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Fo Guang Shan
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIn 1967, the Venerable Master, Hsin Yun, acquired a large bit of land in Dashu township not far from Kaohsiung City. Soon after that, the story of Fo Guang Shan monastery begun, with the construction of several shrines, schools, and community buildings. The monastery was briefly closed from 1997 until 2000, to allow the residents to continue their monastic practices without disturbance from the outside world. However, upon request from the local community and Taiwanese government officials, the doors of Fo Guang Shan reopened to the general public. Nowadays, parts of the monastery can be visited on a day trip from Kaohsiung, and this trip will truly provide the ultimate Buddhist adventure park experience.
The order of International Buddhist Progress Society has since then encompassed 173 countries around the world. The purpose of these monasteries is not just the propagation of Buddhist teachings, but also public education, healthcare and modernization of Buddhism, its adaptation to modern society. Fo Guang Shan monasteries around the world establish children’s groups, schools, medical centers, elderly homes, wildlife conservation areas, and centers for Buddhist studies. Members of the order give public lectures on Buddhist philosophy and life on TV and radio, in prisons and many venues overseas. Several branches of Fo Guang Shan around the world organize educational programs and long-term temple stays for those interested in Buddhist teachings and monastic life.
ArchitectureGilded statues of Buddha and white cones of pagodas , wide paved roads and narrow pathways through the forest, the massive Buddha Memorial Hall and friendly monks and nuns who will escort you around the premises – Fo Guang Shan is truly an unforgettable temple of Taiwanese hospitality.
Opened in the end of 2011, the Buddha Memorial Center contains the ancient Buddha tooth relic saved from Tibet during the cultural revolution and then passed on to Venerable Hsin Yun for safekeeping. Although some Tibetologists have questioned the authenticity of this particular relic, it is safe to say that, like with any religious items, its main purpose is to act as an idea and symbol that gathers the devotees from all around the world. The entire complex is located right behind the main temple and consists of a welcoming hall, eight Pagodas, Bodhi Square, Terrace, Memorial Hall, Four Stupas, and the statue of a sitting Buddha.
Getting thereBuses from Kaohsiung train station: 8011, 8010 (journey takes 2 hours)
Buses from Zuoying railway station: 8501 (journey takes 3 hours)
Best Time to VisitChinese New Year (usually held during the end of January) always calls for special celebrations and it is a great time to visit the temple. Taiwan tends to be quite rainy during the winter season so bringing waterproof clothes is always advisable. However, the temple complex looks enchanting in the fog with red Chinese lanterns dangling in the wind.
See and LearnFo Guang Shan monastery offers a variety of university courses in social studies and management, cultural studies, Buddhist studies and much more. There are also summer express courses of the Chinese language, as well as a whole year's programme for Chinese language and culture. Both Taiwanese and international students are offered a scholarship for graduate and undergraduate courses.
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Author: wilhelminamurray. Last updated: May 17, 2015