The temple was initially built by an Indian monk during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317- 420) but the present temple, occupying an area of 31,000 square meters, dates from the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). The temple has an important place in Buddhist history as Huineng of the Zen Buddhist sect was a novice monk here in the 7th century.
The Sixth Patriarch Hall in the temple was built in memory of Huineng, the sixth master of the Zen Sect of Buddhism, who is widely considered the most influential monk in the history of Chinese Buddhism. In the temple there is also a pagoda where Huineng's hair was buried: Yifa Pagoda (Chinese: 瘞發塔). Other ancient structures in the temple include Sakyamuni Hall, Samgharama Hall, the King of Heaven Hall, and two iron towers.