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Home Henan Travel Guide Dengfeng Travel Guide Shaolin Temple – The Cradle of Zen Buddhism and Chinese Martial Arts

Shaolin Temple – The Cradle of Zen Buddhism and Chinese Martial Arts

Located at the foot of Mount Songshan in Henan Province, China, the Shaolin Temple is revered as one of the significant Buddhist sanctuaries constructed in 496 CE. It has made a great contribution to Chinese culture and artistry. It is not only the birthplace of Zen Buddhism but also the cradle of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Aside from a wide array of ancient buildings, sculptures, and pagodas, fascinating Kung Fu performances and strict training programs are frequently conducted in the Shaolin Temple in China, attracting numerous tourists from home and abroad.

Being included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Shaolin Temple is an ironic symbol of Chinese civilization and heritage.


China Shaolin Temple Facts

  • Location: about 15 kilometers Northwest of Dengfeng City, Henan Province.
  • Opening time: 7:00 am to 5:00 pm every day in all seasons.
  • Best time to visit: March to
  • Time needed: about 4 hours
  • Suited to: Family with Children and anyone keen on martial arts, Buddhism, history, and culture.
  • Ticket: CNY 80 per person. Children aged six and under, as well as seniors aged 60 and above, enjoy free admission.
Luoyang Shaolin Temple
Shaolin Temple

The Origins of Shaolin Temple

The origin of the Shaolin Temple in China traces back to the 5th century CE during the Northern Wei dynasty. There is a legend about its origin. An Indian monk, Bodhidharma (also known as Damo), traveled to China to teach Buddhism and was thought of highly by Emperor Xiaowen in the Northern Wei Dynasty, an emperor who had a great interest in Buddhism. Bodhidharma preferred a tranquil place, so the Xiaowen Emperor built this temple for him.

Afterward, Bodhidharma started teaching Zen Buddhism to the monks at the temple, which marked the beginning of a revolution in spirits and martial arts. Since then, the Shaolin Temple has taken Buddhism as a part of it and forged its identity gradually.


What to See and Do in Shaolin Temple

1. Explore the Temple Complex

It will be leisurely to walk through the vast temple complex in Shaolin Temple, and you will be astonished by its architectural charm. The architecture in the temple has many styles, including single-eave pagodas, Lama-style pagodas, and pagodas with brick-stone construction. Its various pagodas, together with the fancy halls and serene courtyards, show an imprint on the history and culture of the Shaolin Temple in China.

2. Witness Martial Arts Demonstrations

Don’t miss the inspiring and exciting martial arts performances by the skilled Shaolin Temple monks. There are six demonstrations per day, each lasting for 30 minutes around. You might have watched Jet Lee’s “Shaolin Temple” movie, an action movie that demonstrates Chinese Kung Fu, and now you have the chance to witness it in person in the Shaolin Temple.

The shows demonstrate various Shaolin Kung Fu styles, including Basic Skills, Power Skills, Combat Skills, and others, like what you see in the demonstration by the eighteen arhats of Shaolin Temple. These demonstrations highlight the agility, precision, and sheer mastery of Shaolin Kung Fu techniques,   which are shocking.

3. Visit the Pagoda Forest

The Pagoda Forest in Shaolin Temple is an extraordinary collection of stone pagodas and has collected over 200 pagodas from the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. This site is a graveyard for the departed eminent monks. Pagodas are of different shapes, heights, and arrangements, making them look like a forest, so the place got the name Pagoda Forest.

4. Join a Kung Fu Class

Participating in a Kung Fu class is a good way to experience and understand the essence of the Shaolin Temple. There will be experienced and skilled Kung Fu masters who will guide you to learn the basic martial arts movements. By then, you will be able to obtain an overview of the philosophy behind the Kung Fu of Shaolin Temple in China and the temple itself.

5. Engage in Zen Meditation

Engaging in Zen meditation in such a holy place as the Shaolin Temple will also be unforgettable. Just follow the guidance of the resident monks, immerse yourself in the tranquility of the meditation halls, and experience the profound serenity that Zen practice offers.

