Towards the northwest, at a distance of around 5 kms from West Lake, sits Lingyin Temple. It is a significant place of worship in Hangzhou and a very tranquil place as it sits in green wilderness with mountains on three sides.
The Lingyin Temple is believed to be built by an Indian traveling monk, who found the area to be so ethereal, he imagined it would be where the immortals came to rest. Thus, the name of Soul’s retreat (Lingyin) temple. The shrine dates back more then 15 centuries and has been a revered place throughout imperial China, though it has seen its fair share of conflict and restoration.
Taking the public bus to Lingyin’s dedicated station would be most convenient, whereas taxi would take lesser time. The entry charge is RMB30 for the temple. It may be noted, however, that to see the temple, visitors have to pass through Fei Lai Feng area and that has a ticket of RMB45. This cost is unavoidable, so the total price of touring Lingyin is actually RMB75. Of course, the Peak flown from afar (Fei Lai Feng) and its scenic area is pretty cool to spend some time in, so no major loss. It opens 07:30 and closes down at 18:00. To see the full force of nature and enjoy refreshing weather, spring is the most advised time to go.
Having proved itself as a 5A scenic spot, the temple has a lay-out worth spending at least 2-3 hours on. There are Buddha statues, key literature and treasures that are instrumental to a deep comprehension the Buddhist faith in China. At the beginning of your tour, you will find yourself in the Hall that houses the Heavenly Kings and center stage will be a jubilant Buddha (Maitreya), smiling at you. After taking in the paintings and the statues here, you go on to the Great Sage’s Grand Hall, which lives up to its name and contains, atop a lotus flower, a larger than life statue of the founder of Buddhism, Shakyamuni. There are so many more ancillary buildings to wander through in the Lingyin complex. But a must-stop in your wanderings is at the Cool Spring Pavilion, which will really ingrain the meaning of the temple in your senses i.e. a retreat and refreshing place for the weary soul.
The monks at the temple are by no means just spiritual activists. They participate in some interesting community work as well that endears them to the locals and travelers alike and enhances the value of the faith in the believer’s hearts. There is an elaborate annual ceremony where Laba Porridge is distributed to the deserving sects of society. Regularly, the monks will visit the villagers and ask for donations to worthy cause like assisting the refugees or for giving to local charities.
As you get your fill of the place, it is imperative that you come across the vegetarian restaurant on site. Indulge in the peaceful atmosphere with a simple but delectable meal.