Location: Huaihe Road near Lizhi Alley, Hefei, Anhui, China [MAP]
Project Type: Courtyard, Religious
Completion Date: During the Tang Dynasty (around 907 CE)
Access: By a staircase leading up towards the entrance from Lizhi Alley. Entry fee is 10 yuan. Opening hours are from 06:30 to 18:00.
By appearance, Hefei is like that of any other large city in China. High rises line busy streets crowded with everything from pedestrians to vehicles throughout all hours of the day. However a walk down a busy shopping street in the city centre will reveal an ancient temple that has escaped the rapid industrialization of the area.
Maijiao temple reveals little from the outside, but stepping through the temples entrance will instantaneously bring you to a spot of serene simplicity, devoid of busy shoppers, suicidal bicyclists and bright flashing lights.
Though the courtyards arrangement is rather bare, its complete contrast to modern China is what keeps you glued to the spot.
A small, walled garden to the side of the main temple sports a few productive plants along with chickens roaming about as they please.
There are a few, large pots to the side that hold some water plants along with fish and turtles.
Only a short distance from here, across the courtyard, is a raised pagoda surrounded by small, delicate trees, though the striking feature here are the hundreds of pieces of cloth tied to every visible and reachable piece of branch.
You can purchase these pieces of cloth to pray for your wish to come true. One side has printed yellow words and symbols wishing for the good luck of the purchaser whilst the other side is blank, allowing for you to write your wish so that it may come true. Some of these pieces have been recently tied on, while others have been there for awhile, their ends tattered and torn from the weather abuse throughout the years.
Hidden behind this forest of red is another, smaller temple, home to a few of the thirty three Buddha statues on site. But a quick glance behind will reveal another, taller pagoda at the edge of the wall that separates the temple from the main road. From here you can see the busy throng of people going about their daily lives, a stark contrast to the serene setting just behind.
Whether it be to pray, wish for your dreams to come true or visit, the beautiful setting of the Mingjiao temple is well worth a visit.