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Thursday, July 29, 2010

No. 37: Lingyanshan Temple, Suzhou, Jiangsu

The delicate pagoda (塔) peeks past the Main Hall (大雄宝殿) in this view
of Lingyanshan Temple (灵岩山寺) in western Suzhou, Jiangsu (江苏, 苏州市)
Both of the temples I visited next were in the town of Suzhou, and each challenging in its own way.

First I headed across town to Lingyanshan, an awfully long bus ride, where I discovered that I'd need to climb a mountain. The effort paid off, though, as there were sights along the way, a cheap bowl of noodles to be had, and kind-hearted monks.

The Lingyanshan Scenic Area is on the far west side of town, just a kilometer or two from Taihu Lake. I started at a large pailou (ornamental gate) at street level, where there were unattended litters with no bearers nearby. I wouldn't have taken one anyway, but it was a harbinger of things to come.

Toiling up the steps, I reached the Guanyin Cave in its own small compound, where a shabbily-dressed monk was accepting donations for lighting candles. After buying a much-needed bottle of water, I soldiered on, passing a few carved Buddhas and an interesting small stone pagoda before reaching the front gate of Lingyanshan Temple.

I was told there were more temples beyond, but as this was my goal (and I had another for the day) I was happy to see just this one. The delicate pagoda on the east and the odd, square pond with its small pagoda in the garden to the west made a nice balance.

And then there was the "Vegetarian Noodles Office," a dining hall with delicious, filling meals for only 10 or 12 rmb. As I trudged back down the mountain, I encountered a couple of young monks who, perceiving my overexertion, offered me a gratefully-accepted juice-box.

Then it was into a taxi, and off to the uber-crowded Hanshan Temple.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily September 24, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 31.25988, 120.50394



Map:




GALLERY

The pailou gate at the base of Lingyanshan in Suzhou
Litters at the base of the mountain hint at the difficulty of the climb ahead
The small Guanyin Cave on the way up to the temple
A pagoda along the path to the temple
A strange square pond with a small in the west garden
The main hall and pagoda of Lingyanshan Temple (postcard above)
An unusual painting of the Buddha-to-be's excursion during which he saw the "Four Sights"

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