Temple of Soul's Retreat (Lingyin Temple)

Grand Hall of Temple of Soul''s Retreat
The Hall of Sakyamuni , Temple of Soul's Retreat
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You will find Temple of Soul's Retreat (Lingyin Temple) in a long, narrow valley between Peak Flown From Afar (Fei Lai Feng) and North Peak to the northwest of the West Lake at Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. It is without doubt a premier showpiece in the West Lake environs and is notable also as one of the ten most famous Buddhist temples of China. In 1961 it was listed for protection as a key provincial historical and cultural site and is considered a leading centre for research relative to Chinese Buddhist culture.

The presence of a temple on this site can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 - 420AD). According to local legend, Huili, an Indian monk came to the area  where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery to be found here. To his mind this had to be a dwelling of the Immortals and so he gave the temple a name Temple of the Soul's Retreat. The Chinese name is translated into English as either 'Temple of the Soul's Retreat' or 'Temple of Inspired Seclusion' for the setting has a quiet and beautiful grandeur that encourages a feeling of peace and for contemplation.

The Temple of Soul's Retreat was to gain in importance during the Five Dynasties (907-960 AD) when the King of the Wu Yue State initiated a large-scale development of the temple as a sign of his devotion to Buddha. In its heyday, Temple of Soul's Retreat comprised nine buildings, eighteen pavilions, seventy-seven palaces and halls with over thirteen hundred rooms providing accommodation for around three thousand monks. A monastery on this scale is difficult to imagine and needless to say over the centuries it has been subjected to many changes of fortune due to wars, religious repression and other calamities. The main building that can be seen today is a result of the restoration that was carried out in 1974 following the ten-year Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Temple of Soul''s Retreat in Hangzhou
Pray for the Peace

Upon entering the first hall of Temple of Soul's Retreat, you will see a tablet inscribed with words penned by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). He was inspired by the sight of the temple shrouded in mist amongst the trees that surround it and gave it the title 'Cloud Forest Buddhist Temple'. This first great hall, with its double eaves and some sixty feet in height, is the 'Hall of the Heavenly Kings.' Upon the door is a couplet that says 'Let us sit and wait upon the threshold, where we shall see another peak flying from afar. Let us welcome spring with a smile as the snow melts and the brook starts to flow once more.'

Upon entering the Hall your eyes will be drawn to the delicately painted ceiling decorated with phoenixes and dragons. Images of the Four Heavenly Kings stand upon either side of the Maitreya, a laughing Buddha with a huge belly who is said to be able to 'endure all intolerance and laugh at every laughable person in the world,' as he welcomes those who enter the hall. On passing through this hall and crossing the courtyard beyond, you then enter the Da Xiong Bao Dian. This is the Hall of the Great Hero. It is seven rooms wide, five rooms deep and single storey construction. The double eaved roof soars to a pinnacle of 33.6 metres (110 feet) making it probably the highest single storey buildings to be found in China. The hall houses a statue of Sakyamuni carved from 24 sections of camphor wood with an overall height of 24.8 metres (82 feet). This is one of the largest wooden statues in China and is covered with gold leaf. The statue is flanked on either side by twenty saints. These are said to be protectors of justice. Twelve disciples who serve as guards are seated along the rear wall. The figures are a very imposing and impressionable sight to behold.

golden buddha statue
Statue of Sakyamuni
statue of Bodhisattva Kwan-Yin
Kwan-yin Statues
The Buddha Sculpture in the Temple of Soul''s Retreat
Southern Heavenly King

Continuing through the complex, you will come in turn to the Pharmaceutical Master Hall, Great Mercy Hall and the Cool Spring Pavilion. This latter pavilion was erected a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty. It is very pleasant place to linger during the heat of summer when the softly murmuring spring has a cooling effect upon its surroundings.

the Hall of the Medicine Buddha
The Medicine Buddha Hall

The Temple of Soul's Retreat contains an important collection of Buddhist literature together with many other treasures. As a consequence it is a great centre of information for those who wish to study aspects of Chinese Buddhism in detail. The palaces, pavilions and halls together with their many figures of Buddhist deities represent in total a splendid and unique collection of architectural and artistic cultural relics. The various buildings and pagodas date from the Southern Song, Ming and Tang Dynasties. Among the ancient writings are scriptures written on pattra leaves, the Diamond Sutra copied by Dong Qichang in the Ming Dynasty and a wood cut edition published during the Qing Dynasty.

