Lion Grove Garden (Shizilin) is located on 23 Yuanlin Road, northeast of Suzhou. Lion Grove Garden is one of the four most famous and representative gardens of ancient classical style in Suzhou City. The other three are Blue Wave Pavilion (Canglangta), Lingering Garden (Liuyuan) and Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhuozhengyuan).
Lion Grove Garden,covering an area of about 10,000 square meters, was built in 1342 during China's Yuan Dynasty, by a monk Tianru and a group of Zen Buddhists as a memorial of their master and teacher Zhongfeng. Its name had been changed many times. The original name of the garden was "Shizi'lin Si"(The Lion Grove Temple), later called "Putizhengzong Temple" and then "The Holy Grace Temple". It was historically recorded that the site of the temple had a lot of strange stones that shaped like lions. Another story told that the Monk Tianru attained a spiritual enlightenment from the Master Zhongfeng on the Lion Rock of the Tianmushan Mountain in Zhejiang Province, so the temple acquired its name. The Lion Grove Garden had been repaired and renovated between 1917 and 1926.
The whole structure of the Lion Grove Garden is divided into three parts, the Ancestral Temple, the Residential Houses and the Courtyards. The Ancestral Temple is initially for the Bei's family in the past. Tour the majestic temple, you may feel the silence and solemn atmosphere of it. The residential zone is represented by the Yanyu Hall which is the main architecture of the Lion Grove Garden, with high ceiling and magnificent decoration. Four small gardens are located in the back of the hall that they are filled with yulan and peony flowers of vivid color.
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 Lion Grove Garden. The garden occupies a very important place in history, representing the diversity of cultural and architectural development in Suzhou over the years.