Situated north of Mt. Taishan, Lingyan Temple hides in the lofty ridges and towering mountains. It was first founded in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), famous in the Northern Wei Period (386-543), prosperous in the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), Jin (1115-1234) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. Lingyan Temple is known as the head of “ Four of China's Best Temples”, the other three being: Guoqing Temple in Tiantai, Zhejiang Province, Qixia Temple in Nanjing, Yuquan Temple in Jiangling.The temple was built in Eastern Jin Dynasty and became famous in Northern Wei. During the Tang and Song Dynasty, it was called "the first of the four most famous Chinese temples" because it attracted a large number of pilgrims.
Lingyan Temple is one of the major historical and cultural sites under state protection. Inside the temple, there are magnificent ancient buildings and profuse historical relics. Constructed against the mountain, the temple consists in 36 halls and 18 pavilions. Main cultural and historical spots include Thousand Buddha Hall with 40 Song dynasty clay statues, Pizhi Tower, Tomb Tower Forest, Huichong Tower, Jicui Zhengming Hall, Daxiong Hall, Imperial Library, carved stones and tablets through the ages.
The Thousand Buddha Hall was first built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and was rebuilt many times in the Song and Ming Dynasties. The hall is seven bays wide and four bays deep. Although after times of repairs in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the pedestals of the pillars in the hall are still the work of the Tang and Song dynasties. Dougongs (wooden square blocks inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam) are huge and magnificent. Forty painted clay statues of arhats are arranged around the interior hall, and they are called the First Statues in the World. Molded on real persons, the arhats are vivid, showing happiness, anger, and grief. They are different to each other. According to the painting style and sculpture, experts consider the statues the relics of the Song Dynasty.
It is said in Shandong Province: traveling around Taishan Mountain but missing the Lingyan Temple means you've never been to Taishan Mountain. From the saying, you can know how important the temple is.
The Statues of the 40 Disciples of the Buddha
In the Thousand Buddha Hall, there're statues of 40 disciples of the Buddha. Each statue has its own facial expression. After more than a thousand years, they still standing vividly in front of people. Everybody will highly praise the statues whoever he is a common visitor or an artist of sculpture.
Liu Haisu, the great artist of China has written his praise with calligraphy: The statues in the Lingyan Temple are the finest statues in the world and how vivid they are! From this you can see, the highly skill of ancient workmen is admired by the modern artists.
In the early years of ancient China, people made statues by giant stones and wood. Later, soil was used. Virtually, statues made up of soil are much more exquisite than those made up of stones. The 40 soil statues made in Song Dynasty are more than a thousand years old, but they're perfectly reserved. This is rare!
First built in the twelfth year (753) of the Tianbao reign of the Tang Dynasty, the Pacceka Pagoda is the tallest building in the temple, with a height of 54 meters, an octagonal plane layout, and nine storeys. The pedestal of the tower is built of stones, and the basso-relievos around the pedestal display the excruciation and the ghastful atmosphere of the hell. Pacceka is the abbreviation of Paccekajia Buddha. The Pacceka Pagoda is built to fete Pacceka Buddha, which is very rare in China.
Around the Temple are grotesque and graceful hills which constitute a secluded scenery with elegant springs and stones. You find resorts everywhere in this area, such as Lingyan best spot, Ten Miles Pine, Winding Sandalwood, Dropping Cliff, Lingpi Peak, White Cloud Cave, One Line of Sky, Langgong Stone, Kegong Bed, etc. In the Temple area, there are more than ten springs such as Sweet Spring, Zhuoxi Spring, White Crane Spring, Couple Crane Spring, Kasaya Spring, etc.
Lingyan Temple attracts countless tourists by its unique grace. Scholars and Poets through the ages climbed up and chanted poems or left calligraphy. When Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty went on an imperial tour of the Southland, he stayed at Lingyan Temple eight times and left calligraphies. Wang Shizhen, the scholar of Ming dynasty chanted after touring: “Your visit to Mountain Tai is not complete if you do not come to Lingyan Temple.”
Today, new colors have been added to the old Temple. A Sino –Singapore funded aquarium and butterfly hall. Tourists can watch fish swimming in the Kasaya Spring among the sunset–bathed sights. The old-time atmosphere of Sanskrit singing with bell sounds will also come again. For your accommodation, three high standard hotels are constructed here, which provide more than 400 beds, 20 large and small meeting rooms, 5 Cara Ok dancing halls, 30 dining halls with 1000 seats, fast food bars and service shops for souvenirs. The place has become an ideal place for touring, entertainment and shopping.
Today, new colors have been added to the old Temple. A Sino–Singapore funded aquarium and butterfly hall. Tourists can watch fish swimming in the Kasaya Spring among the sunset–bathed sights. The old-time atmosphere of Sanskrit singing with bell sounds will also come again.
Location: Wande (wàn dé 万德) Village, Changqing (zhǎng qīng 长清) County, Jinan
Admission Fee: CNY 45
Bus Route: Take special line at Jinan Long-distance Bus Stop.