China has one of the world’s oldest cultures, and its vast empire is peppered with Buddhist temples. When you walk through the doors of one of these Chinese temples, you enter a realm where time has no meaning. Since the building was painstakingly created, Buddhism has been practiced where you stand the same way. That’s appropriate because Buddhists believe the time has no beginning or finish in the past or future. Enter China’s zen gardens to immerse yourself in millennia of history.
1: Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery earned its name by being built straight into a cliff 75 metres (246 feet) above the earth. Long stilts are bored right into the cliffside to support magnificent Buddhist prayer buildings. These buildings of worship are connected by narrow bridges and little passageways, but you won’t be able to stay for long. The foundations of the buildings have been weakened by the large number of tourists. The Hanging Monastery will close its doors to visitors in the near future due to safety concerns. In 491, Hengshan was constructed. The fact that it has lasted so long is an architectural marvel. Don’t be concerned if you are blocked. The structure of the temple is quite standard. This temple is known for its breathtaking views of hazardous structures carved into the cliff face. Also, read Best National Parks in Malaysia.
2: Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, China’s most famous temple, is actually an altar rather than a temple. There are no monks, worshippers, or incense in this place. In the center of Beijing, though, you will find breathtaking architecture. All four compass points have entrances to the walled-off garden. Inside, the garden is painstakingly maintained in straight-line portions to avoid natural irregularities. The temple halls tower majestically above the garden. To reflect the traditional concept that heaven is round and the earth is square, the buildings are round with square foundations.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a stunning structure with a triple-eaved purplish-blue umbrella roof erected on a three-tiered marble terrace, is the park’s showpiece. Tourists are also drawn to echo walls, which may be heard whispering from one end to the other. The entire Confucian complex was created for a monarch known as the “Son of Heaven,” who prayed for his people’s good fortune at the altar.
3: Shaolin Temple
The Shaolin Temple is the major worship temple of the Shaolin School of Buddhism, which has been around for almost 1,500 years. Over the ages, the temple and school have been the victim of numerous attacks, the most recent of which occurred in 1928 when the school was set on fire. All of the remaining halls have been refurbished for tourist use. Every day, waves of selfie-obsessed tourists flood the halls of this commercialized temple. Shaolin Temple, famous for its kung fu practise, is a must-see for anyone who practises a martial art. A visit to the Wu Shu training center is a must. A yard full of kung fu beginners will be smashing planks and tumbling for the onlookers. Also read, Banff National Park.
Outside the historic Jokhang Temple in Tibet’s centre, you’ll see Buddhist pilgrims prostrating themselves. They gather to pray at the feet of the centre golden Buddha statue, which is 1,300 years old and is the most respected of all Buddha representations in the world. The temple is administered by the Gelug School, however all Buddhist sects are welcome to worship here. The two-story temple has a visually rich maroon and gold interior with a stunning gold ceiling. Visit early in the morning when the temple is open and pilgrims are enjoying yak butter. Part of the temple is closed up in the afternoons and only seen through grates.
5: Longmen Cave Temples
In Henan province, there are 2,300 caves carved into limestone cliffs that stretch for nearly a mile. Some of the world’s best specimens of Chinese art from the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties may be found in the caves (316-907). You may reach the caves higher up on the cliff side through a series of metal and limestone staircases, where you can see all 110,000 figures, 60 stupas, and 2,800 inscriptions. The Buddhas and statues are carved directly into the limestone that makes up the slope. Each cave is essentially an ornate relief that you may enter and wander around. This carved cliff stands right on the banks of the Yi River and is incredibly well preserved. Also read, Mesa Verde National Park.
6: Big Wild Goose Pagoda
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which stands seven floors tall in southern Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty. It was initially five stories tall and has been rebuilt several times over the years. One of the numerous functions of the structure was to store the sutras, statues, and figures of Buddha that the famed Buddhist explorer Xuanzang brought back from India. While the temple’s interior is now modest, the trip is worthwhile to observe this old structure stand above its modern surrounds. There’s also an open-air mall to the south that’s well worth a visit.
7: Lama Temple
The magnificent Lama Temple in Beijing is smack dab in the heart of the Buddhist firmament. In 1744, Emperor Yong Zheng’s previous palace, the Lama Temple, was turned into a lamasery. Make the Lama Temple your first stop in China if you only have time to see one temple. It is, without a doubt, the most well-known Tibetan Buddhist Temple outside of Tibet. The Lama Temple, located in the centre of one of China’s most populous towns, is home to spectacular frescoes, a Tibetan-style 18-meter (60-foot) Buddha, tantric sculptures, beautiful archways, handcrafted carpentry, and dazzlingly intricate roofing. You may spend days marvelling at the splendour, which is divided into five enormous halls.
8: Lingyin Temple
To enter Lingyin Temple, go through the ceremonial Hall of the Heavenly Kings. For millennia, the Wuling Mountains have been home to Chan Buddhism. The surrounding magnificent mountainous environment is just as appealing as the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat itself. The mountainous Lingyin-Feilai Feng Scenic Area, which is abundant of bridges, monuments, statues, grottoes, artwork, and pavilions, requires admission. The temple is one of China’s largest and most prosperous. The opulent and elaborate grottoes that dot the monastery’s site attest to this. The Grand Hall of the Great Sage, Hall of the Medicine Buddha, Sutra Library, Huayan Hall, and Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats are all located within the huge temple. Also read, Shenandoah National Park.
9: Nanshan Temple
Since the formation of the People’s Republic of China, Nanshan Temple has been the largest Buddhist sacred site in China. It includes a 100-meter (350-foot) tall gleaming white statue created on a rocky promontory in Sanya’s South Sea. This statue serves as the focal point of the entire temple grounds. A wide walkway connects the main entrance plaza to the statue in the water, which is flanked by elegant white spires. A lovely pond on one side of the walkway and a dense grove of trees on the other draw your attention to the three-sided monument.
10: White Horse Temple
According to legend, White Horse Temple was China’s first Buddhist temple. The ancient temple, which was established in 68 AD, is located just beyond the ancient Eastern Han capital’s fortifications. Western tourists will find it simple to navigate because all signs are in Mandarin and English. The main temple has undergone numerous renovations over the years, most notably during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the 1950s, and, most recently, in 1973 following the Cultural Revolution. This lovely temple has numerous hallways that lead to groomed gardens and galleries. The two mythological lions at the entrance, the Jade Buddha, and the world-famous kyamuni and Maitreya Buddhas are among the exquisite statues.