Thousand year ancient temples with two old gingko trees
Living a leisure life with few neighbors, seeing grass entering the wilderness of the garden; Birds sleeping on trees by the bond, monks knocking at the door under the moonlight. Crossing the bridge to enjoy the beauty on the other end and the clouds moving above magnificent rocks; I am leaving but I will be back, although I am not sure the exact date.

This is a famous poem by Jia Dao in Tang Dynasty. We can imagine through these lines the tranquility of the temple, with ancient trees so tall and a monk coming from afar, hearing the birds chirping on the trees and the moonlight shed from above. So the monk knocked at the door of the temple. It's so much like what happened at Rock Buddha Temple in the past.


Buddhist temple with high gingko trees

In China's renowned mountains, there are lots of temples with ancient trees. Gingko trees are favored by monks due to their longevity and elegance. A temple with hundreds of years of history can hardly reserve the original constructions, but usually there are old trees with hundreds of years of age, which were either planted by the founder or celebrity of a certain time. Sometimes, the trees are there and the temple is gone. The old trees that survive to now have become the only symbol for us to seek the ancient temples' relics. These trees have gone through all the hardship in the past and give people a sense of mysteriousness.


Buddhism was booming in Tang Dynasty when lots of temples were built. The well preserved old gingko trees are mostly found in temples, as a result of careful protection done by the monks. Si Mo, a Tang monk wrote a poem that is passed to now, which depicts the old trees in the temple with large bells tolled in the towns down the mountains.

Gingko trees are used as replacement of linden trees, called by Buddhists as "saint fruit trees" and the kernels are called saint fruits. Therefore, "saint fruit" and "saint fruit trees" are the names for gingko in Tang Dynasty and pre-Tang Dynasty periods. Trees are the best witness for the years of ancient temples.

Thousands of years of gingko as a totem

As the legacy of the Rock Buddha Temple in Fengqiao, the two gingko trees are tall, with straight trunks, gorgeous profile. They are pure green in spring and summer, golden yellow in late autumn. One of them stands on the east bank and one west bank. It's said that they are of different gender. Isn't it a pity that they've been looking at each other for thousands of years, with a creek between them and that they can't embrace?

However, maybe we can put it more romantic. Gingko trees follow dioecism. The male tree is tall and upright, the female is graceful and chubby. This couple is the best witness of people in love and the longevity of them symbolizes the lasting love between the lovers.

According to the local legend, the two gingko trees are part of the land of dragon. The two gingko trees are the horns of the dragon, the Sanbuliangban Bridges are the whiskers, the long dike after the bridge is the body and the pond in front of the Temple is eyes. The trees are around 29 meters, with thick trunk, dense leaves and it takes many people to embrace them close. In 2002, protection plates were issued to these precious ancient trees by Nanhu People's Government of Jiaxing and according to an examination, these trees are over 1240 years old, being the oldest trees in Jiaxing.

Gingko, as the most ancient relic plants in existence, takes over 2 decades from plantation to fruiting. Massive fruiting of gingko takes place in 40 years. These trees have been surviving for over 1000 years and are once called live fossils.

On the plain at Zhejiang province, it is a rare thing to see ancient trees like these. The large gingko trees are guarding the Rock Buddha Temple like two sturdy warriors. These two trees are not only safeguarding the Temple but the whole Hang-Jia-Hu plain. The height of the trees is the thickness of the history. They live up to the name of Jiaxing's cultural totem, with thousands of years of history that benefit everyone in the world. Therefore, these two trees are also known as the Kings of Trees on the Plain.