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Xiyuan Temple

 Xiyuan Temple
Xiyuan Temple
(xī yuán sì 西园寺) is located on the Liuyuan Road (liú yuán lù 留园路), Suzhou City (sū zhōu shì 苏州市). It is the largest temple within Suzhou. It was names as Guiyuan Temple (guī yuán sì 归元寺) at first. Then during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (jiā jìng huáng dì 嘉靖皇帝) in the Ming Dynasty (míng cháo 明朝), its name was changed into Xiyuan. During the reign of Emperor Chongzhen (chóng zhēn huáng dì 崇祯皇帝), the temple was one of the famous sites for Buddhist worship. During the reign of Emperor Xianfeng (xián fēng huáng dì 咸丰皇帝) in the Qing Dynasty (qīng cháo 清朝), the temple was destroyed in the war, and then in the reign of Emperor Guangxu (guāng xù huáng dì 光绪皇帝) the temple was rebuilt by Monk Guanghui (guǎng huì 广慧), rename the temple as “Xiyuan Jiechuang Temple”(xī yuán jiè chuáng sì 西园戒幢寺),which is commonly called “Xiyuan Temple”.

Hall of Heavenly KingMost of the architectures in the temple were built in the late Qing Dynasty. From south to the north, there are the archway, gate, Jingang Hall (jīn gāng diàn 金刚殿), Life-Releasing Pond (fàng shēng chí 放生池), Great Buddha’s Hall (dà xióng bǎo diàn 大雄宝殿) and Sutra Collection Pavilion (cáng jīng gé 藏经阁). To the east of the Jingang Hall, there is the Guanyin Hall (guān yīn diàn 观音殿), while to the west is the Arhat Hall (luó hàn táng 罗汉堂).

Jigong StatueThe Arhat Hall is the most unique architecture in the Xiyuan Temple. In the center of the hall, there is a statue of one-thousand handed and one-thousand eyed Guanyin. Around it, there are 500 arhat statues, which are different manners and as big as real persons. The most impressive one is the statue of Jigong (jì gōng 济公), which is vivid and delicate. It is the only arhat hall in the southeast coastal area of China.

In the Western Garden (xī huā yuán 西花园) of Xiyuan Temple, there is the Life-Releasing Pond, around which there are pavilions, halls and corridors. In the pond, there is a Huxin Pavilion (hú xīn tíng 湖心亭), which is connected with the bank by zigzag bridges. Many fish are playing in the pond as well as many turtles. Among all the turtles, there is one with more than 300 years old. Only in hot summer, the turtles come out of the pond and play on the bank.

Life-Releasing PondXiyuan Temple
Location: No. 18, Xiyuan Alley (xī yuán lòng 西园弄), Liuyuan Road, Suzhou City
Admission fee: RMB 25
Opening hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Transportation: you can take bus No. 6, 10, 11, 17, 40 and tourist bus line 1 and 3 to get there

 

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