The Hsi Lai Temple, based on the centuries of Chinese culture and architecture of the Ming and Ching dynasties, fits well in the diversity of Los Angeles area. I’ve visited the temple with my family many times over the years and as we roamed the buildings and courtyard they conjured up the look and feel of ancient dynasties, of Emperors, and of Empresses. And yet the thriving community on the grounds couldn’t be more LA with Boy Scout troops, kids’ summer programs, various classes, and (of course) tourists. The Hsi Lai Temple, one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the Western Hemisphere, was always a beehive of modernity.
My most recent visit happened to be a solo event. I strolled around leisurely and took it all in. I marveled at the beautiful sparkling buildings, the welcoming gateway, ornate rooms, gardens, and courtyard to name a few of the features. Since it was summertime lots of kids scurried about as different activities were taking place. So, even with tourists roaming around I still got a sense of community here.
I knew from previous trips the Hsi Lai Temple serves as a monastery with monks and nuns on the premises. They provide among their many other duties, classes, lectures, and workshops on a variety of subjects including Chinese culture and language.
In Chinese the name Hsi Lai means “Coming West”. In 1976, the subject of constructing a monastery in the United States came up in when the Buddhist Master Hsing Yun visited the U.S. to participate in America’s Bicentennial. American friends proposed the idea. Potential locations selected for the monastery met hard resistance from the communities approached. Eventually (after over a hundred community meetings) building permits were granted for the current site- the north slope of Puente Hills in Hacienda Heights, the unincorporated area of San Gabriel Valley. The building was completed in 1986 and the monastic community proved to be good neighbors.
Occasionally, you’ll see the Hsi Lai Monastery referred to as a “Mountain Monastery”. I’m not sure the Puente Hills measure up to the title of mountain but stand a the top railing and look out. You’ll get the feeling of vast grounds high over a valley. So if you’re interested in visiting the Hsi Lai Temple, the dramatic sights are both the temple and the sprawling valley.
To visit the temple take the 60 Freeway to S. Hacienda Blvd off-ramp in Hacienda Heights. Go south approximately 2 miles and at Glenmark Dr and watch for signs on the left hand side of the road (See the map Below). For more detailed information go to their website www.hsilai.org. If you do visit the temple, tours are available and be sure to inquire about their vegetarian buffet lunch. Walk the grounds but take your time. Here you can marvel at the blend of ancient Chinese architecture and culture, and the very modern community that adds to the diversity of LA.
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Here are posts of other Uniquely Los Angeles destinations you will enjoy. If you’re looking for a pleasant outing plan a visit and go enjoy yourself.
-Friends, Romans, and …Angelenos
-Bradbury Building-A Lasting Gem in Los Angeles
-The Last Book Store
-The Magic Castle
-Grauman’s Chinese Theater
-Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits
-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
-Rose Bowl Stadium