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Asoka Temple
Sitting at the piedmont of Yuwang and Mount Mao, Baochuang Town, Yin County, Asoka Temple is one of the key Buddhist temples nation wide. Formerly located at the foot of Yuji Mountain, it was set up in 282, and then moved to where it stands now. After years of rise and fall, the whole temple occupies an area of 124,100 square metres. The existing 22,867 square metres structure area comprises more than 600 halls, towers and pavilions, which were built along the hillside. Positioned at the axis are the Gateway, Second Gateway, Fangsheng Chi (pond for setting captive animals free), Heavenly King Hall, Grand Hall, Sarīra Hall (Buddhist Relics Hall), Fa Tang (hall for worshipping Buddha) and Preservation Hall for Buddhist Classics. On the right side there are 361 rooms including Yunshui Hall, Maofeng Caotang, Shicui Tower, Buddhist Founder Hall, Cheng'en Hall and Abbot's Chamber. And on the left, 264 rooms including Songguang Hall, Bell Tower and Dabei Pavilion. The Grand Hall, rebuilt in 1679, is 15.8 metres high and takes an area of 870 metres. It is worth mentioning that the hall is highlighted by a plaque inscribed by Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty, saying "Jue Xing Ju Yuan" (meaning both contemplation and deed have come to its ultimate end). Sarīra Hall was built in 1678 and added with over 100 rooms in 1785.

In 1818, Asoka Temple underwent further expansion and repairs. Especially between 1885 and 1903, Putong Tower Court, Yangxin Tang (Health Preservation Hall), Shuiyun Hall, Lingju Hall, Abbot's Chamber and etc. were rebuilt or added. At the same time, Fangsheng Chi was dredged and pine & cypress trees were planted. The Grand Hall and Sarīra Hall were repaired respectively in 1911 and 1916. With duplicate eaves and yellow glazed tiles, this 15.3 metres high Sarīra Hall has a stone pagoda inside where stands a Stupa inlaid with seven kinds of treasures.

The Stupa, 1.4 metres high and 0.7 meter wide, is four cornered and five storeyed carved with Buddha figures on each. On the interior top hangs a Baoqing (Golden Bell) with Sarīra (a relic bone from the top of Sakyamuni's skull) inside. Back walls of the Sarīra Hall are embedded with life-like stone carvings of Si Da Tian Wang (Four Major Gods in the Heaven), which were bequeathed from Tang Dynasty. In the Hall, there are three plaques that commands admiration. One is Emperor Song Gao Zong's inscription "Fo Ding Guang Ming Zhi Tai" (Bright Pagoda on top of Buddha), one is inscription of Emperor Song Xiao Zong "Miao Sheng Zhi Dian" (the Wonder Hall), and another reads "Sarīra Hall" inscribed by a monk named Shizhu. On the shelves of Preservation Hall of Buddhist Classics rests "Long Zang"(Preservation of Dragon Classics), altogether 7274 volumes in 724 cases printed in the reign of Emperor Yongzheng; Da Zang Jing (Grand Collection of Buddhist Classics), sand gritted version of South Song Dynasty; and Ri Xu Zang (Continued Classics from Japan), compiled in Japan but photocopied in times of the Republic of China. Being combined, they are called San Zang (Three Collections of Buddhist Classics). For long, Asoka Temple has survived such natural and man-made disasters as fires in 1930 and 1958, air bombings during domestic wartime, typhoon in 1956 and devastation of the Cultural Revolution. Since 1979, with the help of special funds appropriated by the government, the Temple has assumed a new look to meet visitors from home and abroad.

There remain two brick & wooden pagodas built in Yuan Dynasty. The one standing on the east side of the mountain is called Upper Pagoda and the other on the west side is called Lower pagoda. Pavilion like and unique within Zhejiang Province, they are 36 metres high with 7 storeys and 6 facets. Each storey is provided with a flat pedestal and eaves. Inside the pagoda is a spiral ladder reaching to the top. Two parts, the lower one cone shaped, the upper bottle like, make up the pagoda spire. These two pagodas were restored in 1981 and the eastern one was rebuilt in 1994. More invaluable relics can be found at Asoka Temple. Altogether 58 Steles of Tang, Song, Ming, Qing Dynasties, Republic of China and modern times are attracting a growing number of visitors. Among the steles, those with epigraphs entitled "Asoka's Residential Field", "Sixteen Arhats" (Tang Dynasty), "Chenkui Pavilion" (compiled and written by Sushi, a prestigious poet in Song Dynasty) and "Wonderful and Happy Spring" (compiled by Zhang Jiucheng, the Number One Scholar of Song Dynasty) share the rarity and preciousness. In addition, there are hundreds of steles and inscriptions of other renowned figures. On April 12th 1981, Asoka Temple was listed as one of the key cultural relics under Provincial protection.
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