Mout Putuo Temple Overview
According to the annals of Mount Putuo, it was first built on the year of 916, the second year of Zhen Ming period in post Liang dynasty, on the Zhangs homestead known as “Refusal to leaving” Guanyin temple. Till the year of 1080, the third year of Yuan Feng period in Song Dynasty, The royal court gave the name of the Temple, “Baotuo Guanyin ” which later was developed into the current Puji Zen Temple. On the year of 1580, the 8th year of Wan Li period in Ming Dynasty, Dazhi, a Zen master, founded Haichao An, which later was developed into the current Fayu Zen Temple. In the middle of Wan Li period, Yuanhui, a monk, founded Huiji An which later was developed into Huiji Zen Temple. In addition, according to Yunlu Manchao written by Zhao Yanwei in Song dynasty, there was a “Guanyin Yan Temple” around the area of Chaoyin Cave in Southern Song Dynasty.
It was Zhen Xieliao, a Zen master who first founded Zhenxie An located at the back foothills of the Puji Temple. In Song Dynasty, there were monks built small huts and practiced Buddhism around the present Hemin An. During the first thirteen years(1263-1276) in Yuan Dynasty, Boyan, the prime minister asked Haradda, the marshal, to worship Chaoyin Cave. He saw Guanyin appear and later built a temple on the top of the cave. By the end of Yuan Dynasty, there were more than 300 temples, but were destroyed by the policy of Sea Ban in the year of 1387, the 20th year of hongwu period in Ming Dynasty. During the reign of Tianshun and Zhengde period, some monks came to build Ans, which were gradually prospered from the year 1465 to 1487 of the Chenhua period , but were destroyed by Japanese Pirate invasion during the Reign of Jiajing period (1522-1566). In the year of 1572, Longqin period, Minsuo and other 4 monks built a temple, but Chendian, the general of Dinghai(present Zhenhai) came with his soldiers to burn the temple, detained the monks and issued a notice that no wharfs was allowed to send worshipers and monks to cross the sea.
On the year of 1574, the second year of Wangli period in Ming dynasty, Zhenbiao, a monk whose native place was Wengzhou(present Zhoushan city), together with other monks came to build small huts, but still encountered prohibition. On the 5th year of Wangli period, Mingfeng, an official in Ming dynasty, built Chaoyang An around Fo Ding Shan and practiced Buddhism. Yuanxian, a monk, built an An around Xi Tian Men. The next year, Zhenbiao took over Baotuo Temple as the head monk. On the 14th year of Wanli period, Ci Sheng Li, the emperor's mother, issued The Collection of Buddhism Sutras and gave it to the temple. Monk Zhenbiao went to Beijing, the capital city, to express gratitude and invited well-respected monks from home and overseas to come to Putuo and build 53 Ans. However, on May of the 24th year of Wanli period, Liu Yuanlin, a provincial military governor, banned the construction of temples and Ans. Despite of repeated prohibitions, according to a manuscript written by Zhao Jiusi, the general of Dinghai, at that time there were total of 200 temples and monks' rooms dotted on the island, which were brightly lit up at night. On February of the 27th year of Wanli period, the emperor, Shenzhong, gave the temple the Collection of Buddhism Sutras again. On the 30th year of Wanli period, the emperor asked Zhangsui, an official and other members to come to Putuo and build a temple. Three yeas later, the empror sent officials to Putuo again to build temples on a large scale. Since then, temples and Ans have spread all over the island and the number of those who owned its name and history was amounted to 103 till the end of Ming dynasty.
