Introduction of Shaolin Temple:
Many domestic and foreign travelers will come from far and wide to the small village nestled away in Henan Province, roughly an hour's drive from Luoyang or Zhengzhou, to visit the fabled birthplace of one of the world's most famous martial arts movements.
But Shaolin Temple is more than that - thousands visit 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 Ba Tuo, 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 affords visitors an opportunity 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 Buddhas and monks roaming the area -are 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 woks that once graced the ground.
The Bodhidharma's Cave:
In AD 527, Bodhidharma 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 together 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 Taizong. As the Sui dynasty disintegrated, Taizong rose up 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:
A must see is the Forest of Pagodas, aptly named for the 246 multitiered 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 obscure what would otherwise be a picturesque panorama.
Zhongyue Temple & Songyang Academy:
Just outside of the Shaolin Temple grounds is the 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 for the purpose of worshipping Song Shan - the mountain is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, with each representing one of the five elements (earth, water, wood, fire, metal) that Taoists believe make up the world; Song Shan represents the earth element. 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 cypress, over 2,100 years old, planted by emperor Wu of Han Dynasty.
When is the best time to visit?
Shaolin Temple is very suitable for sightseeing all year round, although Every Spring and autumn are the best season for tourism. However, in which I have to say that Henan is a typical continental monsoon humid climate with distinct seasons and mild climate, and the annual average temperature is 14.4 to 15 degree Celsius. Among them, the rainy season is in July, August and September.
Where you can see the authentic Shaolin Kungfu?
Nowadays, it is very difficult to see the martial arts training scene of Shaolin monks in Shaolin Temple. However, tourists can go to the Martial Arts Hall to watch the Shaolin Kungfu performance.
The performance time is about 9.30 AM , 10.30 AM , 11.30 AM , 2.00 PM , 3.00 PM , 4.00 PM , 5.00 PM , and each performance will takes about half an hour.
Travel tips of Shaolin Temple:
1.Shaolin Temple one of the well-known scenic spots in China, whether in off-season or in peak season, the passenger flow here will be very high, so tourists are suggested to visit earlier.
2.Travelers have to respect the local customs and beliefs.
3.When visiting the Shaolin Temple, tourists are not allowed to make noise, sarcasm, disturb, touch the objects of temple and take photos in front of Buddha statues.
The admission ticket: 80 RMB/Person
Peak season: 7.30 AM to 6.00 PM ( March to November )
Off season: 8.00 AM to 5.30 PM ( December to February )