1. February 2010. Harbin’s beautiful Jile Temple, also known as the Monastery of Bliss, was constructed in 1924 by Master Tanxu, a famous disciple of the Tiantai Buddhist clan. Although firmly under the radar as a Harbin attraction, the temple stands as the biggest Buddhist building complex in Heilongjiang Province and draws a steady flow of worshippers.
2. February 2010. Located on East Dazhi Street in the city’s leafy Nangang district, you can get out here from the city centre on one of the many buses that stop by (3, 6, 14, 33, 37, 53, 55, 66, 74, 92, 104, 105) or maybe just jump on line 1 of the Harbin Subway and get off at the Engineering University. The area directly outside the temple is a bit rough and ready and a favorite haunt of beggars and the disabled, who make an immediate beeline for foreigners.
3. February 2010. A seven-story pagoda dominates the main courtyard, along with a huge bronze statue of Sakyamuni, the legendary sage whose teachings heavily influenced the birth of Buddhism. But I found myself more interested in this pagoda statuette and the tradition of coin throwing. The man was trying to land a coin in the top platform, a so-called appeasement to the gods of wealth.
4. February 2010. The smell of incense burning wafts through the entire temple complex. And with daily temperatures of minus fifteen, the urns are also a great opportunity to warm one’s hands by the fire before moving onto the next courtyard.
5. February 2010. There are several striking halls to pass through that are home to a series of impressive Buddha statues. The most inspiring is The Hall of Mahavira with its two commanding stone lions standing guard at the entrance. Jile Temple is open all year, but is best seen in April during the Buddhist festivals of the 8th, 18th and 28th. Whatever the date, the entrance fee is a negligent 10RMB.
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