6. Discover the Cultural Treasures

There are plenty of cultural treasures to explore in your tours to the Shaolin Temple in China. You can discover cultural and artistic works in different halls and rooms, including the murals in the Thousand Buddha Hall, the ancient scriptures in the Scripture Room, sculptures in the Mahavira Hall, and other artworks. These show the history and development of Buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu.

Furthermore, by discovering the cultural treasures, you will understand the huge influence of the Shaolin Temple on Chinese culture.


Best Time to Visit Shaolin Temple

When planning China Shaolin Temple tours, you need to take the time to visit into consideration. Even though the Shaolin Temple is open throughout the year, you are suggested to visit there during the months between March and October.

From March to October, the climate there is comfortable and the natural surroundings are charming; while from November to February, the temperature drops, and the surroundings turn serene without greenery. Therefore, to gain a better tour experience, you can set your travel time to the period from March to October.

Besides, if you seek to make the best of your trip, you can get up earlier and visit the Shaolin Temple in the morning. With an early arrival, you can bypass the peak crowds and explore the scenic spots with ease.


How to Get to Shaolin Temple

By Flight: Fly to either Luoyang Beijiao Airport or Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport. The former is 65 kilometers from the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, and the latter is 90 kilometers away. Then you can hire a taxi or take a bus to the Shaolin Temple.

By Train: Travel to Luoyang Railway Station or Luoyang Longmen Railway Station as there is no train station at Dengfeng City, where the Shaolin Temple is located. You can also head to Zhengzhou Railway Station alternatively. Once arrive, hire a taxi or take a bus to the Shaolin Temple.

By Bus: If you are in cities like Luoyang, Zhengzhou, and Dengfeng, you can take a bus to the Shaolin Temple, which may take about 2 – 2.5 hours.


Attractions Nearby Shaolin Temple

  • Mount Songshan: It is a historical site encompassing many scenic spots, such as Taishi Towers, Songyang Academy, the majestic Zhongyue Temple surrounded by mountains, and the beautiful Luya Waterfall. It is 14 kilometers from the Shaolin Temple, and you can get there by taxi.
  • Shaolin Zen Music Ritual: It is an impressive live show performed by the monks of Shaolin Temple, and this grand ceremony is a feast of view as it combines Shaolin Kung Fu and Buddhism with Chinese traditional music and dance. The ritual is usually held near the Shaolin Temple and lasts for 65 minutes. You can enjoy it if you have enough time.
  • Fawang Temple: As one of the earliest Chinese temples built after Buddhism spread to China, Fawang Temple is recognized as a Buddhist sanctuary of great historical and spiritual significance. The ancient buildings in Fawang Temple, like the octagonal pagoda and the wooden hall, show the eternal charm of architecture. If you have enough time aside from your tours to the Shaolin Temple in China, take a tour of this place.


FAQs about Shaolin Temple

Q1: Is Shaolin Kung Fu effective?

A: Shaolin Kung Fu is said to be highly effective in self-defense and bodybuilding. Just notice that you should follow a real master of Shaolin Kung Fu to learn real Kung Fu.

Q2: How to Join the Shaolin Temple in China? Can I train at the Shaolin Temple?

A: Apply to the temple by visiting its application form page, filling in the forms, and waiting to be answered. Once your application is accepted, you will have an interview and discuss your goals and expectations by joining or training at the Shaolin Temple. The enrollment fee is 200 dollars. For more details, you may consult the Shaolin Temple Cultural Center.

Q3: How many Shaolin Temples are there?

A: According to the Shaoling Temple Information Collection, there are 10 Shaolin Temples altogether.

Q4: Can I learn Shaolin Kung Fu at home?

A: It depends. Some videos or online classes are teaching Shaolin Kung Fu, and you can try it. If you can strictly follow the guidance or do the movements correctly without hurting your body, you can learn Shaolin Kung Fu at home; otherwise, you should turn to Shaolin Kung Fu masters for help.


Recommended Luoyang Tours including Shaolin Temple

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