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Shaolin Temple

the gate of Shaolin TempleLocates in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, Shaolin Temple is reputed to be 'the Number One Temple under Heaven'. The temple is the birthplace of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel. With wild flowers and pines covering the mountain and birds singing and a brook spattering, a beautiful scene full of life and vitality is spreaded to the visitors.

Shaolin Temple was established in 495 during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). It was built by Emperor Xiaowen who was a believer of Buddhism to house Batuo, an Indian monk, came to Luoyang, the ancient capital, for spreading Buddhism at that period. Baotuo translated many Buddhist works and had a few hundred followers there so Emperor Xiaowen decided to build the temple in the Songshan Mountains.

Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Temple has many legends and mysteries about it. The origin of martial arts, the origin of kung fu surround the vague mysteries of the Shaolin Temple and the shaolin monks.

Shaolin does have a long tradition of Chinese martial arts, as the saying goes 'All martial arts (gongfu) are from Shaolin.' This is partly because Shaolin was located in a strategic area so they had to protect the temple themselves from wars or any invading, and partly because of the support of most emperors from different dynasties, which came after the 13 Shaolin monks once saved Li Shimin, the emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Since then Shaolin was allowed to have solider-monks. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shaolin housed over 1,000 solder-monks at its peak and they were often used by the government to combat rebellions and Japanese bandits. But martial arts were forbidden during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Even with the protection of solder-monks, Shaolin was severely damaged by fire a few times. The largest fire set by the army of Shi Yousan in 1928 destroyed most of the buildings of Shaolin Temple.

There are many noted relics at Shaolin Temple. There are over 300 ancient stone inscriptions, some of them by famous calligraphers. The large mural of 500 arhats in the Qianfo Hall was from the Ming Dynasty. There are 232 pagodas pagoda forest in winter in Shaolin Templefrom different dynasties, known as the forest of pagodas. The oldest one was from the Tang Dynasty. The pagodas are the tombs of the celebrated Shaolin monks. The Shaolin martial arts are an important part of the relics.

The cave we see next is the Dharma Cave in Shaolin Temple. In this cave Dharma patiently faced the wall and meditated for 9 years. Finally, he reached the immortal spiritual state and created the Buddhist Zen. The cave is seven meters deep (about 23 feet) and three meters high (about 9.8 feet). Many stone inscriptions are carved on both its sides. There is a Meditating Stone in the cave. It is said Dharma's shadow was reflected upon the stone and embedded on it because of the long time of his meditation facing the wall. Unfortunately the stone was ruined during the war.

The Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center comes last. Its perfect scenery makes it an ideal place for practicing the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. The system was invented by Dharma who taught the monks basic methods to improve their health and defend themselves. The Martial art performance shows the true Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. For example, Tong Zi Gong, performed by teenagers, is a kind of martial art to train one's flexibility and strength.

 

Shaolin Temple Tour

Shaolin Temple embraces many exciting attractions, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tianwangdian), the Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training Center. Visitors may follow the virtual guide about the Shaolin Temple.

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