Temple of the Eight Immortals
Chinese name: 八仙宫 (Baxian Gong) or 八仙庵 (Baxian An)
Location: on Changlefang Street, Beilin District, Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province.
Entrance Fee: 3 Yuan
Opening time: 09:00-17:00
How to get there: take bus No.709 and get off at Baxiangong Zhan (八仙宫站); or by buses No.102, 43, 27, 203, get off at Jishiguai Zhan (鸡市拐站) and walk north along the Gengxin Street (更新街) to the Changlefang Street, and then walk east for some 100 meters.
Brief Introduction to Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals
Chinese tradition has it that Baxian An or Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals of Xi'an was completed in Song Dynasty (960-1279) and underwent repairs repeatedly in its following dynasties. In 1900 (Qing Dynasty) when the Eight-Power Allied Forces intruded Beijing, Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxv were forced to take refuge in Xi'an, where they issued 50 kilograms of silver dollars to construct memorial archways for the temple and titled it "Longevous Eight Immortals Taoist Temple", hence the current name. Today the horizontal inscribed board inscribed by Cixi is still hung in the temple.
Being the largest and best-known Taoist temple in Xi'an, the Eight Immortals Temple occupying some 73,333 square meters from the main gate to the rear courtyard. On every 14th of the fourth month and every 9th of the ninth month in Chinese lunar calendar, Taoist pilgrims would converge at the temple to attend the annual temple fair that lasts for 3 days and the grand worship ceremony.
Main Structure of Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals
The temple can be divided to be three parts on the whole:
The main components of the first part contain the mountain gate, the archways, the screen walls, the bell and drum towers, and five halls. Entering the gate, visitors can see the bell and drum towers standing on the left and right sides respectively and the Bridge of Meeting Immortals sitting in the middle of the courtyard. The bridge is said to be built in memory of Wang Chongyang (founder of Quanzhen Branch of Taoism), who was enlightened by the Ganhe River by Ludongbin (a famous legendary immortal of Taoism). Inside the main hall Linggong Hall, the colored statue of Yulingguan (a Taoist patron saint) is enshrined and worshiped, with General Green Dragon and General White Tiger alongside.
The second part is the core of the temple and the plaque hanging here is said to be the handwriting of Emperor Guangxv. The Eight Immortals Hall is the main shrine of this part, where grand Taoist ceremonies and activities are staged. In the center inside the hall there are the colored clay sculptures of Emperor Donghua of Taoism and the eight immortals.
On the front of the third part is the Doumu Hall with the calligraphy of Empress Dowager Cixi. The immortal Empress Doumu is the leader among the many immortals in this hall. At the eastern courtyard, there are the Luzu Cave, Hall of the King of Medicine, and Taibai Hall.
About the Eight Immortals of Taoism
The Eight Immortals of Taoism have been being widely known among Chinese people since the ancient times. Most of their real identity could be found in historic records of different dynasties, however, the members of the eight were not fixed until Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), namely, Tieguaili (铁拐李), Hanzhongli (汉钟离), Zhangguolao (张果老), Lancaihe (蓝采和), Hexiangu (何仙姑) (the only female), Ludongbin (吕洞宾), Hanxiangzi (韩湘子), Caoguojiu (曹国舅).
As the tradition goes, the hardwood clappers, fan, crutch, bamboo flute, sword, calabash, horsetail whisk, and flower basket that the Eight Immortals hold are seen as holy articles of Taoism. Among all of the literary and artistic works about the Eight Immortals, the story of Eight Immortals Cross the Sea is best-known, in which each of them did it by their own magic skills.