Opulent temple sits atop of a mountain. Its exquisite golden roofs rise above other structures nearby. Temple’s specious white patios open beautiful views of the surroundings. Peace and serenity of the place envelop you. Fresh air with slight hint of burning incense spread throughout the whole sanctuary. Occasional monks in yellow robes appear from one building and quickly vanish behind the doors of another. They don’t bother you at all. On the contrary, these quiet residents add balance and harmony to the temple. No, it’s not a picture of a Buddhist temple in Asia. This is what you can expect to see when visiting Hsi Lai Temple in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
History of Hsi Lai Temple
Hsi Lai Temple is a monastery in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles County. The temple is a relatively young resident of Southern California. It came into existence in 1988 as an overseas branch temple of Fo Guang Shan, a Buddhist organization from Taiwan.
Before finding its permanent home in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles County, Hsi Lai Temple went through a series of obstacles. Public opinion was one of them. In fact, in 1980s the local communities were not ready for Buddhist practices. While skepticism against Buddhism was a main issue in some neighborhoods of LA, others had far simpler reasons. Increased traffic was not something they were looking for.
Nevertheless, the founders of Hsi Lai Temple showed unprecedented persistence. They carried on with their plan of building a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles County despite numerous “noes” and unfavorable public opinion. Finally, in 1985 the originators of the temple received a building permit. And three years later, the sanctuary opened the doors for its first residents and visitors.
Finding Zen in Sanctuaries of Hsi Lai Temple
Hsi Lai is one of the most remarkable Buddhist places of worship in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The temple consists of a few shrines, gardens and Memorial pagoda, used as the memorial to the deceased. Beautiful passages with statues of Buddhist deities connect all parts of the sanctuary.
A visit to the Hsi Lai Temple starts at the Bodhisattva Hall, the first shrine you enter upon your arrival. The hall is dedicated to five bodhisattvas and includes three doors, symbols of the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Sharma and the Sangha).
The left side of the temple is home to the Arhat Garden. This small space with fountains was built to honor the earliest disciples of the Buddha.
The Avalokitesvara Garden is located across the hall from the Arhat Garden. It depicts the sitting on a rock bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with a few followers by her side.
At the far end of the inner yard, big stairway leads you to the main shrine, the most important building of the temple. Apart from large bells and drums, images of the Buddha signify the importance of this structure. According to the Buddhist traditions, the main shrine of Hsi Lai Temple is dedicated to Sakyamuni or simply the Buddha.
Furthermore, dining hall on the first floor of the temple provides a chance to taste Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine. For a small fee visitors of Hsi Lai Temple can indulge in home-style vegetarian dishes. The lunch buffet is open daily from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on weekdays and 11:30 am to 2:30 on weekends.
Things to Know before Visiting the Sanctuary
Anybody can visit Hsi Lai Temple. There is no restriction based on religion or denomination. However, it’s important to know a few things and rules before visiting the temple.
- Address: 3456 Glenmark Dr, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
- The temple is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Free visitor parking is available.
- Meat products and fish are prohibited.
- Photography is not allowed inside the buildings. However, it’s permitted outside including the gardens of Hsi Lai Temple.
- Drone photography is strictly prohibited.