EXTRA: Shanhua Temple, Datong, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on January 26, 2015.)

The Vairocana Buddha (毗卢遮那佛) at Shanhua Temple (善化寺), Datong, Shanxi
(山西, 大同市), is the center of the Buddhas of Five Directions (五方佛).

August 24, 2012 - Back in central Datong the next day, there was a lot to see besides Huayan Temple. On my way to Shanhua Temple near the South Gate, I walked past the Ming-Dynasty Drum Tower which stands in a traffic circle in the center of the walled city. (The wall was still being built during my visit, and traces of the old wall could still be seen.) The Drum Tower was closed, though, due to road construction around it.

Passing this, I visited the Nine Dragon Wall, built to screen a prince's palace in 1392. The palace, alas, is long gone, but the wall remains, and at 45.5 meters (150 ft) long and eight meters (26 feet) high, it is advertised as China's oldest and largest screen wall made of glazed tile. It is magnificent.

Photographer's note: Screen walls can be tricky to shoot at mid-day. As most palaces and temples face south, the interesting side of the wall faces north. Best to get there in the diffuse morning or evening light.

Picking my way down broken sidewalks and across bulldozed roads, I reached the newly-built South Gate and turned right to Shanhua Temple.

Though not on my official list, Shanhua is one of the largest groupings of well-preserved ancient buildings in China. The Main Hall, which has survived since the Liao Dynasty (907-1125), contains 33 exquisite statues from the succeeding Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).

After relaxing in the new Western Garden, I walked back to my hotel past a large, beautiful mosque. Packing my bags, I went to the bus station, where I boarded for the four-hour trip to Wutai Mountain.

GPS Info (click link to view map):


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

Datong's Ming-Dynasty Drum Tower sits in a traffic circle.

The Nine Dragon Wall was built to screen a prince's palace.

Another screen wall stands in front of Shanhua Temple's first hall.

The Main Hall at Shanhua dates from the Liao Dynasty.

Statues in the Main Hall date from the Jin Dynasty.

This dragon (龙) is one of the nine (九龙) on an ancient
Screen Wall (九龙壁) in Datong, Shanxi (山西, 大同市).

    ← Previous Article Trip 19 Details Next Article →    

No comments:

Post a Comment