Caotang Temple

Xian Caotang Temple, Xian Attractions, Xian Travel GuideCaotang Temple is located at the northern foot of Guifeng Maintain tain in Caotangying Village of Huxian County, some 50 kilometers southwest of the city of Xi'an.

Once a part of Xiaoyao Garden in the period of Late Qin (401 AD), Caotang Temple later became a sacred place where the Buddhist master Kumarajiva translated Buddhist scriptures. Of Indian blood and born in Quici (now Kuche Country of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), Kumarajiva possessed extraordinary talents and thus was called a prodigy when he was small. At only 17, he left home together with his mother, and became a monk. He was already versed in three Buddhist classics. Thus he gained the name, Master Tripitaka (Master of Three Buddhist Classice). After miscellaneous ups and downs, Kumarajiva was invited to Chang'an in 401 AD by Yaoxing, king of later Qin, and was treated as the national master.

He stayed with 3,000 other monks in the imperial garden, where 97 Buddhist scriptures were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese. They amounted to 427 volumes, the greatest effort ever undertaken till that day in Chinese history. Because of his versatility in both Sanskrit and Chinese, every one appreciated Kumarajiva's translation. He has been referred to as one of the three greatest translators of Buddhist scriptures in China. The translation office of that day was a simple thatch-roofed house; hence the name Caotang Temple.

Pavilion in Xian Caotang Temple, Xian Attractions, Xian Travel GuideA well inside the temple possesses quite a unique character that it emits gusts of mist now and then. The Annals of Huxian County read "There is a piece of stone on one side, halfway down the well. The legend goes that whenever there is a snake lying on the stone, the mist would come out, clouding over the southwestern part of Chang'an". The mist traveling as far as the ancient imperial capital of Chang'an under favorable winds, represent one of the eight tourist attractions of Chang’an—The Mist of Caotang Temple. The real cause of the mist, however, might be geothermal vapour, which, once out of the well, gets mixed with the smoke of incense over the temple. An elegant and antique-looking pavilion has been built over the well. It has the inscriptions by the famous calligrapher and Buddhist Zhao Puchu, "The Misty Well."

The temple is richly planted with lush cypresses and bamboo, and fragrant flowers. The quiet environment and fresh air make it an ideal place for tourists.