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Home China Travel   China Travel Guide   Henan Province   Shaopin Temple


China Travel Guide: Henan Province

Shaolin Temple


Shaolin Temple,  Henan Province

Located in the Songshan Mountains, a little more than 50 miles southwest of Henan's provincial capital, Zhengzhou, Shaolin Temple is famous not only as one of China's important Buddhist shrines, but also as the ancient center of Chinese kung-fu.

shaopin temple, shaolin kungfu

Built in 495, the temple was originally designed to house Batuo, a celebrated Indian monk, who, after many years of spreading Buddhism, was later known as Fo Tuo, or Grand Monk. In 537, another famous Indian monk, Boddhidharma, settled in the temple, and as legend has it, created a sort of primitive bare-hand combat routine called xingyi boxing after he had sat meditating in a cave for nine years. 

That started the kung-fu tradition at the temple. At the beginning of the seventh century, a tiny army of 13 Shaolin monks were reputed to have saved future Tang Dynasty emperor Li Shimin, by defeating an entire division of the ruling Sui Dynasty's army and helping him break out of prison. When he took power, Li showered favors, land and wealth on the temple. Shaolin then thrived as a center of kung-fu masters from around the country. At its heyday, it housed more than 3,000 solider-monks. 

Always a center of rebellion, Shaolin was badly damaged by fire three times, most seriously in 1938, when a blaze raged for more than 40 days, destroying nearly all the temple's classical literature and records. 

The present buildings at Shaolin Temple are spread out over an area of about 10,000 acres. The most interesting relics are the murals in the Eastern Hall, which depict groups of boxing monks. 

Related Information: Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Kung Fu










Shaolin Kung Fu

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