This Saturday we decided to make the short drive to The Illawarra region to visit the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Nan Tien Temple.
The grounds are scattered with statues and asian inspired trees and shrubs. Except for the occasional nearby motorway noise, it really feels like you’re in another land while walking around the tranquil gardens and artist buildings. The Nan Tien Temple is something unique, it offers retreats, classes, a museum, restaurant and even accommodation.
The grounds are completely disabled access friendly however there are lots of hills and stairs around to deal with too.
The main building surrounds a large courtyard and is set over many levels. This is where you will find the various Shrines, Tea House, Vegetarian Dining Hall, Museum and much much more.
Some areas have some restrictions such as the Shrines and shoes, photography and inadequate clothing are not permitted inside, however the entire facility is more than accomodating with seating and storage so you can ditch your undesirables before going inside.
Also on the grounds in the Pagoda, an eight story resting place for the cremated ashes of devotees, large enough to accomodate the remains of over 7000 people. Inside the Pagoda is a shrine and a wishing bell which visitors may ring when they make a wish.
The stairs scared me off but the view from below was quite surreal.
Besides all the beauty of the gardens and buildings, walking around you have to reflect on the time and patience taken to incorporate the artist features of the buildings and grounds. From painted dragons on the eves to dragon carvings in the balustrades on the balconies, you will even find them in the roof tiles.
Nan Tien Temple is about 1.5 – 2 hours south of Sydney and about 15 minutes drive south of Wollongong. Entry is free however take some money along so you can enjoy the Tea House and other activities throughout the grounds.
For more information you can read much more about the Nan Tien on their website at www.nantien.org.au