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Jianfu Temple was originally the residence of Zhongzong Li Xian (李显) before he succeeded as the emperor of Tang Dynasty. It was converted to temple on March 20 of lunar calendar in AD 684 (a hundredth day after the death of Gaozong Li Zhi(李治) of Tang Dynasty), in order to dedicate postmortem fortune to Gaozong. Thus it was named as "Xianfu Temple" (献福寺). In Wu Zetian's Tianshou 1st year (AD 690), it was renamed Jianfu Temple, and also bestowed an inscribed board handwritten by the emperor. The famous Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built in Jinglong years (707-710) of Tang Dynasty. Initially, the pagoda courtyard resided outside the temple gate, rather than inside the temple, but it was still a part of Jianfu Temple. Under the wing of the empire, Jianfu Temple, together with Da Ci En Temple, became prosperous. While in Dang Wuzong Huichang years when Buddhism was suppressed, Jianfu Temple was only allowed to keep 20 monks for daily maintenance, and it grievous days came. The temple suffered from the chaos of wars at the end period of Tang Dynasty, and was largely ruined. Only the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was preserved. According to the historical records of Zhezong Yuanyou years of North Song Dynasty, Jianfu Temple had been moved into pagoda courtyard at that time, integrated with the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.
In Ming Dynasty, Jianfu Temple was reinvigorated. There were five times of large-scale renovations, largely preserving the original pattern. In Xuande 1st year(1426), Ming Dynasty, A Tibetan monk, Shaosiji from Hongjue Temple of Xiningwei, Shaanxi Province, was awarded a certificate from government, and came to preside over Jianfu Temple. Seeing the dilapidated buildings in the temple, he swore to rebuild it. The reconstruction was completed in Zhengtong 14th year(1449), and Shaosiji appealed to government for its name. The current "Imperial Jianfu Temple"(敕赐荐福寺) was handwritten by emperor Yingzong.
Jianfu Temple was renovated many times in the Qing Dynasty. The largest renovation occurred in Kangxi 31st year. In late Qing Dynasty, more buildings were erected, including Sutra Library and Nanshan Gate.
- Stone Inscriptions:
- Ancient Bells: A bell is preserved in the Bell Pavilion. It was built in Zhangzong Mingchang 3rd year(1192), Jin Dynasty, weighing 8,000 kilograms. More than a thousand characters are engraved on its surface. During period of the Republic of China, this bell was broken by the army residing in the temple, so that the scene "Morning Bell of Goose Pagoda" receded from view for many years. In 1993, the historical relics office of Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an directed the rescue work and welded the bell. A new bell was forged in 1998 for tourists to hit.
- Ancient Pagoda Trees: There are more than 10 pagoda trees inside the temple, with age of over a thousand years.