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Shanhua Temple

Daxiong palace in Shanhua TempleLocated in Datong, the Buddhist temple, Shanhua Temple was first founded during the early 8th century of the Tang Dynasty, but its earliest surviving building can date back to the 11th century. The temple was heavily repaired over the years, and until today three original halls and two recently rebuilt pavilions survive. The largest, and earliest hall, dating from the 11th-century Liao Dynasty, is the Daxiongbao Hall. Also historically significant are the Main Gate and Sansheng Hall, both dating from 12th century during the Jin Dynasty.

Datong Shanhua Temple (Shanhua si) is also called the South Temple (Nan si) because it lies in the southern section (Nan mian) of town, just within the confines of the old city walls. The temple is worthwhile visiting, not only for part for its interesting history and architecture, but also because of the peacefulness of the grounds around, only occasionally upset by crowds.

History of Shanhua Temple

The 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. After the fall of the Tang Dynasty during the Five Dynasties period (906-960), the temple was changed its name to Da Pu'ensi. During this chaotic time, out of ten buildings at the temple, only three or four escaped destruction. After the takeover by the Liao Dynasty in 960, the temple assumed its present configuration.

Shanhua Temple was again heavily damaged when the Jin Dynasty took over in 1120, and in 1128 repair work was started that took fifteen years to complete. In 1421, more repairs were undertaken, this time by a monk named Dayong. In 1445, he received an imperial presentation of sutras. This is also the first time that the temple was referred to by its present name, Shanhua Temple. In the late 16th century, drum and bell towers were built on the same stone platform supporting the Daxiongbao Hall. Further repairs were made to the temple over the next two hundred years but by the late 18th century the temple was once again in a state of disrepair, and the use of one of the halls as a camel stable had caused a wall to collapse. During WWII, the Puxian pavilion was destroyed, and was rebuilt in 1953.the buddha in shanhua Temple

The best of the buildings in Shanhua Temple is probably the Grand Hall (Daxiong baodian), housing 5 Buddhas and 24 divine generals, which stand on a terrace at the far back of the temple. There is also an interesting Dragon Screen (Longbi) in the temple, although it is no match for the larger Nine Dragon Screen in town. There also still remain a few relics from the temple's early dynasties, including around 30 Liao and Jin statues, and one hall still in strict Tang style.


Shanhua Temple Tour

Today, Shanhua Temple is a good manifestation of the traditional Chinese architectural philosophy, with most of the buildings located in careful symmetry and all the main constructions standing along a north-south axis. During the tour to Datong, just pay a visit to this attraction.

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