As the birthplace of Chinese martial arts and Zen Buddhism, Shaolin Temple has boasted an abundant cultural relics which makes it popular among tourists and Buddhists believers. It’s also the must visit place for people’s Luoyang tour. Nestled on Mount Songshan, Shaolin Temple is not only famous for its age-old and mysterious Buddhist culture across the world, but also renowned for the exquisite Shaolin Kungfu. The Shaolin Kungfu, which is universally acknowledged as the orthodox genre of Chinese martial art, is rightly originated from Shaolin Temple.
The hills on the west of the temple are also worth visiting, where stand the three-story-tall, white-colored statue of Damo, the patriarch who first taught Shaolin monks martial arts and positioned the temple as the birthplace of Zen Buddhism in China.
Damo (Bodhidharma), the legendary Indian monk, came to Shaolin in 517, who was the creator of Chinese Zen. There are many legendary stories about him. One of the well-known stories says he was meditating in a cave for nine years. The cave is now called Damo Cave. Shaolin does have a long tradition of Chinese martial arts, as the saying goes ‘All martial arts (Kungfu) are from Shaolin.’ During the Tang Dynasty,13 Shaolin monks once were saved by Li Shimin, the emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Since then Shaolin was allowed to have solider-monks. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shaolin housed over 1,000 solder-monks at its peak and they were often used by the government to combat rebellions and Japanese bandits. But martial arts were forbidden during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There are many noted relics at Shaolin. There are over 300 ancient stone inscriptions, some of them by famous calligraphers. The large mural of 500 arhats in the Qianfo Hall was from the Ming Dynasty. There are 232 pagodas from different dynasties, known as the forest of pagodas. The oldest one was from the Tang Dynasty. The pagodas are the tombs of the memorized Shaolin monks. The Shaolin martial arts are an important part of the relics. Wangzhi Gou, a small village south of Shaolin Temple, has about 30 hostels and hotels, and the Shaolin Tourism Hotel is one of the most comfortable options.
If you are interested in Chines Buddhism and Chinese Kungfu, Shaolin Temple is absolutely the first choice.