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Lingyin Temple

lingyin templeThe Lingyin (Souls Retreat) Temple is Hangzhou's most famous site aside from the West Lake and one of the best-known Buddhist monasteries in China. It was built in 326 AD at the foot of Lingyin Mountain. In its heyday, the temple had nine towers, 18 pavilions and 75 halls, and housed as many as 3,OOO monks.

The main hall, 33.6 meters high, is a single-storey, multi-eaves ancient building. It contains a sitting statue of Sakyamuni (19.6 meters in height, including the carved aureola board at the back and the lotus seat) which is the biggest such sculpture of wood still extant in China. On the wall in the rear of this hall is a colorful group-sculpture of 150 figures depicting the Buddhist story of Sudhana-Kumara visiting Avalokitesvara Budhisattva on an island. It is a work of a high artistic value.

Slightly behind the Lingyin Templein the woods up here are a lovely collection of stone carved Buddha who sit in the niches of the cliffs. The most impressive of these is a huge, fat "Laughing Buddha." In the Temples themselves are various gold statues of Buddha, posing in different positions and adopting a warrior stance. With magnificent mountains and high trees surrounding the monastery, the Lingyin Temple is a beautiful scenic spot with numerous cultural relics to see.

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