China is the site of one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and its vast empire is peppered with Buddhist temples, which date back thousands of years. As soon as you go through the doorway of one of these temples in China, you are transported to a place where time has no meaning whatsoever. Buddhism has been practiced in the exact spot where you are now since the structure was meticulously constructed hundreds of years ago. And it is appropriate since Buddhists believe that time has no beginning or finish, whether in the past or in the future. Enter the zen gardens of China and you will be transported back in time hundreds of years.
Nanshan Temple is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage destination in China since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It is dominated by a 100-meter-tall (350-foot-tall) shimmering white monument that has been constructed on a rocky ledge in the South Sea of Sanya. The whole temple grounds have been constructed around this figure, which serves as the focal point. Its main entry plaza, which is flanked by magnificent white spires, extends out into the sea with a broad boardwalk, leading to the statue in the water. Beautiful ponds line one side of the path, while a cluster of trees line the other, drawing your attention to the amazing three-sided monument at the center of it all! This temple in South China is named after a famous Buddhist proverb that reads, “Good fortune is as plentiful as the East Sea; longevity is as abundant as Nanshan.”
Longmen Cave Temples
In Henan province, a stunning 2,300 caverns have been cut into limestone cliffs that stretch for over a mile in length. The caverns include some of the world’s most important pieces of Chinese art from the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties, including some of the world’s most important examples of Chinese art ever discovered (316-907). A flight of metal and limestone steps may lead you up to the caverns higher up on the cliff side, where you can view all 110,000 sculptures, 60 stupas, and 2,800 inscriptions that have been left behind. Each of the sculptures and Buddha images is carved directly into the limestone that makes up the mountainside. Essentially, each cave is an elaborate relief that you can enter and wander about inside of literally. This engraved cliff, which has been remarkably well maintained, is located directly on the sides of the Yi River.
You’ll see Buddhist pilgrims prostrating themselves in front of the old Jokhang Temple, which is located in the heart of Tibet, as you proceed. They gather to pray at the feet of the center golden Buddha statue, which is more than 1,300 years old and is the most respected of all Buddha representations in the world. The temple is managed by the Gelug School, however it is open to Buddhists of all various sects who like to come and worship here. The temple’s two-story structure is topped with a stunning gold roof, and its inside is a visual feast of maroon and gold. Visit in the mornings when the temple is easily accessible and pilgrims are enjoying yak butter in the surrounding area. A portion of the temple is closed up and only seen via grates in the late afternoons and early evenings.
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven, the most renowned temple in China, isn’t really a temple at all; it’s more of an altar than anything else. There will be no monks, worshipers, or incense in this place. However, in the center of Beijing, you will discover some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Entry points to the walled-in garden may be found on each of the four compass points. The landscape on the interior is scrupulously maintained in straight-line portions in order to erase the faults of the natural world. The temple halls tower above the garden grounds in a commanding manner. The structures are round, but their foundations are square, in order to symbolize the old concept that the heavens are round and the earth is square, which is reflected in the design.
At the center of the park, under a triple-eaved purplish-blue umbrella canopy, is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a stunning edifice with a three-tiered marble terrace that serves as the park’s focal point. Tourists are also drawn to echo walls, which are walls where a whisper can be heard from one end of the building to the other. In honor of an emperor known as the “Son of Heaven,” who utilized the altar to pray for the well-being of his people, the complete Confucian building was constructed for him.
To enter Lingyin Temple, you must first pass through the stately Hall of the Heavenly Kings. The Wuling Mountains have been the spiritual birthplace of Chan Buddhism for hundreds of years. Even more appealing than the Temple of the Soul’s Retreat itself is the picturesque hilly landscape around the temple complex. There is an entry fee for the hilly Lingyin-Feilai Feng Scenic Area, which is home to several bridges, monuments, sculptures, grottoes, artwork and pavilions, among other attractions. The temple is one of the biggest and most prosperous in all of China. The magnificent and elaborate grottoes that dot the monastery’s property serve as a testament to its wealth. The Grand Hall of the Great Sage, the Hall of the Medicine Buddha, the Sutra Library, the Huayan Hall, and the Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats are all located inside the huge temple.
The Shaolin Temple is the primary worship temple of the 1,500-year-old Shaolin School of Buddhism, which is located in the city of Shaolin. Over the ages, the temple and school have been the victim of several assaults, the most recent of which occurred in 1928 when the school was set on fire. All of the remaining halls have been renovated to make them more appealing to tourists. The corridors of this commercialized shrine are always thronged by people looking for a good selfie. Shaolin Temple, famed for its practice of kung fu, is a must-see location for everyone involved in a martial arts training program. Visiting the Wu Shu training facility is a unique and unforgettable experience. You’ll be treated to a yard full of kung fu newcomers who will be smashing boards and falling in front of the masses for your entertainment.