only relic of Sakyamuni's finger bone in the world was enshrined in the underground palace in the Namaste Dagoba. The finger bone is brought up to the first floor at the Namaste Dagoba on the 1st day and 15th day of each lunar month plus Saturdays and Sundays for tourists and devotees to pay homage.
How to get Famen Temple
Address: Famen town, Fufeng County, 120 kilometers west of Xi'an City, Shaanxi province
1. Take Tourist Bus No.2 at Xi'an Railway Station, get off at Famensi Museum station. The bus departs at 08:00 and back at 15:00. Bus ticket is CNY25.
2. Take Long-distance Bus at Xi'an Western Passenger Bus Station.
3. Take Long-distance Bus bound for Fufeng County at Xi'an Western Passenger Bus Station and then change to the bus bound for Famen Temple.
4. Visitors holding valid entrance ticket of the Temple can take free single trip on tourist bus "Sheng Tang Zhi Lu" from the west gate of the Tang Paradise; combined ticket of Famen Temple and Tang Paradise for free round trip of "Sheng Tang Zhi Lu" Bus. The buses depart at 08:00, 09:00, 10:00 and 11:00 and return at 15:00, 15:30,16:00 and 16:30.
Official Website:Famen Temple