Qianxi Temple in Longmen Grottoes – Location and Highlights

qianxi temple in longmen grottoes

Qianxi Temple (潜溪寺), also known as the Zhaifutang (斋祓堂), is a cave temple situated at the northernmost end of the western hill of the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang. Its exact founding date remains unknown, as there are no records of it in the poetry and literature of the Tang Dynasty. The name of the temple first appeared in some poems and writings from the Song Dynasty. Legend has it that it was once the villa of Li Fan, a prime minister of the Tang Dynasty. It flourished during the Song and Jin Dynasties, and during the Qing Dynasty, the original wooden structure of the cave was replaced with a gable roof. In 1990, it was reconstructed to mimic the Tang-style wooden structure, with stone slab flooring.

The cave of Qianxi Temple in the western hill of Longmen Grottoes measures over nine meters in height and width, with a depth of nearly seven meters. The ceiling of the cave features a shallow-carved grand lotus flower. The main Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, sits on a lotus pedestal, with a serene and compassionate expression. His chest is full, and the folds of his robe drape gracefully, while his proportions are well-balanced, exuding wisdom and serenity. To his left is his great disciple, Kashyapa, and to his right is his lesser disciple, Ananda. Alongside them stand Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva. Their expressions are peaceful, and their proportions are harmonious, with flowing garment lines. Particularly noteworthy is the Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva on the southern wall, with a robust and dignified demeanor. A life-size replica of this figure is displayed in the Forbidden City Museum.

Amitabha Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas on either side are collectively known as the Western Triad, representing the three holy beings who preside over the Western Pure Land, the object of devotion in Pure Land Buddhism. Each door of the cave is adorned with a Heavenly King, depicted with high cheekbones, large eyes, clad in armor, and trampling upon demons, emanating a powerful and majestic presence.

Other Attractions in Longmen Grottoes

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