West Garden Temple

West Garden Temple (Xiyuan Temple) covering an area of 1.6 acres (about 10 mu) in Suzhou was constructed in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and features sacred temples and classical gardens. Also called Jiechuanglv (commandment as its doctrine) Temple, West Garden Temple is the largest temple in Suzhou City which blends garden art and temple art harmoniously. Here, you can see the ancient trees flourish, the temple houses layer upon layer, the winding river, the green grass, hear the birds singing and smell the fragrant flowers. What a splendid spectacle it is!

Now let's come to the scenic spots located on the middle axis line of West Garden Temple. From south to north along the line are Arches (Paifang) of three rooms, Mountain Gate, Jingang (Buddha's guarding warriors) Temple, Fangsheng Pond, Daxiong (grand) Palace, and Sutra Collection Pavilion. When you come out of the Jingang Temple, you can find Arhat Temple on your left and Kwan-yin Temple on your right.

West Garden Temple Suzhou West Garden Temple


 

Arhat Temple

The Arhat Temple was constructed at the end of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where there are five hundred arhats of different names, different facial expressions, and who maintain the characteristics of a round face and plump body. They are all seated with clothes of good texture. These five hundred arhats were carved and painted with special care by the skillful craftsman in the southern area of China. Viewing the whole you will find they are of different ages from old to young, and of different personalities from lionhearted to kindhearted. But these characteristic arhats all have one thing in common: they are regarded as the symbol of power and luck by everyone in all walks of life containing the deep connotation of Chinese Buddhism and Chinese Culture. The whole architecture represents the consummate craft of sculpture from the southern area of China, which belonged to the first-rate sculpture of Arhat in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). It is architecture unique to the West Garden Temple.

In the center of the Arhat Temple there is a sculpture of Kwan-yin 43 feet (about 13 meters) high carved by fragrant camphor timber, which has thousands of eyes and hands. The main focus in the temple must be a peculiar figure of Buddha beside the Kwan-yin who has four faces said to represent the four famous mountains of Buddhism: Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui, Mt. Emei in Sichuan, Mt. Putuo in Zhejiang and Mt. Wutai in Shanxi. In addition, inside the Arhat Temple there are two well-known sculptures called 'Mad Monk' and 'Jigong Monk' whose words and deeds are also praised by people though they are not the traditional arhats and hence got the name of the 'Live Arhats'. The Arhat Temple with five hundred arhats is the only one in southeastern littoral area.
West Garden Temple in Suzhou West Garden Temple
 
 

Fangsheng Pond

Next let's go to West Garden to visit Fangsheng Pond, whose name is derived from the Buddhist habit of freeing captive animals. In the center of the pond there is an octagonal pavilion standing erect in the water with mansions, flowers and trees around it, and a bending bridge bestriding across the water to create a kind of neat and artful landscape. Fish swim freely and several rare tortoises are well kept in the water. It is said that these tortoises are the offspring of the tortoise from the Ming Dynasty and that they are more than three hundred years old. There are many varieties of fish and turtles in Fangsheng Pond.

Since 1949, West Garden Temple has been expanded several times with governmental financial support and Buddhists' donations. Now it has refurbished the former styles and features and many new scenic spots have been added to live up to its fame 'The Holy Land of Buddhist Altar'.
 
 

Transportation

1. Take bus no. 406 and get off at Xiyuan Station.
2. Take bus no. 34, 311, 317, 400, 441, 949 or tourist bus no. 5 and get off at Xiyuan East Station.
3. Take bus no. 40, 816, 933 or tourist bus no. 3 and get off at Xiyuan Road East Station.
 Suzhou Bus Search

Admission Fee CNY 25
Opening Time 7:30 - 17:30
 
 

Recommended Nearby Attractions

  Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan)
  Shantang Street (Seven-Li Shantang) 

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