Zhangye Grand Buddha Temple was first built 900 years ago during the first year of the Yong'an Era of Emperor Chong of Western Hsia. The name of the Grand Buddha Temple has changed several times. Over the years, it has been called "Jiaye Rulai Temple", "Baojue Temple", "Hongren Temple", among other names. China's largest indoor reclining Buddha, the Nirvan of Sakyamuni Buddha, lies peacefully in this temple on a 1.2-meter-high altar in the center of the hall. The length of the body of the Buddha is 34.5 meters, the shoulders are 7.5 meters wide, the ears are 4 meters long and the feet are 5.2 meters long. A man could lie on the middle finger of the Buddha, while eight people could sit shoulder-to-shoulder on the Buddha's ear. This makes it easy to imagine the sheer magnitude of the sculpture.
The current structures in the Grand Buddha Temple are the Grand Buddha Hall, the Sutra Depository and the Earth Tower. The Grand Buddha Hall is huge in scale, at 33 meters in height and as long as nine rooms. There are two engraved bricks on both sides of the gate of the palace. The left side displays an inscription, "Reaching the Elysian Fields" and "Western Paradise". The right side has inscribed "Three Buddha in the Nirvana" and "Respect the Elysian and Develop the Sutra". There is also a clay sculpture with wooden roughcast that is 34.5 meters long, has shoulders 7.5 meters wide, feet that are 4 meters long and ears that are 2 meters long. The figure is covered with gold leafs and is painted in various colors, making it so vivid that it seems awake. However, if you try to call on it, the sculpture seems to be sleeping. There are ten students behind the lying Buddha. Next to the two houses stand 18 arches. The frescos on the walls represent descriptions of the stories "Journey to the West" and "Shan Hai Classic" (a book on ancient Chinese geography). More than six thousand Buddha Sutras were granted by Emperor Yingzong of the Ming Dynasty in the Depositary of Buddhism. Zhangye served as an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. See China Highlights' tours to explore the Silk Road, or let's help you customize a tour to visit the Silk Road.
How to Get there?
Buses leaving on an hourly basis are available between the two cities in the East Station of Zhangye. Tourists can also charter a motor tricycle in Shandan County, which costs 8 yuan round-trip. On the way back, tourists can visit Aili Museum and other sites.