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Shaolin Temples of Dengfeng

 2014-02-25    Ada    Tours    Dengfeng    2778  

Kung Fu is not merely about fighting. It also has a spiritual aspect and a unique culture. That is why it is also known as a martial art, and Shaolin Temple is the best-known birthplace for Chinese Kungfu.

Located in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, Shaolin Temple is reputed to be 'the Number One Temple under Heaven'. Included on UNESCO's World Cultural & Natural Heritage List in 2010, it is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel.

Shrouded by the Song Shan mountain range, Shaolin temple looks as if it’s floating as you approach it. Most Westerners know Shaolin from martial arts movies - Shaolin Kung Fu was born here. But it is more famous in Asia as the birthplace of the Zen Buddhism movement. Visitors come to Shaolin to study Kung Fu, meditate in the ancient surroundings or to enjoy an ancient historical place that is by all means, off the beaten path. The Kung Fu performance is very geared for tourists with flashing lights and an announcer with a microphone.

If you can manage getting there early in the morning, you’ll see students of all ages practicing outside in the grassy fields next to the walkway. The performance of these young boys is incredible. We saw a sculpted teen pierce glass with a needle and another break a metal bar with his arm. The skill and concentration is palpable; the performance is not to be missed.

After the performance, you can take electric cars or walk another fifteen to twenty minutes to the temple itself. Shaolin Temple is set upon the mountainside. You’ll enter at the bottom and make your way up through the multiple halls to the top. The buildings are all in very good condition; money flowing in from the popularity of the temple for tourists as well as student fees have given the temple plenty of money to support renovations.

Two of the highlights are the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas, also called the Training Hall, where you can see depressions in the cobbled floor left from monks training over hundreds of years. The second is the Shadow Stone where you can see Bodhidharma’s shadow burned into the rock from his years of meditation

Another half-kilometer walk through a wooded path will bring you to the Pagoda Forest where there are nearly 250 stone and brick pagodas ranging from the Tang, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (618-1911). If you can escape the vendors walking around with prayer beads for sale, it is really quite lovely to wander through this quiet wooded place. The layer and the shape of a pagoda depend on many factors, such as one's Buddhist status, attainment and prestige during his lifetime. The Pagoda Forest here is the largest of China's pagoda complexes.

One can see wild flowers and pines on the mountain. With birds singing and a brook spattering, a beautiful scene full of life and vitality is revealed to the visitors. In a word, for whatever reason you come, Shaolin Temple is worth a visit.

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