Shaolin Temple, Dengfeng, Henan
(November 3, 2011)

(1) They say that Bodhidharma, first patriarch of Chan, sat in a cave on the mountain above Shaolin Temple and meditated for nine years. We wanted to see it, but it was a 4km hike up the mountain! So the closest we got was to see him on top of this (and some other) telephone booths.

We had finally hit the big time: Shaolin Temple, home of Chan (Zen) and Kung Fu (or so they say). Frankly, I wasn't so impressed, except for the collection of pagodas. Hence an earlier post to FB: "Shaolin Shmaolin." Only 17rmb each for the hour and 40 minute bus ride; but 100 to get in! And we spent more on the shuttle bus inside (10 each way) than on the bus ride up. Anyway...

(2) The first thing we saw when we got off the shuttle in this Buddhist paradise was-- eggs and hot dogs for sale!

(3) Bill Porter says he figured about 6,000 people per day visit here on average. (Since the temple gets 10% of the "gate," he figured about $3,000,000 US in income back then in 2006.) Anyway, we were there in "off-season" but there were still plenty of people. I think I would have hated it in summer!

(4) One of the things I liked the best was the fall color, especially the gingko trees near the front gate. Here are several shots. Over a stele...

(5) front of a tower...

(6) ...through a gate...

(7) ...and in front of a hall.

(8) It's not uncommon to see the four kings stomping down on figures, usually demonic...

(9) ...but it is unusual to see them stomping normal human beings!

(10) Lila pets a turtle. (A very big turtle.)

(11) Lila Kaczynski? (It was cold, yo.)

(12) The gift shop was made in a former corridor; the roof is still intact.

(13) The top hall houses my favorite, Vairocana. This one seems quite old, and the setting is exquisite.

(14) The floor of that same hall is supposedly dented due to the stomping of kung fu feet. I doubt it; the holes are a couple of feet across, indicating plain old sinkage. Hard to see here, except maybe for a ripple in the floor; and a good deal of this "treasure" is covered in pigeon droppings.

(15) I had read that there was a stone on which Bodhidharma's shadow was imprinted from all those years of sitting. Originally in the cave up on the mountain, it had been cut out of the wall and brought down, probably for easier viewing. Missing it on the first pass, I checked my notes and found where it was located. Unfortunately we couldn't enter the hall, so I had to take this long shot. We'll never know if it's "real" or not! (But come on, really?)

(16) Next to the main compound is an apothecary; in front of that hall is this figure, presumably indicating meridians and whatnot.

(17) Up near the pagoda enclosure we spotted this monk hauling vegetables.

(18) This is the newest pagoda in the "Ta Lin," Pagoda Forest. Around its base are engraved planes, trains, automobiles, a laptop, and a video camera.

(19) The Ta Lin holds 228 pagodas dating back to 791 CE. Here are some of them.

(20) Do not adjust your set: this one is rotund!

(21) This looks more like a mail box; the top is gone.

(22) And this one looks sort of like a dog house. It's the "common pagoda" (1121) for common monks, and also (the sign says) for all monks in the Song Dynasty, when no new pagodas were permitted to be built.

(23) This is the oldest pagoda in the place, and I did my devotions in front of it. It was built in 791 for a master named Fawan.

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We stayed in Friday, and Saturday is travel day, so this will be the last shot for this trip. I may be doing some weekend trips in December and January, but the next real traveling will be in February over the Chinese New Year holiday. Join me!

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Last Updated August 9, 2019

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