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Longhua Temple

On Christmas Day I decided to go for a stroll at the Longhua Temple. This is supposed to be the oldest temple in Shanghai, built over 1700 years ago (although it has been rebuilt several times due to fires). And as I learned, it is also the biggest temple in Shanghai. For some reason I had never been to this place before, and because it was nice weather (about 10 degrees and sunny) it seemed a good time to visit.

The temple is located about 2 kilometers south of my home (actually very close to the old Toodou office), and so it was just a short taxi ride. Next to the temple there is beautiful 7 story, 40 meter high pagoda. It must have been visible from the former Toodou office, but I had never noticed it before.

Entrance was RMB 10 for the whole complex, and it was absolutely worth it. The temple complex is quite big (about 20,000 sqm) and is in good condition. It consists of six big halls with buddhist statues and is completely symmetrical. Many people were preparing paper money, cars and even houses to burn for deceased family members (so they can use this in their afterlife). The preparation takes quite some time (several hours), especially because each piece of money had to be folded into another piece of paper. And glueing together a house from paper is also not that simple.

The temple is actually also a monestary, as many monks are living here. Most are quite young, at least the ones I saw. They sing and pray for the deceased if you give them a donation. The temple also has a vegetarian restaurant, but it was closed, so I could not try it.

It’s quite a nice place to spend one or two hours. Beautiful buildings and statues make you forget that you’re in the middle of Shanghai. Interestingly, there are hardly any foreigners there, probably because the temple is a 15 minute cab ride from the city center. Next to the entrance there is a small market that sells all kinds of Chinese candy, dried fruit and nuts. I picked up some of my favourite Chinese candy (a sticky mix of nuts and dried fruit from Xinjiang province – no idea what it is called), so for the next couple of days I know what to eat with my afternoon tea or coffee!

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