Most people generally recommend Shanhua Temple as the first travel stop in Datong, because it is the largest main gate in ancient time, with three Dianding verandas (hip roofs).
Shanhua Temple was first founded during the Kaiyuan period of the Tang Dynasty (713-741) under the patronage of emperor Xuanzong, at which time it was known as the Kaiyuan Temple. In 1445, it was rebuilt and was renamed as Shanhua Temple.
The Shanhua Temple consists of three main halls (The Daxiongbao Hall, the Sansheng Hall and the Main Gate) arranged on a north-south axis and two pavilions located to the east and west of the Sansheng Hall. There are also two smaller halls on each side of the Daxiongbao Hall.
The Main Gate is a large hall that was built during the Jin dynasty in the 12th century, and is the entrance building of the temple. The hall contains statues of the four heavenly kings, with two on the east side, and two on the west side. It is five bays long, and two bays wide.
The first thing you see after into the main gate is the Sansheng Hall, which was also built in the Jin Dynasty. The hall got its name for the statues of the three sages of the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Puxian Pavilion was initially built during the Liao Dynasty.
The Daxiongbao Hall is the northernmost and largest hall, and dates from the 11th century. It is the platform in the hall, with the Ming Bell and Drum Tower on both left and right side, seven bays wide, and five bays long. There are thirty-four statues existing in the temple and painted murals in the hall.
Walk into the Daxiongbao Hall, great momentum.
The thirty-four statues in the hall
From the main gate, Sansheng Hall to Daxiongbao Hall are all the Dianding verandas (hip roofs).