Adjoining Nan Lian Garden is Chi Lin Nunnery. Like the buildings in Nan Lian Garden the structures in the Nunnery are built without nails using traditional Tang Dynasty design. These buildings are relatively recent, constructed in the 1990’s however their styling is quite unique.
Public access around the nunnery is limited to the ponds, temples and hallways around the ponds holding various gods. Much of the nunnery is unable to be accessed so don’t assume you’ll be able to get to everything you can see from the road.
The temple area and ponds compliment the Nan Lian Garden with the same serene atmosphere found in the gardens.
Dragonflies flit above the ponds, occasionally settling on the lilies. Everyone who wanders through here is respectfully quiet.
I loved the subtle patterns and details of the ponds. If my camera hadn’t run out of battery (my fault!) I think I would have ended up with hundreds of photos of different aspects of the ponds alone. The dragon heads (could I call them gargoyles?) spouting water were simply captivating.
This is a place where you have to keep your eyes open if you want to catch the little bits of detail hidden before you. This poor lion is squashed amongst a much bigger pedestal.
An everlasting light stood vigil in the centre of the ponds as you headed towards the main temple. A custodian seemed to constantly check on it. The main temple itself housed a couple of extremely large golden Buddha and several smaller gods. Photos weren’t allowed so you’ll have to trust me when I say the detail and design on these gods was amazing.
Interesting and ornate lights and fixtures were to be found everywhere. All the layers building to create the whole left me obsessed with the shapes and intricacies.
Even the rooftops had distinct patterns and little gods guarding the eaves. Combined with the ambience of the nunnery it made me feel like I had stepped back in time. It was hard not to be humbled by the halls and temple.
As I mentioned you can’t take photos of all the gods in the hallways and temples however there are a LOT of them. Many have an explanation of who the god is in both English and Chinese to help you appreciate why people may be praying to them. This is a working nunnery and there were several people worshipping their various gods and making offerings while we were there so we made sure to be respectful of them as we looked around.
Chi Lin Nunnery may not be ancient but it is a beautiful example of unusual architecture set within fascinating gardens and ponds. As it is off the beaten track it isn’t as abound with tourists as other sights around Hong Kong although the odd tour group do go through the Nan Lian Gardens. It is certainly worth a trip just to see the architecture alone.
How to get there:
Take the MTR to Diamond Hill (on the Red Line). The nunnery is connected to Nan Lian Garden and across the road from Hollywood Plaza shopping mall.
Follow the signs to the Nan Lian Garden. You can walk through the garden to get to Chi Lin Nunnery. Entry to the public areas of the nunnery are FREE.