If you are really interested or fan of Chinese Kung fu, Shaolin Temple might be a good choice. Located at the western foot of Songshan Mountain, 13 kilometers northwest of Dengfeng City near Zhengzhou, it was established in 495 and has been recognized as the origin of Chan Buddhism and the cradle of Kung fu. Shaolin Temple is the historical place where thousands of Buddhist followers visits every year to pray and pay their respects at one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China. However, it is said that the temple was founded in AD 495 by Indian monk Battue, on land given to him by the Northern Wei emperor, therefore monks could focus on the disciplines of their faith.
What to visit in Shaolin Temple:
The architectural complex of Shaolin Temple is mainly composed of three parts, the Forest of Pagodas, Chuzu'an and Bodhidharma's Cave and so on. Most visitors will choose this travel route.
The village at Shaolin is fully caught up in kung fu, stopping in the village around the temple allows visitors to see youngsters training at the various schools nearby. Children of all ages can be seen spinning in mid-air, high-kicking lunging with spears and sparring, with the sounds of hundreds of young voices barking in unison.
Strolling through the temple's main gate you can see the characters for Shaolin Temple written in calligraphy by the Qing emperor Kangxi. Among the highlights apart from the main temple and its inherent shrines, hosts of contemplating Buddha’s and monks roaming the area of the pavilions on the grounds. A giant wok is also visible. It's said that it could cook 1,650 pounds (750 kg) of rice-and it's considered one of the smaller works that once graced the ground.
The Bodhidharma's Cave:
In AD 527, Bodhidharma's visited and founded what became the Chan (Zen in Japanese) sect. According to popular lore. Bodhidharma crossed the Yellow River on a single reed, and then he spent nine years meditating in a cave before entering the temple grounds. As the story goes, his shadow can still be seen in a nearby cave to this day aptly named Bodhidharma's Cave.
The Bell Tower:
In front of the Bell Tower is a stele with three faces carved on one side. The faces of Buddha, Laozi and Confucius are grouped to represent the harmonious unity of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism Nearby another memorial stele provides a list of rewards given to the monks of Shaolin by the future Tang emperor Taizhong. As the Sui dynasty disintegrated, Taizhong rose in rebellion. When he was cornered by a local warlord, 13 monks from the temple aided him in his escape. When he later ascended to the throne, he threw a huge banquet for the monks, with the finest dishes and wines available, to show his gratitude. To his chagrin the monks refused to eat due to their strict vegetarian diet - as emperors were likely to do, he simply issued a decree allowing the monks of Shaolin to drink alcohol and eat meat, though the monks today follow a vegetarian diet.
The Forest of Pagodas:
We recommend for the tourists must see the Forest of Pagodas, aptly named for the 246 multitier monuments to noted monks from years gone by. Many bear Inscriptions detailing the lives and exploits of the monks for whom the pagodas were built. Each pagoda houses the ashes of a monk interred on the site from AD 791 to 1803. The pagodas take up a significant plot of land at the foot of breathtaking mountain scenery, although the views can be blanketed in a haze that obscures what would otherwise be a picturesque panorama.
Zhongyue Temple & Songyang Academy:
Just outside of the Shaolin Temple grounds, there is a small town of Dengfeng which offers some good opportunities to get away from the crowds at the Shaolin Temple. Check out the Zhongyue Temple, a Taoist temple which was originally built to worship Song Shan. This mountain is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, with each representing one of the five elements (earth, water, wood, and fire, metal) that Taoists believe make up the world. Song Shan represents the earth elements. Zhong Yue became a Taoist Temple during the Northern Wei period and was rebuilt during the Qing dynasty using Beijing's Forbidden City as a model. Just north of town is the Songyang Academy one of China's four "great academies.” Inside the academy grounds are two very old cypresses, over 2,100 years old, planted by emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty.
What is the Best Time to Visit?
Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit the Shaolin Temple and Luoyang. Summers can be very hot and winters bitingly cold. The Luoyang Peony Festival starts from April 10 to 25, is the best time to see the blooming peonies. There may be some interesting activities during the festival.
Shaolin Kungfu Performance?
For a great Kung fu fighting extravaganza checks out the International Shaolin Martial Arts Festival that is held in Zhengzhou every two years from September 1 to 5.
Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
||8:00 - 17:30; ticket selling starts 30mins earlier.|
|Entrance Fee||CNY 80|
How to get to Shaolin Temple
From Zhengzhou: Take a bus from Zhengzhou Central Bus Station to Shaolin Temple directly. The bus departs at 7:00, 8:00, 8:50, 9:40, 10:10, and 11:00. The departure interval: about half an hour, the whole journey is 2 hours.
From Luoyang: Take a bus from Luoyang Bus Station from 5:30 to 12:30, or from Jinyuan Bus Station at 5:15 or 8:00. The bus fare is around CNY 20 and it takes 1-2h.
Take a bus from Luoyang bus station or Jinyuan bus station to Dengfeng.