The Big Buddha Temple of Xinchang is located in the southwestern part of Xinchang City and is near Shicheng Hill. This temple was built during the early years of the Yonghe period (345-350) of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). The main attraction is probably the old big sitting Buddha with an enigmatic smile carved on it. But other attractions are the scenery and nature of the area.
The area was historically known as a beautiful area in Zhejiang Province, and it is said that the temple was founded by a monk seeking the beauty there. Along with the nature, there are thousands of Buddhas and other statues that you can see in the area and temple complexes. One grotto has a big reclining Buddha statue. In the area, there is also a waterfall known for its beauty, rock formations, bamboo groves and a petrified forest. The Big Buddha Temple is located in a valley between two hills, and it is a favorite attraction for many tourists in Zhejiang Province.
The Buddha is now in the Big Buddha Temple Scenic Area. It is carved into the side of a granite grotto. It is painted with gold paint. It is thought to be a Maitreya Buddha. The figure is 15 meters tall and is surprisingly well preserved. Unlike other old big Buddhas in China, it wasn't damaged.
It is said that the local people hid the statue during the Cultural Revolution by covering it with a picture. It's nose is 1.5 meters long. It and other figures carved around it don't look like Chinese people. Perhaps they are meant to represent how Buddha and Indians originally looked or perhaps they were modeled on the Caucasians and Indians who taught Buddhism in China in the first millennium. The ears are longer than 2.7 meters. The statue's hands are carved with the palms upwards. It is said that 10 people could stand on his hands. Many consider the Buddha to be the best Buddha south of the Yangtze River.
In front of the grotto, there is a temple complex called the Xinchang Big Buddha (Dafo) Temple. It has five layers and is composed of several halls. The temple complex includes the Heavenly King Hall, the Western Hall, the Main Shrine Hall, the Dafo (Big Buddha) Hall, the Dizang Hall, and the Scripture Hall.
Around the temple site, there are other attractions such as the Free Life Pond, the Thousand Buddha Temple, and the Baoruo Valley (Prajna Valley). The Free Life Pond next to the temple reflects the surrounding trees and hills. You can see it as you enter through the gate.
On the edge of the pond on its southern side, you can see inscribed in Chinese characters the words "Nan Wu E Mi Tuo Fo" by Hongyi. Qian Silian wrote the three-character name of the pond. He wrote Fang Sheng Pond that literally means "Set Life Free Pond".
The Thousand-Buddha Buddhist Temple is located 300 meters northwest of the Great Buddha Temple. There are more than a thousand Buddha statues. Some are big, but most of them are small. Some are only a few inches tall. The statues are arranged artistically in a pleasing pattern.
The Banruo Valley (Bo1re3; Baoruo: 般若谷; Great Wisdom) is also called the Prajna Valley in the Sanskrit language. It is a highlight on the temple grounds. It is a former quarry of the Song Empire period about 1,000 years ago. During the past 1,000 years and quite recently, many levels were constructed that are connected by stone staircases, and artists rendered their thoughts. Some are new, and some are old. A waterfall tumbles from high above adding sound to the patterns and colors that mix to your eyes. Quiet inky pools of greenish water are at your feet.
Along with the Big Buddha and the Xinchang Great Buddha Temple Scenic Area, there are the Shi Li Qian Xi Scenic Area and Nanyan Temple Scenic Area. The total area is about 25 square kilometers, and you can hike around. In these nearby scenic areas, there are other major attractions that make the area a favorite of foreigners in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province.
You can hike around the trails and over the streams and watercourses to see other attractions. For refreshments, you can go to the villages or the kiosks and stands people put up. The Sawed Rock is an interesting rock with a crack near the highway. The Qiguang Clean Yard was built in 2004. There are three edifices, three buildings,three halls and three towers. In the Shuanglin Grotto, you can see what is said to be one of the the greatest reclining Buddhas in Asia. It was carved out of the hillside.
A temple was originally built there during the rule of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). According to some records, in 345 AD, a monk named Tan Guang went to Shicheng Mountain to appreciate the natural beauty of the area. It is written that he lived in a stone chamber and established Yinyue Temple where the Buddha statue was carved.
Xinchang is south of Shaoxing. There are direct buses from Shaoxing for 33 RMB. They arrive in about 1.5 hours. From the bus station, taxi rides to the Big Buddha Temple (Dafo Si (大佛寺) cost about 15 RMB (2.3 USD). Make sure they turn the meter on and bring small bills and coins so they don't cheat you by giving counterfeit money or overcharging. The 104 National Road goes near the entrance.