About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

14 August 2011

Nan Hua Temple

The town of Bronkhorstspruit is about 55 Km east of Pretoria (yet remarkably still part of Tshwane Municipality), and is a weird place to host the largest Buddhist centre in Africa. The history behind the placement, as detailed by the guide (I was only part of the group at the beginning) is part political (the deal was initiated as part of the mayor's trip to Taiwan), part visionary (an idea to enable cultural exchange, to bring Asia closer to Africa and also to initiate tourism) - but the peaceful surrounds of Bronkhorstspruit does bring some calm serenity to the place.

The Nan Hua Temple complex is part of a larger global Buddhist movement (BLIA) and also includes a number of initiatives in South Africa, including an IT academy, a retreat, meditation workshops, a monastery and various fundraising initiatives.

I first visited the temple, early last year, and the photos date back to then. Ever since, I have wanted to come back, but never really get round to it (it is after all quite a long trip). At least on a Sunday, there is free lunch (between 12pm and 1pm), so there is some motivation :)

It is a massive temple complex, not completely finished - and sometimes gives of a feeling of being decayed and not entirely well maintained. And the tourism plan doesn't seem to have completely worked out - as it feels pretty lonely, especially in the large temple halls. That in its own way may be its charm - similar temples in Asia (and I have been to fair number of them) are always bustling, and highly commercialised with vendor after vendor selling you either mementos or offerings. Nan Hua is far calmer and serene. It is well worth the visit - especially on a Sunday afternoon.

One of the highlights, is the many (1000?) armed Buddha, found at the back of the temple. Not sure of the mythological significance, but quite impressive. I am also not sure of the significance of the three Buddhas in the main temple, but they are impressively large, and also feature "Dharma protectors" guarding them on the sides. When I went last year, there was some youth activity going on, but yesterday there were hardly anyone there, leaving a lot more time to explore the main temple hall.