Hanshan Temple, also referred to as “Cold Mountain Temple” is an ancient Buddhist monastery and temple in Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province, East China. In fact, this important place of worship can be located just outside the Suzhou’s old city, about 5 kilometers from it in the Fengqiao town. It is widely believed that this Buddhist temple was founded by Liang Emperor Wu and belonged to an era when the Jiangsu Province was ruled by the Northern and Southern dynasties.
The current name of the temple has been derived from the name of a monk who visited it, some hundred years after it was founded. Hanshan was a popular poet and monk during his time and he visited the temple with Shide, his disciple, at the time when the area was ruled by Emperor Taizong. Hanshan later went on to become the head of the monastery
Spread over three acres, the Hanshan Temple complex presents an excellent overview of the architecture that prevailed during the Qing Dynasty. The temple complex includes Sutra-Collection building, the Grand Prayer Hall, Fengjiang Pavilion, Tablets Corridor and the Bell Tower.
What to watch out for?
1. The Bell
The two large bells that have been installed in the temple premises is a huge draw for all the temple visitors. These bells were installed at a time when the temple was being rebuilt during the rule of Qing dynasty. Interestingly, both these temple bells were forged at the same time; one of them in Japan and the other in China. According to many historians, the original bell that was installed in the temple premise was taken over to Japan. One of the present day bells has the dedication written by Ito Hirobumi, Japanese Prime Minister. The ravaging controversy that erupted between the Koreans and the Chinese was based on these important factors.
A new bell has been commissioned for the Hanshan Temple and it is being built in Wuhan. This 108 ton bell will replace the Japanese bell that was erected many decades back. According to sources, the new bell has a diameter of 5.2 meters at its widest region and will be 8.5 meters in height. Thousands of pilgrims visit the Hanshan Temple during Chinese New Year; just to hear the temple bells ringing.
During Chinese New Year day, the bell is rung 108 times. According to a Chinese legend, these rings symbolize the 108 troubles that one may have to endure during that year. People who are lucky enough to hear the bells ringing will have their troubles eliminated immediately.
There is another reason why the Hanshan Temple is famous for, particularly in Eastern Asia. This fame has come out because of the poem that was written by Zhang Ji, a poet from the Tang Dynasty. The poem describes a tired traveler who hears the bell ringing at the temple in the middle of the night. People across Korea, Japan and China still read a lot of this poem. In fact, this poem has been included in the school curriculum of Japan and China.
You can cannot visit the Hanshan Temple and leave without seeing the Puming Pagoda or the Buddhism Pagoda as is commonly referred to as. The 138 feet statue was erected in 1995 and soon became the symbol of the temple.
The temple complex has several statues that are worth seeing. The prominent one is that of Sakyamuni, the Buddhist patriarch. This bronze statue has been installed in hall to enable devotees to offer their prayers. In addition to this statue, there are bronze statues depicting three monks: Kong Hai, Jian Zhen and Xuan Zang.
The Maple Bridge
The wonderful Maple Bridge lies on the Jinghang Canal, a man-made canal that is possibly the largest of its kind in the world. This bridge represents the area where a boat carrying Zhang Ji was moored. Visitors interested in having a sneak peek of Fengqiao town’s old style living can come to this bridge and get a feel of the same.