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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jing An Temple

On a sunny day I decided to check out one of the tourist attractions in Shanghai: Jing An Temple (静安寺). I don't know why I dig Buddhist temples so much. I'm not religious & don't feel drawn to Buddhism in any way. Besides, they all look pretty much the same. Still there's something spiritual about them. I love the smell of incense burning, the chime of prayer bells, the ritual of people praying without really meaning it.

They say that the temple is about 800 years old, but looking around the site, I didn't see anything that looked like it had been around that long. It seems that in China, preserving the original isn't that important. Instead they like to rebuild structures in the old style - a replica of the real thing. In fact, they're in the middle of another "renovation" now.

In the US this would be a desecration, but here it's how things get done. Is the structure any less beautiful because it was built recently? No. But it does lose something of it's personality. I guess it's hard to preserve the old world charm when you're right next door to a shopping mall.

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