No. 81: Shaolin Temple, Dengfeng, Henan

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on December 16, 2013.)

The interior of the practice hall (万福殿), the rear-most hall at Shaolin Temple (少林寺), in
Dengfeng, Henan (河南, 登封市), has dents in the floor allegedly made by years of Shaolin stomping.
November 3, 2011 - The day after we visited Longmen Grottoes (and the nearby Guanlin, a temple dedicated to the hero Guan Yu), we finally reached one of the most famous temples in China: Shaolin Temple on Songshan.

Many Americans and others heard of this temple years ago in a TV show called "Kung Fu." The main character supposedly started his life at Shaolin Temple and then ended up in the American west in the cowboy days. His martial arts displays were considered wonderful; now that we've seen "the real thing," he looks kind of silly!

It was late November when we visited. Although it was cold, the leaves on the trees were turning colors, adding to the natural beauty of the place.

Although the scenic area is quite large, the temple grounds themselves are not so big. There are many famous halls, including one where the monks have supposedly stomped so hard that they've dented the stone floor.

There's also a nice tea shop, a Chinese medical apothecary, and--of course--demonstrations of Shaolin gong fu.

We wandered out of the main grounds and walked to the Talin or "Pagoda Forest," a beautiful sight that holds the remains of generations of monks. We wanted to hike up to the cave where tradition says the first patriarch of Chan (Zen), Bodhidharma, meditated for nine years. But it was cold, and getting late, so we took a bus back to Luoyang.

We'll visit again. One of my friends (and former students) is a monk there, who teaches both gong fu and the Buddha's teachings. Perhaps we'll go have tea with him sometime.

GPS Info:
  • 34.50650, 112.94204



More pictures can be found here.

The changing color of the trees adds to the beauty at Shaolin Temple on Songshan
This statue displays the body's meridians in front
of the apothecary at Shaolin Temple on Songshan
The "pagoda forest" holds the remains of generations of monks at Shaolin Temple on Songshan

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