Shaolin Temple – Part 1

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Map of the Shaolin Temple Scenic Area

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Entry gates to Shaolin Temple Scenic Area

This is the first of a three part series to share all aspects of our visit to this remarkable place—Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Kung Fu and the Pagoda’s and surrounding natural area.The natural beauty of area surrounding the Shaolin Temple is amazing. Known as  Scenic Area Shaolin Temple, it literally means “temple in the woods of Shaoshi Montain. It was built in 495 AD to house the Indian monk Batuo.

Today the Shaolin Temple—one of the four holy Buddhist temples of China, is recognised as the birthplace of both Chan Buddhism as well as Chinese Kung Fu. The temple is located near Denfeng City, Hennan Province at the foot of Mount Songshan. In 2010, it was included on UNESCO’S World Cultural and Heritage List.

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The Shaolin Temple

The temple itself, to my surprise looks small from the front—although I don’t know what I was expecting. After stepping over the threshold—a brick strip in the doorway blocking evil spirits from entering—I was humbled to be in such a significant ancient building.

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Monk guarding one of the entrances with threshold visible

On entry to the temple we experience the Hall of Heavenly Kings and are greeted firstly by two Buddhist warrior attendants.

 

 

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One of two Buddhist warriors

 

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Two of the Four Heavenly Kings

Inside the hall are the figures of the Four Heavenly Kings whose job is to inspect people’s behaviour, help the troubled and bless the people that visit.

As we move through the hall opens out into a large courtyard which is the centre of prayers, activity and celebrations. There are many pits in the ground that are said to be eroded and left by the monks over the years as they practiced Shaolin Martial Arts.

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One of 18 Buddist Arhats in the Shaolin Temple

We walked around the temple and took in the ombience.

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1500 year old tree

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An example of the ornate roof decorations used throughout the temple

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On leaving the Shaolin Temple, we found the renovated original well that is still able to supply clean, sweet water. It was built for the exclusive use of the monks and then later its use extended to the broader community.Shaolin Temple 2-9-13 178Visiting the Shaolin Temple was a special experience. Despite its commercialism today, you can still get away and understand the lifestyle of the monks over centuries in this beautiful part of the world.

 

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