4. The Mountain Gate

The external gate or main entrance of a Buddhist temple is called the “mountain gate” as most of the temples are built among mountains and forests. Usually the mountain gate is composed of three doors standing side by side. Therefore, it is called “Three Doors” by custom, namely, the door of Buddha, the door to enlightenment and the door of monk. As the gateway of the temple, the mountain gate forms a border of Buddha and the earthly world. The grand sight of three doors standing side by side demonstrates the sacredness and inviolableness of Buddhism to the monks and the common people.

Hongluosi was originally built in the 4th year of the reign of Xian Kang Emperor in Dongjin Dynasty(the year 338)when the northern part of China was governed by late Zhao during the period of sixteen states. In the 4th year during the reign of Yong Jia Emperor(the year 310), namely, the Huai Emperor of Jin Dynasty, the eminent Monk Buttocho from the Western Regions came to China to do missionary work. Well received by Shi Le,the emperor of late Zhao State, and his nephew,Shi Hu, Buttocho preachedhis religionand took in some disciples in the territory of late Zhao State. A series of temples were built. He is the first man officially authorized by the state to recruit disciples in China. According to Memoirs of Eminent Monks, as many as 893 temples were built during the 30 years of Buttocho’s missions and Hongluosi was one of them.

With a history of over 1600 years, Hongluosi was once called Da Ming Temple. During the reign of Zheng Tong Emperor in Ming Dynasty(the year 1437), the emperor came here to burn joss sticks and was exhilarated when he saw the head of the Buddha kindling (an auspicious omen) , and thus he named the temple Hu Guo Zi Fu Si. But this name was obscured by the name of Hongluosi as the legend of Hongluo fairies impressed people more deeply. For many centuries, due to vicissitudes and renovations, the original architecture has been lost. The exiting architecture dates back to Ming and Qing Dynasties.