Here is the landscaping we saw as we entered onto the official Temple grounds…
And an initial ornate sculpture:
The Lingyin Temple consists of five different halls: The Hall of the Heavenly Kings, The Grand Hall of the Great Sage, Yuayan Hall, The Hall of the Medicine Buddha, & the Hall of the 500 Arhats. We visited three of these. Although we couldn’t take pics inside the buildings, I have a few exterior shots I want to share & some comments on the experience:
1) The Hall of the Heavenly Kings
This hall is the formal entrance of the temple and contains a large statue of the laughing Buddha. Arranged along the left and right are the Four Heavenly Kings. Remember the guys with the scary eyes from a previous post? Well I have since learned that they are the Four Heavenly Kings or the four guardian gods. They are the protectors of the world and fighters of evil, each able to command a legion of supernatural creatures to protect the Dharma. Guess that makes the scary eyes a requirement. *LOL* What is interesting about this hall is that it is as large or larger than the main hall of most temples, reflecting Lingyin’s status as the centre of Buddhism in south-eastern China. Here is a peak into the front door from outside…see the scary eyes?
2) The Grand Hall of the Great Sage
The second and principal hall is separated from the Hall of the Heavenly Kings by a large courtyard, featuring a raised lawn bordered with trees.
The Grand Hall stands 110 feet tall. It houses a statue of the historical Buddha that was carved in 1956 from camphor wood and coated with 60 taels of gold. (FYI – a tael is an Eastern measurement – but just know that 60 taels is a lot!). This is the largest wooden Buddhist statue in China. There were mats placed at the base of it for worship and we saw a number of people bowing down in reverence. At the back of the main statue is a large screen that features the carved images of some 150 Buddhist personalities. I have to say that we were probably more impressed with the carved wall than we were of the huge golden Buddah! The wall stands about 100 feet tall and you can stand there for hours soaking in all the details.
3) Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats
The Hall of Five Hundred Arhats faces the western side of the courtyard in front of the main hall. The building has a complex floor plan, shaped like a Buddhist swastika. Arranged along the arms of the swastika are five hundred slightly larger-than-life bronze statues of the 500 arhats. (FYI – an arhat is basically an enlightened disciple of Buddha who has realized Nibanna, the culmination of spiritual life.) Each statue is seated on a unique ornate seat. At the centre, where the arms of the swastika join, stands a bronze canopy housing statues of four bodhisattvas representing the four cardinal directions. This is currently the tallest solid bronze structure in the world.
Now – what I can say about this hall is that it was an amazing maze of very unique & different statues. Some of them were even kind of surreal…people with two heads (I’m sure symbolic of something), monkeys dangling from arms & shoulders, etc. It was extremely interesting and was another place you could get lost in for hours viewing all the details. But in actuality, you could also just get lost…because the swastika structure really is built like a maze. Once we got into the building, we had one heck of a time trying to find out way out! Eventually we did, and were able to meet up with our group prior to departure.
Here was a neat stone carved pagoda we saw on our way out of the temple grounds.
We also passed by these waterways:
And here is an outside view of one the temple buildlings from beyond the temple gates:
When we exited, we went by some of the wonderful stone carvings again, and I snapped a shot of this guy:
Next stop, Shanghai!