Língyǐn Temple

sights / Religious

Língyǐn Temple information

Hángzhōu , China
Address
Street Lingyin Lu
Prices
grounds ¥35, grounds & temple ¥65
Opening hours
7am-5pm
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Lonely Planet review

Hángzhōu’s most famous Buddhist temple, Língyǐn Temple was built in AD 326. Due to episodes of war and calamity, it has been destroyed and restored no fewer than 16 times. During the time of the Five Dynasties (907–60) about 3000 monks lived in the saffron-walled temple.

The main temple buildings are restorations of Qing-dynasty structures. The Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings is astonishing, with its four vast guardians and a beautifully elaborate cabinet housing Milefo. The Great Hall contains a magnificent 20m-high statue of Siddhartha Gautama (Sakyamuni), sculpted from 24 blocks of camphor wood in 1956 and based on a Tang-dynasty original. Behind the giant statue is a startling montage of Guanyin surrounded by 150 small figures, including multiple arhat (luóhàn), in a variety of poses. The Hall of the Medicine Buddha is beyond.

The walk up to the temple skirts the flanks of Fēilái Peak (Fēilái Fēng; Peak Flying from Afar), magically transported here from India according to legend. The Buddhist carvings (all 470 of them) lining the riverbanks and hillsides and tucked away inside grottoes date from the 10th to 14th centuries. To get a close-up view of the best carvings, including the famed ‘laughing’ Maitreya Buddha, follow the paths along the far (east) side of the stream.

There are several other temples near Língyǐn Temple that can be explored, including Yǒngfú Temple and Tāoguāng Temple.

Behind Língyǐn Temple is the Northern Peak (Běi Gāofēng), which can be scaled by cable car (up/down/return ¥30/20/40). From the summit there are sweeping views across the lake and city.

Bus K7 and tourist bus Y2 (both from the train station), and tourist bus Y1 from the roads circling West Lake, go to the temple.