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July 10, 2014

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Jade Buddha Temple to be moved 30m

THE main pavilion of Shanghai’s Jade Buddha Temple is being moved 30 meters as part of a major renovation that will also see two buildings replaced.

Renovations are set to create more room for worshippers and address fire safety concerns at the popular temple at Anyuan Road, home to two jade Buddhas.

The Grand Hall, dating from 1918, will be moved north by 30m — along with three huge Buddhist statues inside — in an operation never before attempted at a temple in China, a temple official told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“This will release some 500 square meters space in the main square for visitors to pray,” the official said.

The current square is only 495 square meters and can get very packed, especially at the Spring Festival and the first and 15th day of each lunar month when people go to pray, he said.

Safety concerns caused by tightly packed crowds will be addressed by the extra space, said the official.

The temple is among Shanghai’s most popular attractions, with 1.5 million visitors a year, including 500,000 from abroad, according to the temple.

But some of the existing buildings struggle to cope with visitor numbers, while they also pose fire risks, the official said.

“The temple was actually an old residential house whose owner donated it to the temple to house the two jade Buddha sculptures,” said the official.

Its east and south pavilions will be demolished and replaced with wooden structures in the style of a tradition Chinese temple, but with modern fire safety facilities, he said.

Preparatory work is already under way. Renovations start on July 31 and will take two years, during which the temple will remain open, the official said.

And the delicate operation moving the main pavilion will begin mid next year.

The temple began looking at the renovation plan two years ago, after experts highlighted safety concerns.

Many buildings had been eaten by insects, warping the structures. Pillars have also inclined to near the safety limit, said Chen Yang, director with the Shanghai Housing Quality Inspection Station.

Temple abbot Juexing has also expressed concerns about the Jade Buddha Hall, where the two precious sculptures are located, due to the huge number of visitors.

And building work in the surrounding area in downtown Putuo District has caused subsidence, the abbot said.

The temple’s two jade sculptures of Sakyamuni include the treasure of the temple, a 1.95-meter-tall sculpture.

It is said no matter where the visitor stands, the Buddha is always looking at them with smile.


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