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It was originally built in 685 or 686 during the Tang Dynasty. Behind its main hall "Mahavira Hall”, there are some columns with fragments from a Shiva temple built in 1283 by the Tamil community in Quanzhou dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. The carvings are dispersed across five primary sites in Quanzhou and the neighboring areas. They were made in the South Indian style, and share close similarities with 13th-century temples constructed in the Chola Nadu region in Tamil Nadu. Nearly all of the carvings were carved with greenish-gray granite, which was widely available in the nearby hills and used in the region's local architecture. In 1983, the Kaiyuan Temple was designated as a national temple.
The ancient bixi turtle. (The stele it used to carry has been lost)