Caotang Temple in Huxian County, Xian
Caotang Temple in Huxian County Facts
Caotang Temple (Straw Hut Temple) is located at the northern foot of Guifeng Mountain in Huxian County in the south of Xi'an. It is 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city center, bordering the Fengshui River on the east and facing rolling hills to the south. Built at the end of Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 - 420), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China.
Type: Culture & Temples, Buddhism
Address: Guifeng Mountain, Huxian County, in the south of Xi'an City.
Best Seasons: Autumn
Recommended Visiting Hours: about 1-2 hours
Popular Activities: Worship Budda
Opening Hours: 07:30–18:00
Ticket: March-November: CNY 30
December-next February: CNY 15
Why is Caotang Temple So Special?
- Built at the end of Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China.
- It is not only a renowned old temple, but the birthplace of the Three-Treatise School of Buddhism. Due to the emperor’s worship of Buddhism, the Buddhist master Kumarajiva(鸠摩罗什) was invited to Chang’an (present Xi’an) to translate Buddhist scriptures. It was the first historic translation of foreign scripture.
- Kumarajiva founded The Three-Treatises School, the earliest of the eight great Buddhist schools established in China. This temple became his Bodhimanda and the birthplace of The Three-Treatises School.
Where is Caotang Temple?
Caotang Temple (Straw Hut Temple) is located at the northern foot of Guifeng Mountain in Huxian County in the south of Xian. It is 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city center, bordering the Fengshui River on the east and facing rolling hills to the south.
How to get to Caotang Temple
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- Take Bus
Take Huanshan Tourist Bus Line 1 at east side of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda North Square to Caotangsi (Caotang Temple) Station.Take bus No. 921 from Xi’an Bus Station (located on Fengqing Road), and get off at the Caotangsi Nankou Station.
The distance from xi ‘an (bell tower) to Caotang Temple is 37.3 kilometers, which takes about one hour. Road through Taibai Road, Xifeng Road and 107 Provincial Road.
The same journey, 2-4 hours, you can enjoy the Qinling scenery on the midway.
Built at the end of Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China. Stricken by flood and fire, the present temple was rebuilt under appropriation from government and with the help of public donations. The present temple was part of the Xiaoyao Garden during the Later Qin dynasty (384 – 417 AD). It is not only a renowned old temple, but the birthplace of the Three-Treatise School of Buddhism. Due to the emperor’s worship of Buddhism, the Buddhist master Kumarajiva was invited to Chang’an (present Xi’an) to translate Buddhist scriptures. It was the first historic translation of foreign scripture.
Kumarajiva, a monk, had traveled to many countries and had a good knowledge of different languages. Whilst dwelling in Caotang Temple, he was responsible for outstanding achievements in sutra translation; his masterpieces of translation reached up to 94 parts，425 volumes. Kumarajiva made a great contribution to the development of Chinese Buddhism, and was the earliest of the four great translators of Buddhist scripture. He founded The Three-Treatises School, the earliest of the eight great Buddhist schools established in China. This temple became his Bodhimanda and the birthplace of The Three-Treatises School.
The Shanmen is 11-metre (36 ft) wide and 6.8-metre (22 ft) deep and only has one door. The hall is flush gable roof style (硬山顶). Under the eaves is a plaque with the Chinese characters “Caotang Temple” written by Zhao Puchu, the then Venerable Master of the Buddhist Association of China.
- Four Heavenly Kings Hall
The Maitreya Buddha and Four Heavenly Kings’ statues are enshrined in the Four Heavenly Kings Hall.
- Mahavira Hall
The Mahavira Hall enshrining the statues of Sakyamuni, Amitabha and Bhaisajyaguru. The two disciples’ statues are placed in front of the statue of Sakyamuni, the older is called Kassapa Buddha and the middle-aged is called Ananda. A plaque with “Mahavira Hall” written by Zhao Puchu is hung on the architrave. The statues of Eighteen Arhats stand on both sides of the hall. The hall has a double-eave gable and hip roof (重檐歇山顶).
- Dabei Hall
The Dabei Hall (Hall of Great Compassion) was built in the Qianlong period (1736–1796) of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). It is 18.21-metre (59.7 ft) wide and 9.5-metre (31 ft) deep. The hall is flush gable roof style. In the center of the eaves of the hall is a plaque “Xiaoyang Sanzang” (逍遥三藏) written by monk Miaokuo (妙括) in 1947.
- Memorial Hall of Kumārajīva
The Memorial Hall of Kumārajīva was built by monks of Japanese Nichiren Buddhism. It is 24-metre (79 ft) wide and 16.5-metre (54 ft) deep. A 120-centimetre (47 in) high wood carving statue of Kumārajīva which sitting on a lotus throne is placed in the hall. At the back of his statue is a painting of flying apsaras which was painted by Japanese painter Mise (真美子). Several steles of poems written by Zhao Puchu and other Japanese poets are inlaid on the walls.
- Dharma Hall
The Dharma Hall is 28-metre (92 ft) wide and 13-metre (43 ft) deep. In the meddle of the hall, a 2-metre (6 ft 7 in) high wood carving statue of Vairocana stands in the lotus throne with thousand petals, which has a little Buddha statue on each petal. the altar was carved with one thousand little statues of Buddha, which known as “Vairocana nestling among thousand Buddha” (千佛绕毗卢).
- Mist Well
Why it called mist well? Because legend that there is a giant rock under this well and a dragon lying on it, therefore it also called Dragon Well. The mist is the exhalation of the dragon coming out of the well. However, it’s a legend;The main reason for the mist is terrestrial, there are rich in geothermal resources around the temple and a lot of hot springs have been excavated. Especially in autumn and winter, the steam rises up through crevices on the surface, and develops into a thick mist. It seems though, as if all the mist flows out of Caotang Temple, so people called this scene Caotang Mist, one of the Eight Famous Scenes of Xian. From September to December is the best touring time.
Recommended Visiting Routes
Main structures from the Shanmen to the Abbot’s Room are aligned with the central axis and divided into five countyards. At the very front are Shanmen, followed by Four Heavenly Kings Hall, Mahavira Hall, Dabei Hall (Hall of Great Compassion), Hall of Ksitigarbha, Hall of Three Saints, and finally Abbot’s Room in the rear. On both sides of the central axis are Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Memorial Hall of Kumārajīva, stone pagoda, Hall of Reclining Buddha, Pavilion of Guanyin, and ring-rooms.
- Louguantai National Forest Park
- Cuihua Mountain in Xian
- Heihe National Forest Park
- Qinling National Botanical Garden
- Qinling Wildlife Park
- Chongyang Palace in Huxian County
- Gaoguan Waterfall
- South Wutai Mountain
- Xian Taiping National Forest Park
- Xiangji Temple in Xian
- Xianyou Temple Museum in Zhouzhi County
- Xingjiao Temple
- Zhuque National Forest Park
- Zhongnan Mountains
Useful Travel Tips
- The best time to travel: In October and November, the weather turns cold and the temperature drops, but the weather condition is better, it is easier to enjoy “The Mist of Caotang”(草堂烟雾) in the morning, which is one of “Tongguan Eight Sights”.
Admission Fee: CNY 25 for peak seson; CNY15 for off season
Opening Time: 09:00-17:00
Time for Visit: 1-2 Hours
If you need accommodation, some hotels nearby are recommended: OYO Oriental Business Hotel, Jimo Culture Inn, Xi ‘an Chang’an Haoting Hotel, A Cinema Hotel, Happy Post Hotel, Tuwo Holiday Hotel, etc.