Happening nearby: Lynnwood Buddhist Temple offers sensory cultural experience

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Screenshot (453)Lynnwood is much like many other suburban towns. We have a big mall, a giant Target and a really fancy Wendy’s. However, it also has a surprising amount of culture. A few weeks ago, I got the chance to see the local Buddhist Temple.

The temple is located at 1705 Filbert Road. If you blink while driving by, you’ll miss it–but once you enter, you are greeted with enough colors, shapes, sounds, smells and statues to overwhelm your senses. I felt like I was time-warped to another country, as I could not stop looking at all the detail around me. The entire temple along with the hiking trail and giant hilltop behind it are covered with all kinds of artwork, from statues of Buddha as tall as a building, to miniature figurines that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Even the parking lot was not spared when the designers decided to decorate this beautiful temple. There are banners outside that show stories of the Buddha and spiritual symbols. As I walked in I was confused. I didn’t know what to photograph first. I stopped for a moment just to take in my surroundings until I finally began moving with my camera and taking photos.

Screenshot (454)The inside of the temple was even more magnificent. The walls are covered in golden mirrors, the ceiling was adorn with lights and tiled artwork. The alter had multiple statues of Buddha. Each statue was hand carved from Taiwan and shipped to this temple. Each one was unique and beautiful in its own way.

Although the statues all seemed so different from one another, they looked like they were made to be together at this temple. There is gold and green and red and white, and so many other colors in between. It really took me several moments to absorb all the sensory input before I could figure out how I was going to try to capture the beauty of this place in my camera.

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I spoke with one of the priests there and learned a little more about where the statues were made and how they were shipped all the way from the other side of the Pacific Ocean. He told me to go outside the back of the temple, as there is much more to view. He said there are more statues of Buddha and a trail that leads up the hill. I decided to go see, thinking that the backyard would be small and quaint compared to this elaborately decorated interior.

Screenshot (455)We ended up exploring the property for another hour and a half. There’s a trail that goes out the back and through some more giant statues of Buddha. The trail leads up a hill and all along the way there are small stories laid out in the form of miniature statues placed all over bonsai trees, rocks and potted plants. There must be thousands of these miniature figurines all over the sides of this trail, each one telling a different story relating to Buddha and his teachings.

As we continued up the trail the statues and stories seemed to get bigger. I could have been at a monastery in Tibet, or a large Buddhist retreat in Thailand. I could not imagine how much work must have gone into creating, selecting, and placing each one of these small statues all around the property. It must have taken hundreds of people and thousands of hours to make up what they had created.

And they are adding more.

Screenshot (457)At the top of the hill there are statues of monks surrounding the biggest statue of Buddha I’ve ever seen. All along the way up there are plaques with written words from the Buddha, words of wisdom and peace. It’s difficult not to be happy in such a place. I am not a religious person, but I certainly felt connected to a higher power here. I felt warmth in the middle of a cloudy, rainy day. I felt like I was covered in a warm blanket and nothing could ever bother me.

All along the trail coming down there are more statues of Buddha in the different interpretations from different countries.

While leaving this temple I felt like I discovered a treasure. I could not believe this amazing place of culture and belief is nestled away in a hilltop in little old Lynnwood.

The temple only opens to the public during special ceremonies, typically from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The next opening will be on July 24 for the Kuan Yin Enlightenment Ceremony. There is no admission fee.

For more photos of the temple, visit the writer’s blog here.

–Story and photos provided by Ashu Shah

Ashu Shah is a travel photographer based out of Lynnwood. He has traveled through Washington State, California, Nevada and parts of Europe, including Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome. Photography is his passion and his full time work. Ashu posts his best work on his blog, www.ashuphoto.com, where he writes about what makes each place he visits special. Although he likes to let his photos do most of the talking, Ashu loves to share the inspiration for his work.

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