Eight Immortals Temple (Baxiangong) , Xi'an
The Eight Immortals Temple ( 八仙宮 Baxian Gong ) (baxian gong), which was called "baxian an" (eight immortal temple) in ancient times, is located at Changle Lane, Dongguan of Xi'an city, the seat of Xingqing Temple of the Tang dynasty. It is said that during the Tang dyansty this place was "Chang'an wineshop", where Lü Dongbin was transformed by Zhongli Quan and became a Daoist while drinking. It is also said that as the sound of thunder underground was often vaguely heard, a Thunder Spirit Temple was built up to guard the place. At the end of the Song dynasty, a student named Zheng rested at the temple and encountered The Eight Immortals who traveled to dine there. Thus the legend of the "Eight Immortals" came into existence. During the Jin and Yuan dynasties, The Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真 Quanzhen ) thrived and constructed a building named "baxian an". This temple had become a well-known Daoist temple in the Ming dynasty.
In the first Kangxi years of the Qing dynasty, a celebrated Daoist Ren Tianran renovated the temple and expanded the eastern court. At that time, Ren Tianran opened the altar and transmitted precepts, turning "baxian an" into one of the Temples of the Ten Directions ( 十方叢林 Shifang Conglin ) of the Complete Perfection Tradition. In the 11th Jiaqing year (1806), the alms-begging Daoist Dong Qingqi (who was called "bare-footed Perfect Man ( 真人 Zhenren ) Dong" by his contemporaries for roaming the world barefoot all the year round) from Zhengzhou, Henan became the abbot of the temple. He begged for alms and raised money to repair the halls and build the western court. Afterwards, eminent Daoists such as Han Heyi, Liu Helun, Zhu Jiaoxian and the like stayed here. They all made good contribution. During the Gengzi turmoil in the 26th Guangxu year (1900), empress dowager Cixi took emperor Guangxu to escape to Xi'an. During their stay in Xi'an, Cixi often visited "banxian an", burning incenses and worshiping spirits to divert herself from melancholy and terror. A clump of green peonies in the western garden of the temple most pleased her, and she drew a central scroll of peony specially and bestowed it to the temple. Li Zongyang, the abbot at that time, was treated especially well by Cixi. He was conferred the title "Perfect Man Wearing Jade Hat and Dressed in Purple Robe" and a tablet inscribed with the words "supreme Dao of Jade Purity". In addition, he was given 1,000 liang silver to build temples. After Cixi returned, she granted the temple the title "Longevity Temple of the Eight Immortals at the Eastern Pass of Xi'an" ( 西安東關萬壽八仙宮 Xi’an Dongguan Wanshou Baxian Gong ), and thus "baxian an" was promoted to be the Eight Immortals Temple.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government once appropriated money to repair the temple in 1958. During the "Cultural Revolution", the temple suffered from damage. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, the Chinese Communist Party renovated the Eight Immortals Temple and made this famous Daoist spot display a new appearance.
The renovated temple is located in the north and faces south. The whole building covers over 8,200 square meters. It basically keeps the arrangement of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The temple is divided at the central court between the eastern and western yards. The central part consists of the great screen wall, the memorial archway, the market, the mountain gate, the Hall of Numinous Officials ( 靈官殿 Lingguan Dian ), the Hall of the Eight Immortals, and the Hall of The Big Dipper ( 斗姥 Doumu ) from the front to the back. The eastern buildings include the Hall of Patriarch Lü, the Hall of the King of Medicine, the Hall of Spirit Taibai, the kitchen, and the living quarters. The western buildings include the Hall of Patriarch Qiu, the inspector's house, the Yunyin Hall, and the office of the municipal Daoist association. The central court is separated from the eastern and western yards by the stele corridor and wing-rooms. The whole group of buildings is arranged well and put in good order. It takes on an impressive and dignified look.
The main hall of the temple is the Eight Immortals Hall. There is a tablet with the emperor's inscription "precious registers transmitted by immortals" on its gate. In the hall, the Imperial Sovereign Donghua ( 東華帝君 Donghua Dijun ) sits uprightly in the middle and the eight immortals sit on either side.
The Eight Immortals Temple has been recognized by the State Council as a national key temple.
Address: the Eastern Pass, Xi'an, Shanxi
Traveling route: go by city bus in Xi'an
Tele: 86-29-3237725, 2480994