Kaifu Temple, Changsha, Hunan
(August 12, 2012)

(1) The front gate of Kaifu Temple, Changsha. The temple started its life as a summer palace for a local lord over a thousand years ago. His son then gave it to a monk, and a monastery was born. Today it houses nuns, and the buildings are supposed to date from the "turn of the 19th century."

(2) Another temple with lots of water and bridges. (The gate is about 400 meters from the Xiangjiang River, which splits the city.)

(3) There's a joke in here somewhere; Buddhism often uses the image of a boat, and "crossing over" to Nirvana. I'll work on it.

(4) This is the first hall, called the "Three Bodhisattvas Hall." The sign explains that the "Three Saints of the Western Pure Land" used to be in this building, but their "icons can no more be found." I wonder what happened? (There's a small set in the Drum Tower, perhaps an homage.) Anyway, it's now a standard "Heavenly Kings' Hall." The building does look old, though.

(5) A fine newish Laughing Buddha, with no glass to obscure the view.

(6) The courtyard was so small and tree-filled that there was no way to get a frontal shot of the main hall. This stele was the best I could do.

(7) As we've seen elsewhere, the Buddha and his attendants are all jade. The sign says they were "invited" from Burma.

(8) A very unusual way of displaying the 18 arhats.

(9) A really good Thousand-Armed Guanyin behind the main altar.

(10) In the back row of buildings was a hall with this unusual, Red-Riding-Hood-esque image of Guanyin.

(11) Outside the main compound is another new, unsightly pagoda. That's two days in a row.

(12) The altar in the Chan (Zen Meditation) Hall has six different Buddhas on it.

(13) I included this shot to illustrate a bizarre story. My camera and lenses had been in my air-conditioned hotel room; then my bag was right in front of the vent in the cab. When I took them out, condensation formed everywhere: all surfaces of the lenses, the mirror in the camera, the inner and outer surfaces of the viewfinder. I had to wait almost an hour for all the glass to warm up (and I arrived at the temple at 4 pm!). Horrifying humidity! My "wiping" efforts have left tissue fluff, and I'm going to have to have the camera professionally cleaned once I get off the road.

(14) The "misty" effect can be pleasing, but it got so bad that the auto-focus wouldn't work (and I couldn't see to focus). Time to sit down, call Lila, and wait. Thank goodness the temple was open til six.

(15) The same hall as in the previous shot, with a clear lens.

(16) Inside is a Guanyin Island; something was peculiar, though.

(17) The main figure, the walls of the room--almost everything was draped in plastic. There was some work going on; was this protection? Or was everything that new? It made Guanyin look kind of creepy.

(18) I love "Fo" rocks! Lots of temples have a rock with the character for "Buddha" engraved. This one is in a lotus pond. Someday, when I have a garden, I want one of these (and a small lotus pond, too!)

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