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Glamorous Offerings at Beijing Temple
|by Wu Chen|
Sitting outside the Buddhist temple beneath a thousand-year-old tree, monk Shun Xin feels a vibration in his pocket: his new mobile phone let's him know he's got a text message. "It's convenient," beams the 60-year-old monk, looking at the trendy new device with which he discusses Buddhist scriptures with believers and non-believers.
The 1,700-year-old Tanzhe Temple has indeed caught up with the times. Located some 40 kilometers southwest of Beijing, the temple even predates the city of Beijing by 800 years. Erected in 307 AD, during the Western Jin Dynasty (265- 316), the Tanzhe Temple is renowned for its close connections with the royal families of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. Covering an area of 41,600 sq. meters, the temple is built in typical Ming and Qing style architecture and is surrounded by lush bamboo gardens.
Having survived the Culture Revolution (1966-1976), when many temples were destroyed, it reopened to visitors in 1980. Both city and temple are now undergoing modernization. While Beijing is being renewed with glass and concrete buildings, the temple has used modern communication techniques to its advantage. In fact, the monks have even availed of contemporary promotional techniques to publicize the 1,700th birthday of their historic temple.
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