The tour begins at the reception desk, to the right of the main entrance as you enter the building.
Above the windows, adjacent to the desk are two water color pictures of the completed Guesthouse and Main Temple Complex. The painting on the left is the Guesthouse. The Main Temple, with the orange roof, is Fo Guang Shan’s spiritual headquarters for the continent of Africa. Fo Guang Shan, meaning Buddha Light Mountain, is the name of our Order. The main temple is built to last for 500 years if not maintained and up to 1000 years if it is maintained. It is the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern hemisphere. Underneath the central Shrine will be a very large conference facility capable of accommodating 800 people.
The name of this temple, “Nan Hua”, means “Southern Flower” in Mandarin Chinese. It refers to the location of the Temple and symbolizes virtue and beauty. The picture hanging above reception is of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the Fo Guang Shan order.
On the ground floor of this building are the administration offices, curio shop, Repentance Hall, museum, conference rooms, dining hall and kitchen. On the second floor are guestrooms, coffee shop, (open only on Sundays) monastic quarters and the Samantabhadra Shrine. The meditation Hall, used on our weekly meditation retreats, is on the top floor above the kitchen area, looking out over the fields behind the temple.
Behind the large staircase in the center of the reception area is a very large set of Chinese gongs. This is a life size model of gongs originally constructed by students of Jiao Tong University during the Han Dynasty in China, roughly 2000 years ago. They were donated to the Temple by a Buddhist devotee. These gongs are ornamental and are never played. Unlike western bells, which are rung by means of a device on the inside, Chinese bells and gongs are struck on the outside. These bells are played by two people using long wooden poles resembling rounded oars. The Emperors of old were entertained by the music of such bells and dancing.