Looking for some peace and quiet away from all the rush hour traffic and overpopulated tourist destinations of LA?
Hidden in the mountains of Hacienda Heights, lies the largest Chinese Buddhist Temple in the United States. Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple is a traditional Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monastery, created in the fashion of Ming and Ching dynasty architecture. Not only does this space provide breathtaking mountainous views, but it also offers an awesome vegetarian buffet that is open to the public!
3456 Glenmark Dr., Hacienda Heights, 91745
The vegetarian buffet is open to the public Monday through Friday, 11:30am-1:30pm, as well on Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm.
When parking at the bottom of the hill, you are greeted by an enormous gateway titled, "International Buddhist Progress Society."
Just like any other mountain or "hike" in China, you must climb a series of stairs to reach the entrance. While entry to the grounds are free, it is recommended you give a small donation.
On both sides of the main archway rest these huge Buddha head statues. If you stay up all night playing around on Photoshop CC like me, you recognize the epic potential these statues have for creating "double exposures." Below, I adorned this Buddha statue with a crown blended from a mountain peak. Pretty cool huh? =p
Upon entering the main building, you may request a tour or inquire about other temple services. If you are here just to observe, you can mousy on by the workers at the front desk....but not before checking out all the cool statues in this room!
Walking out of this high vaulted ceiling room, you will find yourself at the Temple Square. This is the first view you will find!
As you can see, a paper sign sits on top of this wide stairway, signalling for guests to keep quiet as the meditation class has begun. We were lucky enough to witness this monk ring his bell as students ushered into the main meditation hall.
The grounds were now almost completely silent. With only 30 minutes before closing time, we soaked in as much of the ambiance as we could. Feeling how peaceful it was there, it made me recall my time in Hong Kong at a 10 day silent Vipissana meditation retreat.
If you are lucky enough to come around sunset, you may find that all the monks have entered their group meditation. At this point guests have also slowly trickled out of the grounds. That's the only way you'll be able to snag a photo like this! I highly recommend a short trip to this famous Buddhist temple, as you most likely will not find a more peaceful place than this in LA.