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Caotang Temple

Xi'an Caotang Temple (Chines: 西安草堂寺)

Brief Introduction
Located in Huaxian County,Xian city, Caotang Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China. It was founded in Eastern Jin Dynasty(317-420), when an Indian monk named Kumarajiva traveled to China and translated Buddhist scriptures here, the Caotang temple became a buddhist monastery. Kumarajiva, he was born in India and had unusual talent when he was young. When he was seven years old, he left home travelled with his mother and became a monk. He was proficient in the three Buddhist classics. So he was regarded as Master of Three Buddist Classics. 

After miscellaneous up and downs, He came to Chang'an and was treated as the national master by the king.At that time,he stayed in the imperial garden and translated the Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese with other monks. It has a great infuence of the history in China. Because of he was proficient in both Sanskrit and Chinese, Kumarajiv’s translated works was appreciated by every one in China. He was regarded as the three greatest translators of Buddhist scriptures in China. Because Kumarajiva translated in a simple thatch-roofed house,due to this reason, the temple was named Caotang temple.

History of Caotang Temple
Caotang Temple was founded at the end of Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 - 420)and completed in 401AD. The original one was destoryed because of the flood and fire, the present one  was rebuilt under support of government and social donation. During the Later Qin Dynasty, the temple was part of the Xiaoyao. It's a famous and well-known temple as well as the birthpalce of the Three-Treatise School of Buddhism.Because the emperor belief in Buddhism and he invited buddhist master to Chang'an to translate the buddhist scriptures.It was the first historic translation of foreign scripture. Kumarajiva,the master of buddhism who had good skill in 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.


What to see in Caotang Temple

The Hall of Heavenly Kings
It's the largest hall in Caotang Temple.There are Buddha Gautama sculpture,the statue of Kumarajiva,the Laughing Buddha and Four Heavenly Kings.The statue of Kumarajiva which made of one wood and the wood was donated by the Japanese buddhists.The Laughing Buddha with big smile and big paunch also sitting the hall, that is his typical image.Four Heavenly Kings sitting on the side of the hall, two on each side with different thing on thier hand,if they worked together,thay can protect the temple and make the world harmony.

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.

The Kumarajiva Sarira Stupa
After Kumarajiva passed away.His students built the stupa in order to in memory him.The stupa is 2.5 meters high and 12 stories in total.It designed with jade and marble in different colors.The carvings on the stupa are show the exquisite handcraft. It is said Kumarajiva promised to avoid any mistakes in his translations; otherwise his tongue should be burned. So his students collected the unburnt tongue as sarira and constructed the stupa to in memory of  him. They are all make the stupa as a delicate and valuable culture treasure.


Giant Bell
It's a precious ancient bell in Shaanxi Province. It made in 1591, the giant bell 2.6 meters in high, 2 tons in weigh.The giant bell is well preserved, so it still keeps the clear outline.You can find the patterns of dargon,phoenix and lion on the bell feet also you can the name of donors on the body.  The function of this bell are much different from other bells. This is associated with a story,in order to made this bell, the monks went out and asked the villagers for donate the iron or money. When a monk came across a poor widow and asked her for donations. But the woman refused the monk because they lived in a poor life, and had no food for her son to eat.The woman told the monk that she only could give was her son. The monk got into silence. After the bell was finished, it sounded like a baby crying when it struck, which made people feel heartbroken. Due to this reason, the bell never been struck and just laid dowm here.

How to get there
Bus Routes
1. Take Huanshan Tourist Bus Line 1 at east side of Big Goose Pagoda North Square to Caotangsi (Straw Hut Temple) Station.
2. Take bus No. 921 from Xian Bus Station (located on Fengqing Road), and get off at the Caotangsi Nankou Station.

Admission Fee: CNY 25 for peak seson; CNY15 for off season
Opening Time: 09:00-17:00
Time for Visit: 1-2 Hours

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