Located near Singing Sand Dunes, the historic Leiyin temple is the only working temple with this name in Northwest China. The front courtyards are the older, dating back to the 1980s, while the back part is being reconstructed on the model of the monastery portrayed in the Tang dynasty Pure Land mural of Cave 172 in the Mogao caves.
Visitors explore three courtyards each boasting a main hall and side buildings. The first courtyard’s Hall of the King of Heaven hosts a jolly fat gold Maitreya Buddha. Garish colored huge statues of the four big kings of heaven hulk in the side arches. The gate to the second courtyard, whose green tiled roof is appointed with eave decorations of dragons and small lions, leads to the Hall of Great Wisdom. Sakyamuni commands its centre and on his left and right are the Medicine Buddha and Amitabha. The north and south wall are embellished with copies of Mogao murals.
From the back of the second hall you emerge onto a Worship and Overview Platform,Which is the best place to vies the reconstructed Tang Monastery. Simply magnificent, the Tang monastery must be one of the best reconstructed ancient building complexes in China. All buildings are wood, which looks splendid but is a fire risk necessitating strict regulation about incense burning.
The bell tower and the drum tower, summon monks to pray in the morning and at night respectively. Framed by the two towers, the third palace at the back of the third courtyard is called the palace of light. In keeping with Tang architectural principles, no nails were used in its construction. The palace houses 24 gods to protect the Buddha.
About 30 monks work at the temple and 15 to 20 are in full time residence. If you visit at the right time, it is possible to join the monks for free vegetarian food.
Entrance to the temple is free. Breakfast is served at 5:30am, linch at 11:30am and dinner at 6pm.