On the year of 1671, the 10th year of Kangxi period in Qing dynasty, monks were driven to leave. Till the 23rd year of Kangxi period, the policy of Sea Ban had been loosened and some monks gradually returned to Putuo and renovated the old temples and Ans, finally total to 190, during the reign of Kangxi Period. Till the year of 1832, the 12th year of Daoguang period, 16 Ans were torn down and the existing number was 174 and 14 Ans were newly built so that the number was reduced to 188. In the year of 1924, the 13th year of the Republic of China, there were 133 Ans either abolished or downsized as huts, among which there were 55 either repaired or enlarged. In addition, Dabei Hall and Xilin Hall which originally belonged to Puji Temple, were either enlarged its construction or established its own independent 13 Ans due to the abbot's retirement, plus the 19 ans which were newly built at the end of Qing dynasty and the beginning of Republic of China, total to 88 Ans. On the 16th year of Republic of China, there were 2 newly built Ans named as Longsha and Lugan, total to 90.
At the beginning of the founding of the People's Republic of China, some Ans either collapsed or were removed so that there were 83 Ans existing according to the documents and files of Dinghai County in 1952.
On May 1962, according to the “Investigation Report on housing Conditions in Putuo”, there were 149 houses in the area, including 1 temple, 45 Ans, 35 huts in the outer hill; 1 temple, 22 Ans, 23 huts in the middle hill; 1 temple, 7 Ans, 3 huts in the back hill; total to 3 temples, 74 Ans, 61 huts. On December of the same year, Haishu An suffered fire and was burned, but quickly was replaced by 5 one-story houses.
During the “Cultural Revolution”, Miaofeng, Chaoyang Cave, Xia Qingliang and other 7 Ans were torn down. Till the end of year 1978, there were only 3 major temples and 64 Ans existing in Putuo. Except for Meifu An in which about 40 monks and nuns lived, other temples and Ans were all occupied by the government, the garrison, the fishermen and peasants for residential use. Due to the implementation of religious policy in 1979, on March of the same year, the Navy relinquished Puji Temple and on October the Army relinquished Huji Temple. Since October 1980, the garrison gradually relinquished Fayu Temple, Sansheng Tang, Tianfu An, Guangfu An, Hongfa House, Fanyin Cave, Heming An and so on, among which the 3 major temples, Dacheng An, Longshou An, Guanyin Cave and Meifu An were returned to Buddhist Association, but the remaining temples and Ans were still occupied by the government agencies and enterprises. Since 1980, the Buddhist Association has respectively restored the retrieved temples and Ans. In 1985, Central committee general office, the State Council general office issued No. 59 document(year 1985) which declared that Puji Temple, Fayu Temple, Huiji Temple, Dacheng An, Guanyin Cave, Meifu An, etc. 20 temples and ans should be returned to Buddhist Association and other temples should also be returned as soon as possible. The government also negotiated with the Buddhist Association about the returning date.
On February 1988, the General Office of the Zhejiang Province issued No. 21 document(year 1988) which declared that Jishan Tang, Yanzuo Tang, Longshou An, Heming An, Banshan An, Baoben Tang, Chengen Tang, Baolian An, Maocao hut should be returned to Buddhist Association who then could repair, renovate and rebuild them. At the same time, the “Refusal to Leaving” Guanyin temple, Shancai Cave, Nanhai Guanyin Hall, Baotuo Temple, Ten Thousand Buddha Pagoda, Luo Jia Shan Zen Temple, Yuantong Zen Temple, Dabei Temple, Mount Putuo Buddhist college of China Buddhist Institute (inside which there is Putuo Temple which gives Buddhism sutras) and so on. Apart from that, there are also Duo Baota Temple, the newly rebuilt Fanyin Cave, Ciyun An, Zi zhu Lin An , Xifang An, Banshan An, Yinxiu An, Xianglin An , Changsheng An, Gu Dong An and so on.
By the end of March 2020, the Buddhist Association retrieved total 65 temples and Ans , among which 44 temples, including four new ones have been restored and opened to the public. Currently, the Buddhist Association has proceeded to recover the old Ans and Tangs, functionalized the temples according to their own features so as to consolidate the infrastructure of Mount Putuo and perfect the solemn place of Guanyin bodhisattva.