Nan Tien Temple (Chinese: 南天寺; pinyin: Nántiān Sì; literally: “Southern Heaven Temple”) is a
Buddhist temple complex located in the industrial suburb of Berkeley, on the southern outskirts of
the Australian city of Wollongong, approximately 80 km south of Sydney. Nan Tien is a Chinese
term which means “southern paradise”.
Nan Tien is one of the branch temples of the Taiwanese Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order, founded
in 1967 by Hsing Yun, which has over 120 branches worldwide. The temple is one of the largest
Buddhist temples in the southern hemisphere.
The Nan Tien complex was built using traditional techniques and materials by Chinese craftsmen,
but with numerous modern features. Occupying a semi-rural hillside site several square kilometres
in size, and set amidst landscaped gardens.
In addition to various meeting rooms, a museum, cultural, conference and accommodation facilities
and a restaurant, the Nan Tien temple complex includes two massive prayer halls (known as the
Great Mercy Shrine and the Great Hero Hall) within which are located multiple monumental
Buddha and Bodhisattva statues, as well as an 8 level pagoda, serving as a columbarium intended
to house the cremated remains of 7000 people. The front hall houses the Thousand Handed
Avalokitesvara (known as Kuan Yin in Chinese culture) and the main hall in the back houses the
Five Dhyani Buddhas, Amogasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, Vairocana, Amitabha and Akshobhya. Both
halls have thousands of tiny statues of Buddha on the walls. The complex also has amenities for
monks, nuns and visitors, and a large garden with a pagoda.
The architecture of the complex is notable because it incorporates the features of several styles of
Buddhism. The pagoda is distinctly Chinese, with flying eaves and an angular profile. The main
temples incorporates features of Tibetan monastic architecture, with multi-storey painted temple
buildings set atop high stone platforms (see the Potala Palace). The courtyards feature Japanesestyle
gardens, while the statues and shrines often incorporate bright,