History of Nan Hua Temple
In 1992, the Bronkhorstspruit City Council donated 6 hectares of land to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order to be developed into a Chinese Buddhist, Cultural, and Educational Complex. The aim was to promote Buddhism on the African continent.
95% of the construction materials come from local sources in South Africa, including the Chinese style concrete castings of the first floor balcony handrail, which where made in Pretoria. The red wooden furniture, glazed clay roof tiles and ornaments were imported from Taiwan. The granite, stone, red clay and bronze ornaments, including the large bronze bell, came from China. Taiwanese artists executed the wall paintings on site.
About the Nan Hua Temple
Since the initial inception, the Nan Hua Temple Guesthouse, African Buddhist Seminary (ABS), Nan Hua Village, Assembly Hall , Zen Retreat Centre have been completed. The “estate” have various offerings at the respective venues. From temple tours, venue hiring, seminars and retreats all are on offer. They even have a restaurant on the premises serving authentic Taiwanese noodles and green tea to leave you feeling refreshed and energised.
It is only a 30 minute drive from Pretoria, which makes this an easy visit for the morning or an easy get away to the retreat for the weekend (which is something we now definitely consider). When you first drive up to area the temple is situated, the landscape around and the Eastern architecture really messes with your mind. Like it almost fell from the sky and got plonked in the middle of a typical South African suburb…Toyota garage and all!
But soon that is all forgotten and you are completely mesmerised by the size and scale of this place. You realise that the temple you see from the road, is actually much bigger when being confronted with it. When you pass the huge dragon-lions at the gate, you immediately subject to the respect the temple deserves. Every word spoken is toned down to a whisper and you carefully tread, not wanting to impose your Westernism onto, what feels like, sacred grounds.
Once we did a lap around the temple, which slowly made our way up. When peeking through the doorways, three humongous Buddhas were staring us in the face. Initially too scared to enter, when took our shoes off, and tip toed in. A nun turned who noticed our hesitation turned to us with a huge smile and said, “Welcome. Let me know if you need anything”. The small little gesture just made all the difference and we could relax knowing that we are not intruding.
After inspecting the ceiling, the Buddhas and the detailed wooden carvings, we were able to eventually notice the smaller detail. Two colossal upside-down cone shaped structures, contains hundreds of golden Buddhas with a little LED illuminating it.
There were glass lanterns burning in-front of each one of the three Buddha structures with name tags. The name tags had things written on them. We were almost on our way out, when we noticed the lanterns. Without skipping a beat, we made a donation, wrote on a little name card and fired up our lantern. We naturally gravitated to the left-hand Buddha…so we placed it in-front of him.
Werner had an emotional response to the offering, but as we made our way out and he turned around to take one last look at the temple, he simply could not contain his emotions any further. In some way, the experience touched him so much, he was moved beyond something he could explain.
We both feel that anyone and everyone should attend the temple. Experience the peacefulness and sincerity of the people while broadening your own horizons of cultures…now not so foreign anymore.
Useful notes & links
- Make sure you have the correct attire (modest)
- They are closed on most Mondays, so weekends are good
- Nan Hua Temple Website