Workers in Shanghai have moved a renowned temple by pushing an entire structure along purpose-built rails. The structure, known as the Grand Hall, had to be relocated to tackle the issue of overcrowding at the Jade Buddha Temple. Grand Hall is the main part of the 99-year-old Jade Buddha Temple, one of the most revered temples and a protected historic building complex in central Shanghai.
The building, which weighs 2,000 tonnes, has been moved 30.66 metres (100 feet) to the north as part of a restoration project.
Workers built rolling tracks under the temple to help push the 2,000-tonne structure.
The workers lifted the temple off the ground prior to the move, which began on September 2. They put more than 40 hydraulic jacks and built 10 tracks underneath the wooden structure, which measures 30 metres long (98 feet) and 25 metres wide (82 feet). Stilts were also fitted under the temple to keep track of the progress of the relocation.
Moving such a heavy and large building was an unprecedented challenge to local engineers.
According to the plan, the temple was to be moved six metres (20 feet) a day along the rails. It was also to be elevated 0.3 metres (one feet) every day to make it completed in a week’s time. Not just that, once it reached its new site, workers were to further raise the temple from its previous location by 1.05 metres (3.44 feet).
Buddhists gathered from different parts of Shanghai to see the iconic temple being moved.
The relocation project was kicked off by a grand ceremony at 10 am on September 2, attended by the abbots from the monastery and the government representatives. Hundreds of Buddhist devotees also gathered from different parts of the city to witness the historic moment.
Jade Buddha Temple is an icon of Shanghai.
It is named after two jade holy statues of the Gautama Buddha inside the complex, one sitting and one reclining.
They were made in 1882 in what was then Burma (now Myanmar), along with three other statues, after the local Buddhists and Chinese-Burmese residents raised enough money.
The five statues were transported to China’s Qing Dynasty by sea and passed Shanghai. Two of them were given to the port city. They were first kept in the north-east part of the city in the original Jade Buddha Temple.
After the temple was destroyed during the wars, the Shanghai residents built the current Jade Buddha Temple in 1918 and moved the two jade statues there.
Both statues depict the Gautama Buddha. One of them, which is 1.95 metres (6.4 feet) tall, is of the Buddha sitting; and the other one, which is smaller one, is of the Buddha reclining.