[Travel] A day in Hangzhou; the White Snake Legend and Buddha

Sami (my housemate in Shanghai) and I, decided for a day trip on the cool Saturday to Hangzhou (杭州; Hángzhōu). Taking the bus from Xujiahui Bus Station, Shanghai, as the closest bus station from our place. The bus arrived at North Bus Station of Hangzhou around 9-ish in the morning. Since it’s only a day, we try to cramp down “some” touristy areas and hop on the available ‘unique’ tourist “Y2” bus.


Our first stop is the Leifeng Pagoda (雷峰塔) in the Evening Glow. Mind, it’s not part of our itinerary (did we have a plan? nope), but why not right?


The base of the Original Pagoda still exist underneath the Pagoda, a broken down structure and excavated site. It was built in 977 AD with bricks and wood. During the Japan invasion, the building was burned and later collapse.

The Leifeng Pagoda stood now is a rebuilt and opened in 2002. Notice the neat escalator and elevator. Much of the exterior and the interior are ‘new’.


For me the Pagoda is ‘okay’, another touristy site. But I can’t argue with the view.


Leifeng Pagoda is also famous for the story “the Legend of the White Snake”. Right in the childhood. I used to watch this on weekdays afternoon.

The short story is like this: Bai Suzhen (Chinese: 白素貞; pinyin: Bái Sùzhēn), the Lady White Snake, transformed into a lovely lady. She met Xu Xian at the Broken Bridge in West Lake, Hangzhou. They fell in love and get married. Due to a trick from Fahai, a monk, he died of shock seeing his wife’s true form, that of a white snake.

Xu Xian was revived and reunited with Bai Suzhen in Hangzhou, but Fahai caught her and imprisoned her in Leifeng Pagoda.

Next we visit the Lingyin Temple, (灵隐寺 Língyǐn Sì) or Temple’s of the Soul’s Retreat. The temple is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist Temple in China from the Chan sect. It’s also one of the 10 largest Zen temple in China.


The temple and monastery was founded in 326 AD by Hui Li, an Indian monk. It’s famous for the Feilai Feng (飞来峰; “the peak that flew hither”) grottos and the lovely walks around the mountains. The grotto was carved during the Song Dynasty, expressing the story of three monks. The first story features the White Horse carrying the Buddhist sutras, the Indian monks Matanga and Dharmaratna. The second story of Chu Shixing of Yingchuan County, state of Wei during the period of the Three Kingdoms. The third features Master Tsuantsang of the Tang dysnasty.


I love the window decoration


The Hall of the Heavenly Kings (Chinese: 天王殿; pinyin: Tiānwáng Diàn)


At the Grand Hall of the Great Sage Buddha, housed Shakyamuni. The 24.8 meters in height wooden statue is the largest sitting Buddha on a lotus in China. The carving have 24 carving camphor wood. His eyes in solemn kindness, the left hand rest on the foot and the right fingers up in the gesture of Mudra teaching.


The Bhaisajyaguru Buddha, or the Medicine Buddha of Lapis Lazuli Crystal Radiance for serenity and colemnity. It’s housed in Hall of the Medicine Buddha. The statue is accompany by two Bodhisattvas; Suryaprabha and Candraprabha (the sun and the moon). They are the “Three Sages from the East” or “The Three Great Medicine Bodhisattvas.”


Bronze Bell


Stone decoration carving on the wall


Shakyamuni, Manjusri, and Samantabhadra at Huayan Hall.

The Great Sage overlooking the complex

Our last stop is a short walk in some part of the West Lake (西湖, Xī Hú), one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. During autumn the Lotus flowers are not in bloom. The walk is wonderful though. Light breeze, not too cold yet. The lake is large and shame we didn’t get to see much. We only have 1-2 hours before sunset. Would love to visit it again someday and spend at least a day to walk around and see the scenic places more.


The Broken Bridge (断桥) where Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian met and the Legend of the White Snake


Huxin Pavilion on the West Lake

Source: Lingyinsi Temple


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