Brief of Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill
Nanping Hill (Southern Screen Hill), like a painted screen, lies along the south bank of West Lake. As pretty as West Lake and as ancient as Hangzhou city, it is blessed with a time-honored magnificent Buddhist monastery known for its sonorous evening bell who's sound scatters itself around the still forest, sprinkles itself on the lake’s surface, and spreads itself over the holy pilgrimage.
At the foot of Nanping Hill lies Jingci Temple, one of the four famous monasteries around West Lake. Built beside the temple was the bell tower overlooking the south shore of the lake. When the bell is rung in the evening, its sonorous sound not only echoes through the caves and cavities of the hill over the valleys but reaches as far as the other shore of the lake. This is the Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill, traditionally known as one of the “Ten Scenes of West Lake”.
The temple with its bell witnessed many changes through a few dynasties until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when the old bell was replaced with a much bigger one, as heavy as 10 tons. The inscription of the view by Qing Dynasty (1636-1911) emperor Kangxi was engraved on the stone tablet housed in the pavilion. The present bronze bell, 3 meters in height and 2.3 meters in diameter, is more than 19 tons in weight. Engraved on the bell are Lotus Sutra in seven volumes and the inscription by the late chairman of the China Buddhists’ Association.
The bell at Jingci Temple is struck twice daily, with 54 strokes in the morning and in the evening respectively. There are a couple of explanations about the number of 108 strokes. One of the explanations is that the number 108 auspiciously corresponds to the total number of 12 months and 24 solar terms and 72 five-day periods that the Chinese lunar year has. Another is that there are 108 worries in the human world, which can be rung out.
Source: New Greater Hangzhou: A New Guide By George Chen