Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
36Trip End Jul 20, 2008
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Next I visited the Longmen Grottos. Here I viewed hundreds of thousands of Buddhas carved into stone walls.
The grottoes were started around the year 493 when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) moved the capital to Luoyang and were continuously built during the 400 years until the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The scenery measures 1,000 metres (about 1,094 yards) from north to south where there are over 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas, 1,300 caves and 100,000 statues. Most of them are the works of the Northern Wei Dynasty and the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Lots of historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture are kept in Longmen Grottoes.
Next we drove an hour to the Shaolin Temple. Although the temple had been restored this was the site of the discovery and beginning of kunfu. I was surprised at how many tourists were here! My guide sent me along to walk around the school grounds. As I walked in the grounds I quickly noticed that there were NO other tourists here. Only me and over a thousand students going about their daily life on this campus.
Next I walked to the Shaolin Temple. Here I viewed many temples, saw many monks, and numerous Budha statues. From there I walked to the Stupa Forest which is where there are hundreds of small pagodas representing where monks' ashes have been buried.
The Shaolin Temple was built in 495 A.D. The Indian Monk Boddhidharma arrived in 527 and initiated the Chan (Zen) sect of Buddhism. Shaolin hence became the birthplace of the Chan Sect. At the beginning of the seventh century, 13 martial arts monks were rewarded by Tang Dynasty Emperor Li Shimin after they had saved him from danger . The Temple was then given the title: "the Number One Temple Under Heaven." Shaolin kung fu thus developed rapidly and its fame spread. The 30,000-square-meter temple is composed of seven rows of buildings, including the Hall of Heavenly King, the Dharma Pavilion, the Thousand-Buddha Hall, the White-Robe Bodhhisattva Hall, and the Hall of Ksitigarbba (Guardian of the Earth).
About 300 meters west of Shaolin Monastery is the Forest of Stupas, the largest group of stupas in China, serving as the tombs for Shaolin monks after they die. The existent over 220 stupas of brick and stone were built in the dynasties of Tang, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing. The stupas, usually of 3-5 stories, are no more than 15 meters high, and vary in shapes of quadrangle, sexangle, cylinder, cone, parabola, straight line, bottle, circle; some are made of one piece of rock. On most of the stupas there are bas-reliefs and inscriptions. The stupa forest is representative of the artifacts of the successive dynasties and a treasure house of ancient architecture and sculpture of China.