Dharma-Gate Monastery, West of Xian
Main Temple of Buddha-Relics in China
Just North of the Qinling and Zhongshan Ranges
|western part of
Fǎmén-sì -- 法門寺, Dharma-Gate Monastery, Beopmun-sa in Korean
-- is the original and major Chinese temple to enshrine sarira relics of Sakyamuni Buddha (out
of four) in traditional times. It is located just north of the western end of the Zhongshan sub-range
of the Qinling Range, and must be considered a cultural asset of both of these sacred mountain-
groups. It is about 110 kilometers west of Xian City, in SW Shaanxi Province, on vast flat farmlands.
Famen was highly patronized by regional kings for hundreds of years, who kept expanding its
shrines and buildings, and then in the Sui and early Tang eras (late 6th cen to mid-8th cen), it
became one of the largest and most important monasteries in all of China, being declared the
"Imperial Temple". It's fortunes went up-and-down over the next 1200 years, retaining high
importance and never abandoned. It was badly damaged during China's mid-century chaos,
but since 1990 it has been rebuilt on a grand scale for tourism purposes.
Famen Temple's 13-story Pagoda (built in the early Ming Dynasty, recently rebuilt) replaced a
Tang-era 8-story Pagoda, which was built over the original stupa established as early as the
end of the Han Dynasty (~200 CE), which was the first stupa built in NE Asia to enshrine sarira.
Recently an entirely new gigantic compound has been built beside it to handle
the massive pilgrim & tourist flows -- including a titanic new pagoda designed
by a famous Chinese architect from Taiwan, to display the sarira relics and
other treasures in a modern way -- it is now the largest Buddhist stupa on earth.