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Ling Gu Monastery, Beamless Hall

Ling Gu Monastery is located on the Dulong Mound, outside the Zhongshan Gate in Nanjing City. It used to be one of the three famous temples in the Ming Dynasty (1386 ~ 1644A.D.).

While stepping into the gate of Ling Gu Monastery, you will find old pines reaching into the skies on either side of the road. It is "Ancient Pines in Ling Gu Monastery", which is one of 40 scenic spots in Nanjing City.

There are many wonderful sights in the temple, such as Wangongchi (Ten Thousand Labors Pond), Bagongdeshui (Water Having Eight Virtues), Wuliangdian (the Beamless Hall), Meihuawu (Sunken Flowerbed of Plum), Baogong Pagoda and so on. Wangongchi got its name because 10,000 workers dug it. Bagongdeshui is famous for its water, which has eight advantages.

The most well known building in the temple is Wuliangdian (the Beamless Hall), which is the only extant ancient building in Ling Gu Monastery. In the hall enshrines Buddha of the Infinite Life.

The building is unique because there is neither beams or pillars in the hall. Hence, the hall is call Wuliangdian (the Beamless Hall). The hall is in the shape of rectangle, in front of it is a spacious balcony. The hall is very imposing and grand.

The outside of the hall is an imitation of wooden structure. Under the roof are outstretched corbel brackets. In the front of the hall are antique doors and windows.

In the Ling Gu Monastery, there are simple halls and old trees reaching into the skies. Birds are singing in the woods, which brings liveliness to the quiet temple. The scenery in each season is unique. Especially in autumn, the whole mound is cover with the red leaves of maples, which looks like red flames. The perfume of the sweet-osmanthus is floating here and there.

Behind the Beamless Hall is Songfengge (Pavilion of Wind Passing Pines). Standing in the pavilion, you can look as far as your eyes can see. Behind the pavilion is a road lead to the 9-storied Linggu Pagoda. The pagoda initially named "Monument of Sacrificed Guomingdang Generals and Soldiers".

Linggu Pagoda
 
The 60 meter high, 9 storey, Linggu Pagoda was completed in 1933.  The pagoda serves as a memorial for the Nationalist soldiers that died in the 1926-1928 revolution.  A spiral staircase  around the central pillar leads all the way to the top.  Looking out from the pagoda, you can see the Purple Mountain forest and Nanjing’s skyscrapers rising in the distance

On each story of the pagoda is carved with characters. Visitors often climb the monument and enjoy the scenery here. Many old veterans who took part in the battles with Guomingdang in the past and later migrated to Taiwan; Singapore or western countries often come here to pay a visit to their former friends.

The Beamless Hall

What is most worth visiting and often talked by the people with great relish in the Beamless Hall are its three qualities.

The first one is its huge span of arches. The largest span of arch is 11.4 meters long and 14 meters high. The second is its corbel brackets. It stretches out over one meter. The third is its craftsmanship to make arches. Although it is made of bricks, the hall is an integral whole.

The three qualities make the Beamless Hall beautiful and solid. Weathering through the wind and storm for more than 600 years, the hall is still well preserved. It is the largest and oldest brick-made hall in China.

History

The constructions between Ling Gu Monastery and the tomb of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang in Ming Dynasty are related. Zhongshan Hill in Jiangsu Province had been a Buddhist resort before founding the Ming Dynasty. More than 70 temples were scattered near Zhongshan Hill

When Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang decided to build his tomb, he took a fancy to Dulong Mound and ordered that all the temples must be move to the southeastern slope of Zhongshan Hill. Later all the temples were combines into one temple, which was named Lingshan Temple.The temple is famous in Chinese history. It is said that in the Ming Dynasty, Linggu Temple flourished. Crowds filled the place to burn joss sticks. It is said that the temple could hold 1,000 monks at that time.

The vegetarian diet in the temple is renowned for over 600 years. The ingredients of the dishes are chosen very carefully; the cooking is very meticulous; the appearance of the food is also very nice. Though the dishes are without meat, the taste is even better than the ones with meat. Shensong House, the famous vegetarian restaurant in the temple, lies to the east of Songlin Pavilion. Surrounded Shensong House, is a thick forest and blooming flowers. To the east of Shensong House, a spring runs under a bridge, and to the west, the sound of the bell emanates from the ancient temple. Dining here can bring you both the wonderful taste of the food and an enjoyment of natural beauty.

Admission Fee: CNY 80
Bus Route: 9, Tourism Bus No. 3


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