Lion Grove Garden (Shizilin) in Suzhou

Why is Lion Grove Garden So Special?

Shizi Forest was founded in the Yuan Dynasty to the second year of Zhengyi (1342) and is one of the representatives of Chinese classical private gardens. It belongs to one of the four famous gardens in Suzhou. Shizi Forest is also a world cultural heritage, a national key cultural relic protection unit and a national AAAA tourist attraction.

Where is Lion Grove Garden

Lion Grove Garden (Shizilin) is located on 23 Yuanlin Road, in the northeast of Suzhou – a city with profound cultural background and convenient developmental advantages. It is one of the four most famous and representative gardens of ancient classical style in Suzhou City.

History of Lion Grove Garden

Lion Grove Garden was built in 1342 of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) by a group of Zen disciples of Tian Ru Monk as a memorial to their master, Monk Zhongfeng. Later, it changed hands and was renamed many times. Monk Tian Ru once studied the Buddhist classics of Shiya in Xitianmu Mountain, Zhejiang Province under the guidance of Monk Zhongfeng. There are also many strange stones shaped like lions in the garden, so the garden was originally named Lion Grove Garden. At that time, the garden was a popular center for scholars and Buddhists to hold activities. Many paintings and poems are inspired by it. Later, its name was changed to Bodhi Hall (Puti Zong Zheng) and Saint Eun Temple.

After Monk Tianru’s death and the disbandment of the disciples, Lion Grove Garden grew more dilapidated day by day. In 1589 of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Monk Mingxing asked for donatives to rebuild the garden and temple, which were separated later during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Huang Xingzu, the governor of Hengzhou, bought the garden and renamed it She Garden. His son, Huang Xi repaired and decorated the garden and gave it a new name – Five-Pine Garden in 1771. Good times don’t last long – Lion Grove was again left to ruin due to Huang’s downfall and purchased by Bei family in 1917. After 1949, the garden entered a steady and well-protected period.

Main Attractions of Lion Grove Garden

Flower Basket Hall

The flower basket hall is built with water on the surface and has a platform in front. There are 14 long landing windows in the south of the hall, each engraved with a Tang poem, and 6 long windows in the north of the hall all engraved with stories of landscape characters. The steps in the hall do not fall to the ground, and the ends of the pillars are carved into basket shapes and plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum.

Cloud Chamber

The sleeping cloud room is a meditation room where monks rest. It has a convex shape, with two layers and six top and bottom corners respectively. It has a peculiar shape and is the only “room” in Suzhou gardens. The space around the pavilion is extremely narrow, as if it were in a mountain depression with heavy rock walls. “lying on the cloud” comes from yuan haowen’s poem “when to lie on the cloud, because of the festival, you are lazy.”

Ancient Five Pine Garden

When Kangxi was in Qing Dynasty, there were five towering Gu Song trees in the Lion Grove, so the Lion Grove was also called the Five Pine Garden. The ancient Five Pine Garden is now an east-west hall. The plaque “Ancient Five Pine Garden” was inscribed by Su Juxian. Under the plaque, Mr. Wu Zhimu made a picture of five loose silk screens.

The whole structure of Lion Grove Garden shows a flavor of Zen Buddhism and is an apotheosis of the gardens’ constructions. A part of the Imperial Summer Resort of the Qing Dynasty in Chengde of Hebei Province was a mimic of this garden. The garden occupies a very important place in history, representing the diversity of cultural and architectural development in Suzhou over the years.

Best Time to Travel Lion Grove Garden

March-April and September-October are the best travel times in Lion Grove Garden.

But in Hangzhou, there is no season or weather. No matter in spring, summer, autumn and winter, rain or shine, rain or snow, it can conjure up a beautiful appearance. September-November: The weather is crisp in autumn, and sweet osmanthus trees full of Longgui rain are fragrant for ten miles. Before and after the Mid-Autumn Festival, you can watch the spring tide in Qiantang during the day and enjoy the moon in the lake at night. March-May: The spring breeze is warm and the spring water is intoxicating. It is most suitable for strolling along the Suzhou Creek and enjoying the flowers.

How to Get There

  • Take bus no. 55, 178, 202, 262, 309, 518, 529, 811, 923 or 925, or tourist bus no. 1, 2 or 5, and then get off at Suzhou Museum Station.
  • Take bus no. 301 or 305 and get off at Shizilin South Station.

Useful Travel Tips

Admission Fee April, May, July, August, September and October: CNY 40
January, February, March, June, November and December: CNY 30
* Note:
1. Children below 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) can enter for free when accompanied by an adult.
2. Children between 3.9 and 4.9 feet (1.2 and 1.5 meters) can enjoy half price.
Opening Hours March 1 to October 15: 07:30 to 17:30
October 16 to the end of February of next year: 07:30 to 17:00
* Note: Tickets sale stops half an hour before the closing time.
  • If you want to walk longer, be sure to bring a pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Whether you are traveling to West Lake or Hangzhou, bicycles are very good choices. 

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Doreen/张洋