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Lingyin Temple is the wealthiest and most recognized Buddhist temple in Hangzhou with a long history of 1,700 years. Nested between and back Beigao Peak and fronted Feilai Mountain, it has been long regarded as a wonderful Buddhist and poetic destination - cloud-wrapped mountains, massive trees, the ancient temple, religious grottos, delicate rock carvings...It has been honored as one of the most important temples in Jiangan Region for its Buddhist importance in Song Dynasty. With so many to cherish, it was also ranked as a national Key Cultural Relics Protection Unite and AAAAA scenic spot.
Lingyin Temple was a Zen Buddhist temple the originally built in 326 AD by an Indian monk called Huili (慧理和尚). As Huili came to Hangzhou, he found the peaks extraordinary and unworldly and there must be some soul of immortals retreated here. He named it Lingyin which literally translated as soul’s retreat. In the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), it was expanded with the bestowing land from Liangwu Emperor (梁武帝). Lingyin Temple has developed and prospered during the Five Dynasties (907-960) and the population of monks soared to about 3,000. Emperor Kangxi visited to Lingyin Temple as he travelled incognito to Jiangnan in 1689. Seeing the dense forest and puffy clouds, Kangxi named Lingyin Temple as “Yunlin Chan Temple” (云林禅寺). However, people got accustomed to calling it Lingyin Temple, so its original name keeps till today. With such a long history, Lingyin Temple has experienced damage and renovation several times.
Lingyin Temple has a lot, both nature and culture, for you to explore. In spite of crowded tourists in weekends or holidays, the ambience of the entire temple is so peaceful making you relaxed. The main halls of Lingyin Temple were built in the axis, including Hall of Heavenly Kings, Grand Hall of Great Sage, Palace of Medicine Buddha, Dharma Hall & Sutra Library and Huayuan Palace. Several other halls sit in the two side of the axis
The first building you meet after you enter Lingyin Temple is the astonishing Hall of Heavenly Kings (天王殿). A horizontal inscribed board with “Yun Lin Chan Si”, which is written by Emperor Kangxi, hangs highly above the gate. As you step in, an ornate cabinet housing Maitreya (the Future Buddha) will catch your eyes. The Buddha with a big belly seems laughing a hearty laugh, which means that he always tolerate the intolerable and laugh at the ridiculous. At the back, facing up the hill, is the statue Skanda Buddha on golden helmet and gold leaves, sculpted from precious camphor wood. The statues of the Four Heavenly Kings are standing in the two sides of the great hall, looking fierce and imposing.
Called Juehang Palace originally, the Grand Hall of Great Sage (大雄宝殿) is a two-storied building with a three-eave roof which jumps to a pinnacle of 33.6 meters. In the center sits a startling statue of Shakyamuni on a lotus flower. With a height of 24.8 meters, it is one of the biggest camphor-wooden sitting statues and one treasured religious artwork. Behind the giant statue is a group of stereoscopic statues: Bodhisattva carrying holy bottle, surrounded by 150 small figures. You can also enjoy many lively scenes described in Buddhist sutras.
In front of Grand Hall of Great Sage situate two 9-story octahedral stony pagodas with fine carvings on each side. As great architect Liang Sicheng identified, the two pagodas were built in late Five Dynasties.
Palace of Medicine Buddha (药师殿) is a 20-meter long and 12-meter wide hall where Three Saints in East are enshrined, including Medicine Buddha, Sunlight Buddha and Moonlight Buddha. Medicine Buddha is the middle one sitting on the lotus. It is said that he could remove all disease and disasters from people. Sunlight Buddha and Moonlight Buddha are standing on the two sides Medicine Buddha, symbolizing promising and refreshing respectively. In the right and left sides are lined with 12 disciples of Medicine Buddha in the sequence of twelve hours.
Left to Palace of Medicine Buddha, there is a rebuilt Arhat Hall with a Lingyin Bronze Palace which is the highest bronze place in China according to Guinness World Records.
