The Construction of the Soul Retreating Temple (also known as Lingyin Buddhist Monastery, or simply Lingyin Temple) started in 326 AD. Tugged away in mountains circling the West Lake, the Buddhist monastery sits in a valley flanked by North Peak and the Flying-From-Afar Peak where craggy rocks are thickly covered by verdant woods and a limpid brook bubbles its zigzagging way through valley.

Magnificent in architectural structure, the ageless temple houses a great variety of Buddha figures heavenly and exquisite. The Temple for the Soul's Retreat is famed as the First Mountain in Southeast China for hundreds of years all over China.

At its best days, the temple was really
magnificent   in size. On its sloping compound stood nine storied buildings and eighteen pavilions. More than 1,000 dormitories housed over 3,000 monks. During the Emperor Kangxi's reign in the Qing Dynasty, the Temple of the Soul's Retreat was named as the Zen Temple of Clouds and Woods. The temple looks what it is today through a series of construction projects over decades on the basis built in the evening period of the Qing dynasty.

On the compound's central axial line stand the Front Hall (Heaven King's Hall), the Great and Magnificent Hall, and the Pharmaceutical Master Hall. The Buddhas figures inside these three Halls are most popular with pilgrims and tourists.

The most admired Buddha figures are Buddha and Guanyin, or Goddess of Mercy, in the Great and Magnificent Hall and Wei Tuo, chief guard of Buddha and Buddhist doctrines, presumably carved out of the trunk of a single camphor tree in the south Dynasty, and Buddha's four major warrior attendants, colored clay sculptures in the Front Hall.

Scattered outside and inside the temple compound are numerous relics left from ancient times. The leading relic is the Pavilion of Cool Brook erected in the mid Tang Dynasty over 1000 years ago. From the pavilion down we have the stone pagoda and the stone storage for Buddhist scriptures, both built in the Five-Dynasties, the Pavilion of Greens first built in the South Song Dynasty, the pagoda of Hui Li the Master that was erected in the Ming Dynasty.

The temple houses various Buddhist literature and treasures including the scriptures written on pattra leaves, the gold-plating bronze Buddha statue fabricated in the Eastern Wei Dynasty, the Diamond Sutra copied by Dong Qichang in the Ming Dynasty, a wood cut edition published in the Qing Dynasty.

A couplet hung on the grand door of the Heavenly King Palace reads: Let us wait sitting on the threshold of the temple, for another peak may fly from afar. Smiles appear welcoming, for the brook is gradually warming up to the springtime. When tourists admire the couplet, they can't help but grin.

Bus 7 and 507 go to the Temple of the Soul's Retreat.

Management Committee of Hangzhou West Lake Scenic Area
Registration Numbe:2023025396号-1 Zhejiang Public Network Security:33010602012497
Website identification code:3301000015