Lingyin Temple and the 800-Year-Old Buddha Carvings

Located in China, Lingyin Temple is the most famous temple in the Hangzhou region. It is also the largest temple among the temples of the Wulin Mountains as well. This historical temple is mostly famous for its ancient grottos, rock reliefs, and carvings. Moreover, it is also one of the most important religious structures for Chan Buddhism, which is an independent school of Buddhism that originated in China.

Lingyin Temple

Lingyin Temple means “the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat” in English.

Lingyin Temple roof

Although it is located in China, the temple was actually constructed by an Indian monk named Huili in the 4th century. While there is not much information about Huili, it is a fact that the temple he built became very popular very quickly.

Lingyin Temple carving

The ultimate prime of Lingyin Temple was during the Wuyue era. During their reign, the temple had 18 pavilions, 72 halls, more than 1000 dormitories, and nearly 3000 monks lived in the temple together. Moreover, the ancient rock carvings, reliefs, and grottos are all products of this period.

Lingyin Temple relief

The specific location of the temple grounds that is home to these carvings is called the Feilai Feng or the “Flying Peak.” This area is nearly 600 meters long and 200 meters wide with 470 carvings. These carvings date back to different eras with the oldest going back as far as the 7th century.

Lingyin Temple buddha

Some of these carvings and little sculptures are in various caves below the temple. The temple dedicated the main cave to Guanyin who found the way to Buddhahood. One of the most interesting aspects of the main cave is that it has a crack leading to the surface. Therefore, a visitor standing in a specific place can see the light coming into the cave. The Chinese call this the “thread of Heaven.”

Lingyin Temple pagoda

Nearly 250 million people are members of Chan Buddhism in China. The members of the sect visit the temple as a pilgrimage aside from the thousands of tourists that come every year. Due to its popularity, Lingyin Temple has always been one of the wealthiest temples in China.

Lingyin Temple grotto entrance
multiple buddha carvings
rock reliefs
rock carvings and the stairway