Lingyin Temple (Temple of Soul's Retreat)

Grand Hall of Temple of Soul''s Retreat
The Hall of Sakyamuni, Lingyin Temple
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You will find Lingyin Temple (Temple of Soul's Retreat) 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 Lingyin Temple 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, Lingyin Temple 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 Lingyin Temple, 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 Lingyin Temple 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 fr

equently regarded as 'food for the gods'.

How to get to Lingyin Temple

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 (Lingyin Temple); CNY 45 (Peak Flown From Afar)
If visitors want to visit Lingyin Temple, 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

12 Best Places to Visit in Hangzhou

- Last updated on Jul. 19, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Lingyin Temple
Asked by XT | Nov. 17, 2023 21:31Reply
Am I able to buy entrance tickets at the site?
Or do I have to buy the ticket in advance online, and if so how can I do that?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kelly | Nov. 19, 2023 23:58

It is possible to buy at the spot and it is hard to book in advance for foreigners.
Asked by jacinda from INDONESIA | Nov. 06, 2023 19:49Reply
How to go to Fei lai Feng from Ji Hotel Hangzhou West Lake Hubin Erqing Building?
Answers (1)
Answered by Molly | Nov. 07, 2023 17:41

You can walk south about 800m to take Bus Line 7 to Lingyin Station. Get off the bus, and you can walk 300m to the scenic area. It takes about 1 hour and costs CNY 2.
Asked by Linda from USA | Jan. 19, 2020 13:54Reply
Free admission for LinYin Temple Hangzhou over 70 years old???
Do you have to be a Chinese citizen to enter free if in your 70s for LinYin and peak from afar? The website doesn’t mention anything? Thank you.
Answers (2)
Answered by Peter from FRANCE | Jan. 19, 2020 22:29

I'm not sure whether foreigners over 70 years old can be free of charge. You better bring your passport with you.
Answered by Linda from USA | Jan. 20, 2020 10:33

Thank you. I found out it only applies to Chinese citizens
Asked by May from SINGAPORE | Dec. 07, 2019 01:21Reply
Linyin Temple to Leifeng Pagoda
Is it feasible to take a bus to from Linyin temple to Yue Wang Temple, then walk along the Kuahong qiao to Leifeng Pagoda? Will I cover the most of Xihu scenery if i travel in this manner?
Answers (1)
Answered by Afra from AUSTRALIA | Dec. 09, 2019 22:20

Yes, you can. Take bus no.7 from Lingyin Bus Stop to Yuefen Bus Stop. Walk east around 150 meters to find the destination. In addition, you can cover the most of Xihu scenery. Have a nice trip!
Asked by Franky from INDONESIA | Jul. 16, 2019 20:37Reply
From Shanghai I will arrive Hangzhou at East Railway Station. How to go Lingyin Temple?
Answers (1)
Answered by Cici from AUSTRALIA | Jul. 17, 2019 01:30

Take metro Line 1 from East Railway Station to Xihu Culture Square Station (Exit B), and transfer to bus No.407 from City Jiaojing Zhidui Station to Lingyin Station, then walk west of 800m to it. It costs CNY5 with around 1 hour.
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