Photos: Tibetan Temple in the Fall

I thought we were headed out to Dayi to check out the yellow leaves of the gingko trees in late Autumn. Turns out my old friend and travel partner Zhuang had a surprise in store for me and the gang of moms I brought with me: the gingkos we gaped at are the last of thousands planted around an old mountain-top temple during the Ming Dynasty by a Zen Master named Rujian. The temple, Baiyan Si (白岩寺), is the only Tibetan Buddhist temple built in Sichuan outside of the traditional Tibetan areas of Ganzi and Aba. It is located about 60km west of Chengdu in Dayi County and you’ll need a car to get there. (See map)

The temple is currently being re-furbished and there are gingko saplings lining the road and the stairs up to the main temple complex. The complex itself seemed deserted until I banged on an old bell, rousting out the abbot who then scolded me for being a heathen. Most visitors are photographers coming for the colors: yellow leaves, red tiles, green leaves, and white cliffs. Some photographers have put together amazing shots, like Lao Yan, who visited in 2008.

There is little tourism here because the whole area is beautiful in a simple clean way. There are no major tourist attractions to draw the developers and their theme parks so a trip out to the deeper reaches of Dayi or Chongzhou is always rewarded with good air, good food and simple quiet pleasures. Below are my best efforts at capturing our trip (thanks Charlie for editing these):

Cuancuan and Xiaogui lead their moms up the mountain to the temple

Xiaogui takes a break on the way up

Zhuang and my youngest son, Damian

Man climbing up the steps towards the sunlight

Playing under the tree

A gingko branch hangs down over us

Trees accentuate the yellow and red of Tibetan Buddhism

This is the type of place I could sit in forever

There were prayer flags hung all around the temple

Imagine waking up every morning to gingkos and silence

I love the way the golden leaves look against the Sichuan sky

This blot of gold just burst out of the surrounding green leaves

Cuancuan makes a run for it

Baiyan Temple is Sichuan's only Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of traditionally Tibetan areas


View Baiyan Temple in a larger map

Conclusion

I had a blast visiting Baiyan Si and considering it’s not far from Chengdu, it’s worth a visit. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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About Sascha

Sascha Matuszak is a writer and commentator on domestic and international culture and politics. He's lived in Chengdu on and off for twelve years and currently makes his home in the South of Chengdu.

10 Responses to “Photos: Tibetan Temple in the Fall”

  1. Beautiful, those trees remind me of fall in Virginia. How did you get out to this place?

  2. we rode in a fat chrysler van down the Chengwenqiong Expressway and took the Dayi East exit and then headed through the hills to Jinxingxiang. You can also take the Chongzhou exit, drive thru Chongzhou and Huaiyuan and come up to the temple from the north. Check the google map, should be working. if it’s not let me know asap

  3. Brave Chengdu

    The map seems to work perfectly, many thanks for this post.

    I’d offer a word of warning to anyone attempting to visit this place; I tried last Fall, from nearby huaiyuanzhen. After some typically protracted negotiations we secured a ride, but we were deposited (abandoned?) at baiyangsi 白羊寺, ‘white sheep temple’. This temple is geographically (and clearly in the local vernacular) nearby, but I guess is a considerably different – and disconcerting – experience.

    I’ve tried to create a map here showing the 2 places and their proximity to each other, so others might avoid our trial:
    http://j.map.baidu.com/5VUlc

    Regards

  4. We headed back via huaiyuanzhen and stopped a few times for directions. Best to leave Chengdu with your own car–I’ll post a number in the forum. We had hot pot on huaiyuanzhen at a place called 竹棒火锅

  5. It’s built outside of the Tibetan areas, no wonder the style is different from other Tibetan temples. Never heard of this place before, however it seems so peaceful, definitely will pay there a visit. By the way, is the mountain there high, is there any streams among the forest, and do they provide accommodation for tourists? Thank you for recommending such a nice place to go.

    • not high at all, can get to the top in less than an hour … there is a really cool arhat hall leading from the lower complex to the top of the temple … i didn’t see any accommodations and as for streams, small ones yes, but nothing really big. just the water that flows naturally down from any high place.

  6. Is this place as peaceful as it looks? I would love to visit.

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