Jigong Hall (济公殿) or Daoji Hall is situated to the east of the Palace of Medicine Buddha. In the center of the hall is a bronze statue of Master Jigong with a broken fan in his right hand and Buddhist prayer beads in his left hand. In the history, Jigong was a famed monk scintillating with wit. He knew the hardships of the people and helped them a lot. Lingyin Temple is temple where he ordained as a monk. However, his was rendered excessively as a weird, rigid, meat-eating but kind and powerful Buddha. Popular Chinese TV play series Living Buddha Jigong was shoot in Lingyin Temple. You could read the 50-meter long mural displaying a narration of Jigong’s lengendary life stories on Chinese scroll paintings of landscape.
There are three important activities occuring in the Lingyin Temple every year. Though we might be unable to watch or take part in, we could read the benevolence of the Buddists in Lingyin Temple.
Lingyin Temple has kept giving off Laba Porridge in every Laba Porridge Festival (腊八节) as a tradition for more than a thousand years. In the ancient time, the monks in Lingyin Temple gave gruel to the poor out of the temple. Nowadays, they always choose the charity houses, nursing houses, hotels, schools or other communities to continue their philanthropic act. Not only Lingyin masters but also many volunteers take part in porridge distribution. The safe and delicious porridge is also a reflection of positive ethos in Hangzhou. At the same day, a series of Buddhist cultural activities will take place in Lingyin Temple, like praying ceremony, sermon ceremony, chanting sutra etc.
Acted as the most ceremonious and extraordinary rite in Chinese Buddhism, Shui-Lu Rite (水陆法会) aims to mediate relations with local gods, ancestors, and the restless dead (ghosts), and deliver all living creatures from torment. The Shui-Lu Rite of Lingyin Temple always occurs in every September of lunar calendar. In Lingyin Temple, the Shui-Lu Rite will last for seven days. The performance involves a massive outlay of human and material resources, with multiple layers of ritual activities taking place in seven different altar sites. In every day, the Buddhists need to chant sutras and bow to expiate the sins of the deceased ancestors and pray for living people.
Charitable Mendicancy (托钵行脚)was firstly launched in Lingyin Temple in 2009 and now there are many religious disciples in Zhejiang Province taking part in this activity. All the abbots and masters in Lingyin Temple will go to beg alms. The money they raised will be donated to the local charity organization to help the poor or refugees. The local people are always glad to show their kindness and give their charitable contribution, because it is a means of cultivating virtue and accumulating merits for them. And they always prepare a glass of tea for the tired monks. As the monks go to different places, they will spread Buddhist spirit and answering dilemmas for people.
As the top one of Five Zen Buddhist mountains, Feilai Peak, adjacent to Lingyin Temple is one hot attraction in Huangzhou. It was transported from India according to the legend, so it was called Feilai Peak which means flying peak. Feilai Peak features in uncountable Buddhist carvings lining the riverbanks and hillsides and tucked away inside grottoes. 335 of the all carvings (about 470) are well-preserved and most of them can date from the 10th century. To get a close-up view of the best carvings, including the most famed ‘laughing’ Maitreya Buddha and eighteen Arhats, follow the paths along the east side of the stream. The extremely lively, vivid and appealing carvings will make you admire the wisdom of ancient people. Within ten minutes' climbing, you can get to the summit of Feilai Peak. This stone-paved mountain road through the luxury forest will also give a fresh breathe and an interesting journey.
Lingyin Temple is located in the west of Hangzhou, adjacent to Feilai Peak and 3 km away from West Lake.
From Railway Station: Hangzhou East Railway Station, the largest railway station with most high-speed trains, is very close to Lingyin Temple, about 13 km. You can choose a public bus, subway or taxi to get your destination. Taking public bus or subway need to transfer for a few times.
From Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport: Lingyin Temple is about 36 km west to the airport, tourists can take the shuffle bus from the airport to Pinghai Road), then turn to Yuewang Road and take a public transportation to get to Lingyin Temple. The whole journey will cost about half and two hours. Taking a taxi is more advisable, and you will get to Lingyin Temple directly with one hour.
If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our knowledgeable local tour guide and skilled driver will escort you to Lingyin Temple with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >