My favourite part of my trip to China was visiting the Jing'an Temple. That's 静安寺, in Chinese, literally translating to 'The Temple of Peace and Tranquility'. A title that's quite apt, considering the peaceful atmosphere of the grounds. The surroundings bring about an immense feeling of calm, despite the fact that the temple is full to the brim with people.
I found this Buddhist temple to be particularly awe-inspiring due to its location. It sits in the heart of Shanghai, dwarfed by close-by high-rise buildings. In spite of its location, a wander through the temple is more like a pilgrimage than a city stroll. You forget that you're in a city of over 14 million; it's just you and your thoughts. You forget that you're in a city of pollution and smog; there's more than enough incense to distract you from that. You forget, even, that you are an outsider; everyone else is so engrossed in prayer that you won't even merit a glance. It's the perfect way to escape the chaos of the city, without leaving the city at all.
There are a number of rituals that I took part in, as I explored the temple. To reveal a purer self, I burnt incense on the furnace. To bring wealth, I had to throw a coin behind me and land it in the offering box. It took a few attempts but I got it eventually, so I can look forward to a properous life! Next I rubbed my back on an old rock... I never found out the significance of this act, but I spotted locals doing it so there's no doubt I'm calling something positive into my future!
So, that's what I got up to on my wander around Jing'an Temple! To those of you who plan to visit Shanghai one day, I recommend that you put 'join in with the rituals at the Jing'an Temple' on your to-do list. I promise that you'll be treated to a lovely little glimpse into the religious traditions in China, in beautiful surroundings.