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Shaolin Temple
   
 

Song Mountain lies in Dengfeng city, in the heart of Henan Province and about 80 kilometers east of its capital, Zhengzhou. Song Mountain, which is also known as Zhong Yue, is known as one of the Five Mountains of China. The others in this group are Tai mountain in Shandong Province, Hua Mountain in Shaanxi Province, Mount Heng in Shanxi Province and Mount Heng in Hunan Province.

Shaolin Temple, in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, is reputed to be 'the Number One Temple under Heaven'. Included on UNESCO's World Cultural & Natural Heritage List in 2010, it is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel. One can see wild flowers and pines on the mountain. With birds singing and a brook spattering, a beautiful scene full of life and vitality is revealed to the visitors.

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 Martial Art Training Center. Visitors may follow the virtual guide to visit the temple.First we see the Shanmen Hall. Hung on its top is a tablet reading 'Shaolin Temple'. The tablet was inscribed by the Emperor Kangxi (1622 - 1723) during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Under the stairs of the hall crouches two stone lions made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The hall enshrines the Maitreya Buddha. Two sides of the corridor behind the hall's gate are paved with inscriptions on stone steles made during several different dynasties.

Followers of Shaolin Martial Art,Then we come to the Mahavira Hall. The complex's center is right before your eyes. Both important celebrations and regular prayers are held here. 18 Buddhist Arhats stand along the eastern and the southern walls of the hall. Buddhas of the Middle, East and West are enshrined in this hall, respectively Sakyamuni Buddha, Pharmacist Buddha and Amitabha Buddha. Figures of Kingnaro (the founder of Shaolin Cudgel) and Dharma (the founder of Chinese Zen Buddhism) stand beside those three Buddhas, a placement which is very different from other Mahavira Halls. At the feet of the pillars in this Mahavira Hall are stone lions that are more than one meter (about 3.33 feet) high. On the ground there are about 50 small pits, 20 centimeters (about 7.87 inches) deep. It is said that they are the footprints left by monks when they practiced Shaolin Martial Arts.

Unexpectedly, we come to the Pagoda Forest, a graveyard for Buddhist dignitaries through the ages. On average, the pagodas are less than 15 meters (about 49 feet) high. The layer and the shape of a pagoda depend on many factors, such as one's Buddhist status, attainment and prestige during his lifetime. The Pagoda Forest here is the largest of China's pagoda complexes.

Burn incense and praynine years of meditation in a cave. It has a big hall supported by 16 stone pillars on whose shafts are exquisitely carved warriors, dancing dragons and phoenixes. The second monastery is a nursing home of the second ancestor Huike who cut his left arm in order to show his sincerity to study Buddhism from Dharma. In front of the monastery are four springs created by Dharma to help Huike to fetch water easily. They are called 'Spring Zhuoxi' and each has its own distinctive flavor.

The cave we see next is the Dharma Cave. 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 and three meters high. 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.


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