180 Berkeley Road, Berkeley, Wollongong
Nan Tien Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere and is located in the suburb of Berkeley, on the southern outskirts of the Australian city of Wollongong –approximately 80 km south of Sydney.
Nan Tien is one of the branch temples of Fo Guang Shan, founded in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, which has over 120 branches worldwide, and more than 1.5 million members. Nan Tien is a Chinese term which means 'southern paradise.'
Fo Guang Shan Buddhism is from the Mahayana tradition which emphasises that Buddhahood is within everyone's potential reach. Fo Guang Shan followers strive to bring Buddhism into daily life and describe their philosophy as 'Humanistic Buddhism.'
The Temple was completed in 1995. The site of the Australian branch's temple was reputedly chosen by Hsing Yun due to its proximity to Mount Kembla, which is said to have an auspicious resemblance to a recumbent lion. It overlooks both Mount Keira and Mount Kembla.
The Nan Tien complex was built using traditional techniques and materials by Chinese craftsmen, but with numerous modern features. Occupying a semi-rural hillside site several square kilometres in size, it is set amidst beautiful landscaped gardens.
In addition to various meeting rooms, a museum, cultural, conference and accommodation facilities and two restaurants, the Nan Tien temple includes two massive prayer halls (known as the Great Mercy Shrine and the Great Hero Hall) within which are located multiple monumental Buddha and Bodhisattva statues, as well as a seven level pagoda intended to house the cremated remains of 7000 people.
The front shrine houses the Thousand Handed Avalokitesvara (known as Kuan Yin in Chinese culture) and the main hall houses the Five Dhyani Buddhas, Amogasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, Vairocana, Amitabha and Akshobhya. Both halls have thousands of tiny statues of Buddha on the walls. The complex also has amenities for monks, nuns and visitors, and a large garden with a pagoda.
The architecture of the complex is notable because it incorporates the features of several styles of Buddhism. The pagoda is distinctly Chinese, with flying eaves and an angular profile.
In 2011 Nan Tien Temple won 'The Major Tourist attraction' of the NSW South Coast award and also the 'Champion Award' recognising its service to the local community. The Temple is open all public holidays and outside of these every day except Mondays.
Please come and discover for yourself the 'Paradise of the South'.
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