China’s Colorful Culture Comes Alive in Suzhou

Posted on 09/02/2017

Looking for a reason to visit China? The stunning temples of Suzhou is a good one.

Despite being known as the Venice of the East, Suzhou is still considered an off-the-beaten-path destination in China. Home to some of the oldest Buddhist architecture in the world, the city also houses the country’s most cherished temples.

The landmarks are beloved by the locals but remain hidden gems for visitors looking to find something new and alluring while exploring China.

Suzhou’s oldest pagoda stands on Tiger Hill. More than 1,000 years old, the Yunyan Pagoda is also known as the Huqiu Tower and has eight sides that stand seven stories high. Perched high on a hill and leaning dramatically to one side—similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa—it has become a symbol of Suzhou.

Song Dynasty architecture lives on in the Xuanmiao Temple, also called the Temple of Mystery. This is the city’s premier Taoist temple and is located on bustling Guanqian Street. Three Purities Hall is the temple’s main attraction and houses a collection of colossal pillars inlaid with Taoist deities.

Considered the epicenter of Taoist music in Suzhou, visitors are often lured into the temple by the enchanting melodies of the monks.

The city is also home to one of the 10 great temples of China, Hanshan Temple or Cold Mountain Temple. This treasure has more than 1,500 years of history and is known for its bell-ringing on New Year’s Eve.

The temple was also included in the poem “Mooring for the Night at Fengqiao Bridge” by Zhang Ji, a Tang Dynasty poet. There is an inscription of the verse on a stone tablet near Maple Bridge.

The 2.5-acre Xiyuan Temple is Suzhou’s largest Buddhist monastery. At 700 years old, the architecture demonstrates the flawless balance between buildings, sculpture and gardens present at the time. Yellow walls, curved eaves and a collection of gilded Buddhist saints have drawn visitors into its midst as well as its peaceful Life-Releasing Pond and flourishing garden.

Suzhou’s North Temple Pagoda is the oldest and tallest pagoda south of the Yangtze River. At nine stories high, it dominates the skyline and is sometimes shrouded in mist. Visitors come to climb the spiral staircase for sweeping views of the city and beyond.

Getting There

To visit the temples, several tour operators highlight them during itineraries visiting Suzhou. Contact one of our agents at Flair Travel and we'll be pleased to find the perfect itinerary for you!

To experience the temples on a day trip, take the one-day Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Tour with Gray Line. Guests will enjoy cruising Suzhou’s stunning canals, visiting Zhouzhuang Water Village, the Master of Nets Garden and more.

Source: Travelpulse

PHOTO: Tiger Hill, Suzhou, China. (photo via Pixabay/snake8205637)