The Cultural Revolution was so thorough here that only the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) pagoda was left standing. The extensive complex has been reconstructed over the last few years entirely with donations from the faithful, and includes one of the largest "10,000 Buddha" halls in the world.
The temple saw the foundation of a sect of Zen (Chan) Buddhism, and its beginnings date from 220 during the Eastern Han dynasty. Xuanzang is said to have studied here before his trip to India in search of authoritative texts. The temple is entered through a small grove of cypresses (for which it is named), and has a calm bustle of activity from shaven-headed monks in orange and brown robes. One or two English-speakers tend to seek out foreign visitors and are happy to answer queries, show you around, and explain Zen principles and the Shenghuo (life) variant introduced by Venerable Master Jinghui, the driving force behind the temple's change from weeds and rubble into an impressive complex. Then-President Jiang Zemin visited in 2001. Perhaps the rumors are true and he is a closet Buddhist.