Sight Seen : Wow HongKong - Chi Lin Nunnery

Hong Kong - Chi Lin Nunnery

One of the most beautiful and arrestingly built environments in Hong Kong, this large Buddhist complex, originally dating from the 1930s, was rebuilt completely of wood (and not a single nail) in the style of the Tang dynasty in 1998. It is a serene place, with lotus ponds, immaculate bonsai tea plants and bougainvillea, and silent nuns delivering offerings of fruit and rice to Buddha and arhats (Buddhist disciples freed from the cycle of birth and death) or chanting behind intricately carved screens.
The design (involving intricately interlocking sections of wood joined without a single nail) is intended to demonstrate the harmony of humans with nature. It’s pretty convincing – until you see the high-rises looming behind the complex.

You enter the complex through the Sam Mun, a series of ‘three gates’ representing the Buddhist precepts of compassion, wisdom and ‘skilful means’. The first courtyard, which contains the delightful Lotus Pond Garden, gives way to the Hall of Celestial Kings, with a large statue of the seated Buddha surrounded by the deities of the four cardinal points. Behind that is the main hall, containing a statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha flanked by two standing disciples and two seated Bodhisattvas.

To reach the nunnery, take exit C2 of Diamond Hill MTR station, walk through the Hollywood Plaza shopping centre and turn east on to Fung Tak Rd. The nunnery is a five-minute walk away.