To add a final memorable touch to your visit, it is very pleasant to dine at the Lingyin Vegetarian Restaurant located nearby. The vegetarian dishes on offer are typical of the Chinese culinary style and it is little wonder that in such a setting the excellent repast is frequently regarded as 'food for the gods'.

How to get to Temple of Soul's Retreat

1. Take bus 7, 324, 807, j1 or y2, and get off at Lingyin Station.
2. Take bus 103b, 103, 121b, 121 or 324, and get off at Lingyin Dong Station.
Hangzhou Bus / Metro Search

Entrance Fee CNY 30 (Temple of Soul's Retreat); CNY 45 (Peak Flown From Afar)
If visitors want to visit Temple of Soul's Retreat, they have to enter Peak Flown From Afar Scenic Area first and cannot avoid the admission fee for Peak Flown From Afar.
Opening Hours 07:00 - 18:15;
Ticket selling ends at 17:30.

Nearby Attractions

Meijiawu Tea Plantation

Top 10 Things to Do in Hangzhou
- Last modified on Dec. 26, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Temple of Soul\s Retreat (Lingyin Temple)
Asked by Nhung from VIETNAM | Dec. 22, 2018 00:37Reply
How long to visit Hangzhou Lingyin Temple?
Answers (1)
Answered by Savannah from NEW ZEALAND | Dec. 26, 2018 19:06

Generally speaking, 2-3 hours sightseeing time is enough.
Asked by Wern from MALAYSIA | Dec. 09, 2018 01:21Reply
May I know how much is the entrance ticket of Hangzhou Lingyin Temple for senior please?
Answers (1)
Answered by Rena from USA | Dec. 09, 2018 18:46

For the normal entrance ticket fare: CNY 30 (Temple of Soul's Retreat); CNY 45 (Peak Flown From Afar)
People who are 60 to 69 year old can enjoy the half price ticket. It is free for people over 70 years old.
Asked by Haiyan from USA | Dec. 02, 2018 08:39Reply
Is Hangzhou Ling yin temple on top of Mount Ling?
Answers (1)
Answered by Queenie from FRANCE | Dec. 03, 2018 18:35

No, the temple lies on the Peak Flown From Afar, Xihu District.
Asked by Jes from SINGAPORE | Oct. 17, 2018 19:22Reply
Hangzhou Lingyin Temple, Fajing Temple, Fajing temple and Faxi Temple
I am interested to visit the above temples within 1 days as they are at the same area.
I am staying at Eastern Building, No. 1 Yuewang Road and please advise how to reach the above temples.
Please advise how to reach the temples? (By Bus/Metro/Taxi)or do we need to do some walking? and back to our apartment and which temple should I visit first and last.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ker from USA | Oct. 18, 2018 19:07

You can first walk about 13 minutes to the Dongpo Road Pinghai Road where you need to take the bus No.7 to the Lingyin. After get off the bus, walk about 8 minutes to Lingyin Temple.

Near the Lingyin Temple, there is one path that you can walk along to visit other three temples orderly and it may take about 1 hour on foot. If you don’t want to walk too much, you can take the bus No.837 or Y4.
Asked by Irushika from SIR LANKA | Jun. 09, 2018 23:05Reply
How to go to Hangzhou Lingyin Temple from jinhua?
Already I'm living in jinhua..so I want to know how could I arrived lingyin temple from Guangzhou railway station...
Answers (3)
Answered by David from DENMARK | Jun. 11, 2018 01:54

Do you wanna know the transportation from Jinhua to Linyin Temle?
If yes, take the bullet train fom Jinhua to Hangzhou East Railway Station first. It takes around an hour on the way. Take metro line 1 to Longxiangqiao Station, Exit C2 first. Then transfer to bus no. 7 to Lingyin Bus Stop. After arriving, walk southwest around 500 meters to find the scenic area.
Answered by Jen from VIETNAM | Sep. 08, 2018 07:15

How long does it take from Bus 7 stop to Lingyin? Can I visit west lake and lingyin temple in morning?
Answered by David | Sep. 09, 2018 20:11

Yes, of course you can and it take about 8 minutes from the stop to the temple.
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