A Buddhist statue at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo. Picture: Andrew Brown

South Africa is a very diverse nation that has opened its doors to a plethora of culture and religion. With the wide range of cultures comes the various locations around the country that act as testaments to each culture represented - in some cases that may be through buildings or special holidays. 

South Africa has close ties with Taiwan and with China, which has also led to the immersion of the Buddhist religion and the existence of temples and centres across the country. To date, South Africa has the largest temple in the continent as well as Buddhist centres across the country. 

Nan Hua Temple 

Nestled in the highveld of Bronkhorstspruit, lies a serene Buddhist village, and in the middle of that village stands the Nan Hua Temple. The village was created in 2005 and is part of the Mahayana Chinese Buddhism monastic order. An hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Africa and is fully operational - with novices visiting the village and interns committing to a three-year period of study at the temple. 

The village surrounding the Nan Hua Temple consists of the Nan Hua Guesthouse,  African Buddhist Seminary (ABS), and the Pureland Ch’an Retreat - a centre for meditation. 

The Nan Hua Temple, Bronkhorstspruit. Picture: Gauteng.net

The Buddhist Retreat Centre

Although not a temple, the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo is considered one of the finest meditation centres in the world. Situated near the Umkomaas river in KwaZulu Natal, the Buddhist Retreat Centre is a village that consists of a zen garden, BuddhaBoma, meditation hall, deer park and shrine. 

Visitors and guests of the centre are able to get outstanding views of KwaZulu Natal, as well as take in some of the historic sites on the 300-acre property - including old tracks from Voortrekker wagons, and a sharpening stone for an assegai. The retreat was named  National Heritage Site by Nelson Mandela due to the centre’s vast biodiversity and over 120 species of birds. 

A Buddhist statue at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo. Picture: Andrew Brown