Probably the most popular monastery in downtown Chengdu, Wenshu (Manjusri) Monastery keeps most of the historical vestiges ― the temples, cloisters, walls, columns and roof tiles ― to tell its story quietly in the busy, boisterous whereabouts in the city.
History and Buildings
The history of Wenshu Monastery dates back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589) and the monastery prospered in the Sui and Tang Periods (581-907). The reconstructions in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) made the monastery the largest and most famous Buddhist temple in the city center.
Stepping into the temple, you will be impressed at the first sight of the grand and elegant halls featuring the typical characteristics of traditional buildings in Western Sichuan.
The 82 columns of the halls are made of huge stones ― so big are the structures, it is said, that people had to sprinkle water on the ground and get it frozen and hence more slippery for easier transportation of the stones to the construction site.
A small library hides itself in the Buddhist monastery where there are quite many books on Buddhism, providing a quiet environment for people interested in Buddhism to read.
The Monastery and Local People
Many of the local residents in Chengdu are attracted to the various activities regularly held at the monastery, among which are the Bell Tolling Ceremony on the eve of the Chinese New Year's Day, the Laba Donation in winter, the recitations and so on.
If you want to know more about local lifestyles, don't miss the outdoor tea house at the monastery. Sitting on the comfortable wooden chair while enjoying the warm sunshine in the tea houses is quite a different experience.
Also there is a vegan restaurant at the monastery. The restaurant, called Xiangyuan (Garden of Fragrance), offers a wide range of vegetarian dishes.
Imagine "double-cooked pork" made from beans!
On the opposite side of the street at the front door of the monastery there is a restaurant Called Zhang Lao'er Liangfen (Liangfen is a kind of jelly make of beans), which offers Liangfen, noodles and other snacks very popular for their rich flavors and favorable price.
And you can always see long queues at the two pastry shops next to the monastery, the Royal Bakery (宫廷糕点) and Butter Sweet (闻酥园).
These two old brands are the must-buy for their wide choices and good price.
Another attraction in the neighborhood is Wenshu Fun, a theme street that hosts a larger number of shops, workshops selling products of intangible cultural heritage, such as Shu Embroidery and Shu Brocade.
Tips: how to get there
Metro: Metro Line 1, Wenshu Monastery Station
Bus: No.16, 52, 55