Have you ever heard of the poem A Night Mooring Near Maple Bridge written by Zhang Ji, a poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907)? In this poem, Zhang described the midnight bell rings of the Hanshan Temple. Since then, the temple has become famous, especially for its bell rings and Buddhism culture.
Hanshan Temple is situated three miles (about five kilometers) from Fengqiao Old Town in Suzhou ( Video of Maple Bridge/ Fengqiao). It is said that in the Tang Dynasty, a famous monk Han Shan came to take charge of the temple, hence its name. The temple was originally constructed during the Liang Dynasty (502-557) and was repaired several times in the following dynasties. Now, covering an area of about three acres (about 10,600 square meters), it presents the architectural style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It includes the Grand Prayer Hall, Sutra-Collection Building, Bell Tower, Fengjiang Pavilion and Tablets Corridor, etc. In 1995, a five-storey Buddhism pagoda as high as 138 feet (about 42 meters) was erected called Puming Pagoda, which then became the symbolic building of the temple. There are many more historical relics in the temple, such as the statue of Han Shan, the stone tablet inscription of the poem A Night Mooring Near Maple Bridge and some other tablet inscriptions written by famous intellectuals of ancient China.
|Grand Prayer Hall of the Temple || |
Being one of the most famous temples in Chinese history, Hanshan Temple often boasts about its bell rings. However, the best known bell described in Zhang Ji's poem disappeared a long time ago. The bell in the tower now, was modeled on the previous one in 1904. Every year on New Year's Eve, the bell is tolled for 108 times to pray for the happiness and safety of the coming New Year. After the ceremony, visitors can write their New Year wishes on the prayer wall and enjoy a fantasitc show. This festival attracts thousands of tourists both at home and abroad.
Hanshan Temple is also a Buddhism temple. The statue of the Buddhist patriarch Sakyamuni is there for people to make offerings to in the Grand Prayer Hall. In the Hongfa Hall, there are bronze statues of three eminent monks: Xuan Zang (a Tang Dynasty monk and translator), Jian Zhen (a Tang Dynasty monk who once went to preach Buddhism in Japan) and Kong Hai. Kong Hai was a Japanese monk who studied Buddhism in China in the ninth century. He once visited Hanshan Temple when he stayed in China and after he returned to Japan, he started to preach Buddhism in his country. Until now, the temple is one of the most important places to hold Buddhism activities.
|Stone Tablet with a Poem || |
|Puming Pagoda || |
|Making Prays in the Hall |
Around the temple, you can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Maple Bridge, where Zhang Ji's boat was once moored, and get a realistic feel of the ordinary life of the people living in the Fengqiao Old Town. You can also have a look at the famous Jinghang Grand Canal
, which is the longest ancient man-made canal in the world.
1. Take bus no. 30, 31, 33, 40, 44, 300, 301, 307, 313, 324, 332, 406, 415, 442, 622, 816, 932 or tourist bus no. 3 and get off at Hanshansi South Station.
2. Take bus no. 9, 10, 30, 45, 306, 931 or 935 and get off at Laifengqiao Station. Suzhou Bus Search
Note: The admission ticket on the New Year’s Eve is CNY 320 per person, when a grand “Bell Chime Listening” ceremony is held in the temple. The activity takes place from 18:00 on December 31th to 01:00 on January 1st of the next year. During the activity, lots of entertainment shows related to Buddhism are performed and visitors can strike the bell themselves after the ceremony.