Located 12 kilometers east of Luoyang city, the White Horse Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China and is renowned as the cradle of Chinese Buddhism. This temple, with a large number of Buddhist items housed there, is well worth a visit.
The main halls in the White Horse Temple are the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Great Buddha Hall, the Mahavira Hall, the Ambassador Hall and the Qiyun Pagoda. Not only can travelers appreciate the vivid Buddha statues and solemn architecture, but they can also listen to the historical stories and feel the spiritual world of Buddhism in the White Horse Temple.
There are two new temples which have been built in recent years, which are the Indian Temple and the Thailand Temple. The materials of the temples were brought from the two countries. The Indian Temple has been completed while the Thailand Temple is under construction. The styles of these two temples are exotic, each with strong features of India and Thailand.
The architecture in the White Horse Temple is magnificent and grand. Many of the large halls consecrating figures of Buddha are old-fashioned. Many travelers come here to pray for happiness every year. In addition, there are also a great number of experts and scholars who study the history here.
History states that the site was originally used as a summer resort by the second Han Emperor, Liu Zhuang. Legend has it that in 68AD, when Buddhism reached its height in India, two Indian monks on the back of a white horse brought the first Buddhist script to Luoyang.
The emperor, a devout Buddhist believer, built the temple to house the scriptures and named it the White Horse Temple. It is said that there were once thousands of monks living in the temple, which was also used as a refugee sanctuary during the social turmoil of Wang Mang during the Eastern Han Dynasty.
The two monks who brought the scriptures from India are buried at the temple. Many monks from outside China have visited the temple, and many have spent the rest of their time in the temple. The famous Tang Dynasty monk, Xuanzhang, started his 17 years long pilgrimage trip to India from the temple. After returning, Xuanzhang became the abbot of the White Horse Temple, where he disseminated the scriptures of Buddhism for the rest of his life.
The White Horse Temple has experienced several renovations and it reached its biggest mass during the reign of Wu Zetian (the first female emperor in China) in the Tang Dynasty.
A New Year bell striking activity is held in the White Horse Temple of Luoyang every year, attracting many domestic and foreign tourists to come, and welcome a happy new year in the 108 long bells. After the bell striking, travelers can climb the the bell tower to pray for peace and happiness for the coming year.