Shaolin Temple is located under the foot of Wuru Peak of Songshan Mountain (Mount Song) in Dengfeng City, Henan Province. Situated 95km in the west of the capital city of Henan – Zhengzhou and 110km in the east of ancient city Luoyang. It's the birth place for Shaolin martial arts.
With a long history, Shaolin Temple was built in 495 AD in Northern Wei Dynasty. Covering an area of 576,000m2, it was built as the shelter for Buddhabhadra – an eminent monk from India by Xiaowen Emperor of Northern Wei Dynasty. 32 years later, the famous monk from India – Bodhidharma came to Shaolin Temple to pass on Zen Buddhism. After that, the temple enlarged gradually, and Bodhidarma is praised as the first ancestor of Chinese Zen Buddhism.
Today, Shaolin Temple is not only famous for Buddhism culture, but also earns its reputation for the world-famed Shaolin Martial Art. Tourists can watch Kungfu performance in Shaolin Temple or just take some time to learn it in the temple. It's a essential place for Chinese Kungfu fans.
Shaolin Temple is one of the treasure houses of stone carving art in China, especially in the Chuzu'an Hall, there are delicate embossment in the eave column, inner supporting pillar and the surrounding place of the altar. Chuzu'an Hall was built in 1125 AD and it still reserves its original face till today. These embossments were carved when building the hall, well-designed with rough vigor, yet it's delicately beautiful.
Shaolin Kungfu was first created by Bodhidharma to exercise his body when he faced the wall and meditated. After that, in Tang Dynasty, most monks in Shaolin Temple would practice Shaolin Kungfu, and this phenomenon reached to its peak in Ming Dynasty, and the Shaolin Kungfu was spread to the outer world after that. During its 1500 years' history, Shaolin Temple was ruined for several times, however, Shaolin monks managed to pass on the Shaolin Kungfu generations by generations. Tourists can watch the Kungfu Performance in the temple (everyday, in 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00, there is Kungfu Performance, and the performance will last 30 minutes). You can enter the performance hall 20 minutes in advance, so it's better to get ther early to get a good seat.
Besides watching the Kungfu Performance, tourists can also learn Shaolin Kungfu in the temple. There are some Kungfu schools near and in the temple, and if you have enough time, why not give a try to the cool Chinese Kungfu, it will be fun.
The eighth day of April in Chinese lunar year is the Buddha's birthday, and it's one of the most important festivals in Buddhism. On this day, Shaolin abbot and all monks in the temple will praise and chant sutras, then kneel to the Shakyamuni Buddha with holding incense in their hands. After that, shower the Buddha statue with little spoon, and then use little of the same showering water to shower themselves to show thoroughly reform themselves and eliminate the future disaster. Besides the festival, tourists can experience Buddhism culture in various Buddhists halls and architecture in the temple, including Daxiong Hall, Abbot Room, Drum Tower & Bell Tower, Qianfo Hall, Tianwang Hall, Erzu'an Hall, Chuzu'an Hall, Pagoda Forest, etc.
Shaolin Pagoda Forest is the existing largest pagoda forest in China. Covering an area of 21,000m2, it houses about 230 ancient pagodas. Shaolin pagodas are the tombs for monks in the previous generation, and this place enjoys quite a reputation in the Buddhism circle. When an important monk passed away, their cremains or skeleton would be put into the underground palace, and a pagoda will be built on it. The pagoda's height, size and number of layers will be decided according to the monk's Buddhism knowledge, reputation and merits and virtues when during his lifetime. The pagodas here were built in different dynasties, including 2 Tang Dynasty pagodas, 2 Song Dynasty Pagodas, 10 Jin Dynasty pagodas, 46 Yuan Dynasty pagodas, 148 Ming Dynasty pagodas, and the rest pagodas are from Qing Dynasty or unknown ages.
Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort is located in the south of Shaolin Templin, not in the temple, however, it belongs to the whole scenic area of Shaolin Temple. With an area of 35km2, it's 15km from the Dengfeng city center. As a main part of Songshan National Forest Park, it's famed for its unique biological environment and geologic landforms. The forest in Sanhuang Village is nourishing and thick; various geology types can be seen here, including landforms from Archean, Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic, and this place is praised as "Natural Geological Museum."
Tourists can reach Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort by two ways. The north line is take the cable car after visiting the Shaolin Temple at the back of Shaolin Temple. The one-way ticket for the cable car is ¥50, and ¥60 for round-way ticket. The south line is take a taxi from Dengfeng city center to Sanhuang Village, and it will take about ¥40. It's suggested to visit the Sanhuang Village after finishing the Shaolin tour. The ticket for Sanhuang Village is included in the ticket of Shaolin Temple, and if you only visit the Sanhuang Village, then the entrance ticket is ¥30/person.
Shaolin is located 15km southwest of Dengfeng city center. It's very convenient to get to the temple from Dengfeng City, tourists can take public bus or take taxi to there, and it will only take about 15 minutes and ¥30 by taxi from the city center. For foreign tourists, generally, tourists need to get to Dengfeng City or Zhengzhou City or Luoyang City first, then transfer to Shaolin Temple.
By Flight: from Xinzheng Airport in Zhengzhou, take bus from the airport to Zhengzhou Railway Station, and the Zhengzhou Bus Station is sitting just across Railway Station, and there has bus to Shaolin Temple. If you take flight to Luoyang, then transfer to the bus station of Luoyang, and then take bus from there to Shaolin Temple.
By Train: Dengfeng has no railway station, so tourists can take train to Zhengzhou or Luoyang. The bus stations of the two cities are sitting across from the railway stations. Then transfer to Shaolin Temple by bus, and it will take about 1 hour.
Shaolin Temple is a historical site, and it has different scenery in different season, so you can visit it all year round. The most popular season is spring to autumn. The average temperature in spring is about 16℃. During this time, the snow is melting and everything rouses up from sleeping; flowers blossom all over the mountain; this is the great time for relaxing and appreciating flowers. Summer is not too hot with an average temperature of 24℃, great time for travelling. Autumn is cool and it's the best time to see red leaves in Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort. While in winter, the mountain will be covered with white snow, and you can see the sublime snow scenery in here.
1. Avoid Inappropriate Appellation
To call the monks or Taoist priests in the temple, please call them "Shi" or "Fashi", for the abbot of the temple, please call him "Zhanglao", "Fangzhang" or "Chanshi". Do not call them "Chujiaren" directly, which means ascetic in English, or other insulting names.
2. Avoid Etiquette Misconduct
When meeting with the monks, the greeting ritual is putting your palms together devoutly, lower your head slightly, or rise right palm vertical to the left and lower your head slightly. The improper etiquette is handshaking, hug, rub the monk's head, etc.
3. Avoid Improper Speech
When talking with the monks, do not talk about killing, marriage or consuming animal products.
4. Avoid Inappropriate Behavior
When visiting the temple, do not make a racket, criticize or sneer at the others, or meddle with Buddhist statues or rock carvings. If encountering with Buddhist activities, please keep quiet or just walk away quietly.
The ticket for Shaolin Temple is ¥100/person, including the residential temple, Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort, Chuzu'an – Damo Cave, Pagoda Forest and Shaolin Kungfu Performance Show. Shaolin Temple Scenic Area belongs to Mount Song, and there are two other scenic areas in Mount Song, they are Songyang Scenic Area and Zhongyue Scenic Area, and each of them will require ¥80/person for entrance. The joint ticket for Shaolin Temple Scenic Area and Songyang Scenic Area is ¥180/person, while the joint ticket for the three scenic areas is ¥260/person.
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