Lingyin Temple – Hangzhou, China
Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺) is a Buddhist temple located north-west of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
Hangzhou, also romanized as Hangchow, is the capital and most populous city of Zhejiang.
The temple’s name is commonly literally translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and contains numerous pagodas and Buddhist grottoes.
According to tradition, the monastery was founded in 328 AD during the Eastern Jin dynasty (266–420) by an Indian monk, named Huili in Chinese.
From its inception, Lingyin was a famous monastery in the Jiangnan region.
At its peak under the Wuyue Kingdom (907–978), the temple boasted nine multi-story buildings, 18 pavilions, 72 halls, more than 1300 dormitory rooms, inhabited by more than 3000 monks. Many of the rich Buddhist carvings in the Feilai Feng grottos and surrounding mountains also date from this era.
During the later Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), the monastery was regarded as one of the ten most important temples of the Chan sect in the Jiangnan region. However, its prominence has not saved the temple from marauders.
It has been rebuilt no less than sixteen times since then. While certain existing buildings date from previous Chinese dynasties, much of the current buildings are modern restorations from the late Qing (1644–1911) period.
During the Cultural Revolution, the temple and grounds suffered some damage at the hands of Red Guards. However, they escaped large scale destruction partly because of the protection of Premier Zhou Enlai.
Today the temple is thriving as a destination for both pilgrims and tourists. It is regarded as one of the wealthiest monasteries in China, and regular pilgrims have included former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.