Sometimes the most beautiful places are on your doorstep and you don't even know it. I pass by Nan Lian Garden almost every single day when I'm in Hong Kong, yet I've never stepped foot inside.
Turns out, it's a real gem of a place, located in Diamond Hill, close by the MTR station.
I've been seeing more and more tourists clutching their guide books around this area, and wondered how on earth they managed to get so lost that they've ended up here! I had no idea that this was a top spot to see around and about Hong Kong.
There's two parts to the gardens, Nan Lian Garden 南蓮園池 on one side of the road, and Chi Lin Nunnery 志蓮淨苑 on the other side, accessible by a footbridge.
The main entrance brings you into the gardens first, and the scenery is absolutely wowing. It's like stepping into a different place, out of Hong Kong's hustle and bustle altogether!
The gardens are modelled after those of the Tang Dynasty era. There are lots of trees, bushes and shrubs that are meticulously trimmed and groomed, fish ponds and waterfall displays.
Though not all the paths are open to public all the time, you can walk through most of Nan Lian Garden and appreciate its beauty.
The architecture is also worth a mention. Although there are only a few main buildings, every piece of infrastructure in Nan Lian Garden has been built without using nails or glue or other 'adhesive'-type things.
One of the buildings showcases an exhibition of miniature versions of buildings built in this style. The design of the buildings allows everything to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, so when assembled, no extra nails or glue is necessary to keep it secure!
The place is calm and peaceful, and looks spectacular on sunny days, like when we went. However, the heat can be overwhelming! There's a cafe inside the gardens, so refreshments are available (and probably necessary!)
Chi Lin Nunnery across the footbridge has less greenery, and less of it is open to the public. There's the lily pond in the courtyard and the building is open and surrounds it.
The place lacks the extravagance of more famous Chinese architecture, as it is a newly built site, and also not one of royalty, but it still has elegance in its simplicity, and there are delicate details if you care to take note.
Within the nunnery, there are places of religious worship: different temple areas are dedicated to different Buddhist divinities.
Even if you have no religious beliefs though, the gold, clay and wooden statues are still worth admiring!
It's an amazing find for me, and I can't believe I've passed by without a second thought all these years! Definitely worth the visit, despite its slightly out of the way location (but still easily accessed by MTR).
Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden // 志蓮淨苑、南蓮園池
5 minutes from Diamond Hill MTR Exit C2 // 港鐵鑽石山站C2出口
Great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, visit Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery for a relaxing and soothing time amongst beautiful, natural greenery.