HSI LAI TEMPLE
Hacienda Heights, CA
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Daily)
After all these years of seeing this beautiful temple from my parents house, the biggest Buddhist Temple in the Western Hemisphere, I finally visited. If you love history and chinese architecture you definitely want to visit this place. They even have a delicious Chinese and Taiwanese home-style cooking, all-you-can-eat vegetarian lunch buffet for only $7.
The name Hsi Lai means “coming to the west” is a mountain monastery, with traditional ancient chinese architecture from the Ming and Ching dynasty. Hsi Lai Temple was built to serve as a spiritual and cultural center for those interested in learning more about Buddhism and the Chinese culture.
This place is absolutely breathtaking. The moment I drove up the mountain to park, and saw the beautiful architecture & landscape, there was this calmness that took over me. For someone who has visited China and stepped into other temples, I literally felt I was transported to another country.
No matter what religion you believe in, the beauty of this place and what it means to Buddhists you really feel from the people volunteering there and the daily visitors. This is their place of worship and I can appreciate that.
My sister Sabrina, Brother-in-law Vinny, and my adorable niece Sequoia Rain met me there. I use to travel around the world with my sister a lot when we both lived at home. So many fun memories and I’m happy that I can create new ones with her now being a mom. I still can’t believe this was our first time visiting this place that we can literally see from my parents house. I remember Sabrina and I always use to talk about it. Especially when it’s around Chinese New Year, the whole temple is decorated with beautiful lights that you can see glowing miles away.
When I was a kid I use to say it reminded me of the disney movie “Mulan”.
I suggest doing what we did and arriving there close to when it opens so you can do all your sightseeing and then enjoy a very fulfilling lunch. Depending on how much time you want to spend, you can see everything in 30-40mins or take a couple of hours.
There is no charge to get in but they do accept donations. Pictures are obviously allowed outside just not inside the temples and boy are they beautiful inside.
This hall is dedicated to several enlightened sages who vowed to selflessly serve others with loving-kindness and compassion, and are committed to liberating all beings from suffering.
Seated in this lovely garden are the Eighteen Arhats. As disciples of the Buddha, they have realized the truth of no-self and overcame the defilements of greed, anger and ignorance.
Avalokitesvara the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, may be the most well-known and beloved of the iconic bodhisattvas. Throughout all schools of Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is venerated as the ideal of karuna. Karuna is the activity of compassion in the world and the willingness to bear the pain of others. Surrounding the pond are the four Deva Kings: Virudhaka of the Southern Kingdom (holding a dragon), Dhanada of the Northern Kingdom (holding an umbrella) and Dhrtarastra of the Eastern Kingdom (holding a sitar). The Deva Kings are revered as guardians who protect devout sentient beings from being harmed by unwholesome elements. Also venerating Guanyin bodhisattva are the Dragon Kings of the Four Seas. The waterfall symbolizes the dharma flowing everywhere to purify people’s mind.
The Courtyard is used for walking meditation during retreats as well as many outdoor events. Its geometric pavement rectangles symbolize the rice paddies of China with weeds growing around the edges. According to Buddhist teachings, the lions in each corner of the courtyard symbolize strength and courage, and their roars awaken us from ignorance.
The day we went, was super hot, and poor little Sequoia was not having it. So we spent a good 20 – 30 mins hanging out in the information center.
The information center has complimentary coffee, tea, and water. A place where you can take a moment and relax. You can also watch someone doing Calligraphy.
How adorable is this face???
Throughout the Monastery they have statues and artwork with descriptions of what they represent. They also have an Art Gallery with a small donation fee with a collection of Buddhist artifacts from around the world, along with Chinese art, and temporary displays featuring the works of contemporary artists.
The gardens and landscapes that surround the monastery are absolutely breathtaking with multiple bonsai trees everywhere.
How to get there:
From downtown Los Angeles, take the 60 E/Pomona Freeway to the Hacienda Blvd exit. Turn left onto Three Palms St; right onto S Hacienda Blvd; and left onto S Glenmark Drive.
3456 Glenmark Drive, Hacienda Heights CA 91745
If you’ve been wanting to travel out of the country, you definitely want check out this beautiful place. They even offer Saturday morning Yoga Classes. I forsure want to go back for Chinese New Year, they go all out with lights and decorations.
So glad I finally decided to visit Hsi Lai Temple.
It took me back to 2009 when I went to China. So I say check it out, you’ll get some awesome Insta Pics, and I’ll be honest I went back another day because I loooooved the vegetarian buffet that much.