Hanshan Si or the Cold Mountain Temple is located in a small town named Fengqiao Zhen or Maple Bridge on the outskirts of Suzhou. First built between A.D. 501 and A.D. 519 in the Liang Dynasty of the Period of the Six Dynasties in Chinese history, it was initially named Miaolipuming Tayuan which presumably is a transliteration of a Sanskrit phrase.
Interestingly, it was perhaps the poem entitled Mooring by Fengqiao at Night by Zhang Ji, the Tang poet that made the temple a widely known tourist attraction in the world. Zhang Jiâ€™s poem runs as follows:
Â Â Â Â Â The crows caw to the falling moon;
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The frosty air fills the sky.
Â Â Â Â Â The fisherâ€™s lights gleam, the maples croon;
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â With much sorrow I lie.
Â Â Â Â Â On the outskirts of Suzhou Town;
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â From Han Shan Temple, Hark!
Â Â Â Â Â The midnight vesper bells come down,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Wafting to the roverâ€™s bark.
Sitting on the bank of the Grand Canal between Maple Bridge and River Village Bridge, the temple has high and spacious halls that are neatly laid out. Within the walls of the temple are tall, venerable-looking pines under which flower-bordered paths lead to secluded recesses. The main architectural structures include the main hall, the hall with a circular gallery, the sutra library, the bell tower, a pavilion tower known as Fengjiang Lou or Maple River Tower, etc., with many celebrated inscribed tablets scattered here and there and of course the well-known ancient bronze bell.