Before leaving Australia, Graham and I were trying to make the most of our time together. We took a quick weekend trip to the Nan Tien temple in Wollongong south of Sydney. It’s the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere and an absolutely beautiful, peaceful place.
Nan Tien Temple known as “Southern Paradise” is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. The temple focuses on the exchange of eastern and western cultures; the interchange of the traditional and the modern; and also the adaptation with the local communities. Not to mention, the nurturing and educating of devotees and the general public. Over the past ten years, Nan Tien Temple has become one of the favourite venue for religious study groups, school excursions and community group outings. Nan Tien Temple offers regular events, such as meditation retreats, excursions, art and craft classes etc. Nan Tien Temple is not only a place of Buddhists attraction in Sydney but also one of the most well known international tourist attractions. It attracts more than a few hundred thousand visitors from all over the world all year round. In addition, it plays an important role of propagating the Buddha Dharma and promoting the exchange and harmonization of the eastern and western cultures as well as all religions.
I’m not a religious person but I do think that religious places are beautiful and I love visiting them. Nan Tien features a number of different temples, each ornately decorated and allow you to give different kinds of offerings. Some had incense, rice, candles or flowers and each offering stood for a aspect of life that could use some cleansing or prosperity.
In the first temple Graham made a donation, I made a prayer and then received this itty bitty scroll with good advice Behind me you can sort of see the statues and decoration but cameras weren’t allowed :/
The second temple was set up higher than the first and was surrounded by smaller buildings for teaching and seminars. There is a room for learning caligraphy, restaurants and tea rooms. This temple had a big bell and drum (I wanted to hit it so bad!) and had a beautiful view of the mountain side and the Pagoda in the distance.
This was NOT ALLOWED but I couldnt help it…it was so impressive! Each little light on the was a small recess with a statue of buddha. The lights were lit in prayer. Here you could light a candle in prayer or tie a wish to a small tree. All over the grounds of the temple were lily ponds surrounded by many small buddha statues and each one was very different. Apparently, buddha isn’t one person but rather a name to refer to someone who has reached enlightenment.
After leaving the temples we climbed a very big and steep hill to ring this gratitude bell. I wasn’t feeling grateful when I got there but it was a beautiful view and a beautiful bell. From there you follow back down the hill to the Pagoda. I was surprised to find that the pagoda is a very tall mausoleum filled with small compartments for ashes. The bottom floor is a temple and each level up has small compartments with brass plates naming those buried there. On the grounds there is also a crematorium.
It was a great trip and I really recommend a go if you’re in the area!