Out of the cab and looking for the ticket office, we gazed at the red walls of Wenshu monastry which afforded us a glimpse of rooftops inside. A man in a white shirt walked past and called "You like this style?" "Of course!" we responded enthusiastically not quite sure what we would be seeing inside.
Lunch at the well known vegetarian restaurant of The Wenshu Temple was the starting point for our visit. Although many of the dishes have meet names, what happens is that vegetables are used and combined together to give the flavour and the texture of the meat which it is supposed to be. Where this not a working Buddhist monastry, I would have been convinced that my Lambs Tenderloin was exactly that.
As we stepped out of the restaurant and headed towards the rest of the monastry, a small girl aged 6 or 7 I'd guess jumped back and stared at us - perpelexed, it appeared, by seeing Westerners who, shall we say, looked somewhat different from the locals. We waved at her and she jumped into her chair and shouted something at, I presume, her grandmother before thrusting her arm over the back of her chair pointing at us. Granny didn't look. Little brother did. Curiosity had got the better of the kids. We waved again and they waved back at us. Dad got curious, smiled and acknowledged us. Not wishing to interupt their lunch (we don't know how that would be interpreted here) we stubbed out our cigarettes we waved and called "Bye-bye" - the kids and dad responded likewise with big friendly smiles. It seemed that they were as intriqued with us as we were with our new surroundings.
Not being an expert on Buddhist architecture, I am assured that this is one of the best preserved Buddhist monastries in China. And I can believe it. The interior is beautifully decorated. The whole monastry is aesthetically pleasing and real pleasure to wander around.
Six halls are aligned along the central axis predominatly red in colour. Each seperated from the next by an opening - kinda like a "piazza" but Buddhist monastry. (Sorry, I don't know the Buddhist monastry word for "piazza." Tell me if you do.) So it's pretty well ordered. Of course, the various forms and incarnations of Buddha are depicted in each of the halls and the roofs are tiled and curved upwards at the corners with animals often depicted on the corners or along the friezes.
The Wenshu Temple is one of the best preserved Buddist temples in China - it's in pretty good nick and well kept and is still home to several monks who still live and study here.
The tea rooms are, we discovered, a fine way to spend a more than a little time. For 20RMB, we collected our two cups with green tea leaves at the bottom. Settling into our bamboo garden chairs, a man with a kettle ensured an endless supply of tea.
As a cat lazed in the shade of the trees, we emerged from the enjoyable gardens towards the three story library - perhaps the most beautiful building we came across today. The ground floor sports a statue of Buddha, while the top floor houses hundreds of statues of Buddha in an whole plethroa of poses. Quite, quite remarkable. One our way down, we glimpsed several monks in the library quietly studying what we presume are holy texts from the library.
I hope the man in the white shirt is pleased we really do like this style.
Chengdu - three day stay in Chengdu - Travelogue from Chengdu, including the Wenshu Temple during our 18 day trip to China
Visit to Chongqing - Travelogue from our time in Chongqing during an 18 day trip to China
Solar Eclipse (2009) in China - the schedule - Travel plans for the 2009 Total Solar Eclipse. Includes China travel information
Impressions of China - a travelogue - Impressions of China by adventure couple Dave and Deb from theplanetD.com
China and Tibet - travel goals and achievements - Goals and acheivements for our travels to China and Tibet
Chengdu - video clip of the Wenshu Temple - Video showing the inside of the Buddhist Wenshu Temple in central Chengdu, China
Hangzhou - 2009 eclipse totality - Video clip showing totality of the 2009 eclipse as seen from Hangzhou
Leshan - video clip of the Giant Buddha - Video clip showing the Giant Buddha at Leshan in China
Lhasa - façade of the Potala Palace - Video clip of the façade of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet
No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610017
Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook