Built in AD 326, Língyîn Temple is Hangzhou’s most famous temple. To get here we had to take a taxi. This involved pointing and the map and smiling.
When we arrived we realised that there were even more temples and a whole park that they were contained within. Being in China there was a pricy entrance fee.
The walk up to the temple skirts the flanks of Fēilái Peak (Flying from Afar) so named as, according to the legends, it was magically transported from India. Here were contained hundreds of Buddhist carvings and statues (10-14th Century AD)
The temple itself is big and busy with quite a lot of buildings. Everyone, including foreigners is given some incense sticks. These are burnt using candles and then placed in special urns to purify the surroundings and summon forth an assembly of buddhas, bodhisattvas, gods, demons and the like.
The main buildings are restorations of Qing Dynasty structures. There is also a monastery which once boasted a population of 5000 monks and is still in use today.
With the heat of the day burning us we didn’t do everything in the park as you could spend a full day here easy, so we headed back into town.
It took four taxis to finally get one to take us as there seemed to be some black market transport scan going on around us. We have been on the road long enough now to recognise these scams. Eventually we worked it out and got a real cab back towards the lake.
Hangzhou City is dominated by the West Lake. As the local tourism propaganda states:
There are 38 lakes in the world with the name ‘West Lake’, but only 1 is truly magnificent.
Marco Polo is refuted to have passed through here in the 13th Century and there is a statue on the North East shore to mark this event. He called Hangzhou ‘Kinsai’ and was amazed at over 12000 bridges that vaulted the waters here.
The lakeside is very classic. Hill topped Pagodas tower over willow-lined waters as a variety of boats cut across the shimmering calm lake.
Content is provided by the Su Causeway (built by poet Su Dongpo), the Bai Causeway (another poet Bai Juyi) and dotted with a couple of Islands. Just south of Xiâoyíng Island are three small towers jutting out of the water. These are collectively known as the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. They are lit on the night of the mid-autumn festival and can be seen on the back of the ¥1 note.
Filling in the blanks that surround the shore are parklands with little laneways that wind over bridges and around statues and scenery. The calm is, every so often, invaded by two very Chinese peculiarities…. The hacking coughing spitting of the locals and the electric golf buggies with their bulging occupants.
The rest of our time was filled with walking the market streets and trying to find places we could eat in that were not Fast Food Chains.