Shaolin Temple

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Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple (少林寺), covering an area of 43,000 sq. m, is located at the south foot of Mount Songshan, 13 km northwest of Dengfeng County. It is the ancestral temple of Zen Buddhism and the birthplace of Shaolin kungfu. In the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the temple had over 2,000 monks.

In 1928, the Devaraja Hall, Mahavira Hall, Preaching Hall, Bell Tower and some other major buildings were burned down along with many rare Buddhist scriptures and other documents. What remain now are only the temple gate, the Lixue Pavilion and the Qianfo (Thousand-Buddha) Hall remain.

In the Thousand Buddha Hall, the Vairochana Buddha is honoured, so it is also called Vairochana Hall. Inside there are some depressions on the brick ground, which were left by martial monks when they practiced gongfu exercises. To the east of the White Robe Hall there is a 20-meter-long Shaolin Gongfu Mural, which vividly brings back to life scenes of the Shaolin monks practicing gongfu exercises.

Another feature of Shaolin is a Stupa Forest 300 m to its west. Altogether, there are over 250 stupas serving as tombs for eminent Shaolin monks in history. Representing architectural styles of different eras, they are invaluable for the study of ancient brick architecture and carving art.

The temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List during a meeting of the World Heritage Committee held in Brazil, on August 1, 2010.