Hanging Monastery Temple China

15/11/2011 21:55

Hanging Monastery or Temple is an architectural wonder. It was built on a cliff near Mount Heng in the province of Shanxi. The city is adjacent to Datong, 65 kilometers northwest. It is located at the foot of Heng Shan (Heng Mountain), 50 meters above the ground.

The monks who built this temple had three basic reasons, the first build a house of worship to show their determination. The second reason is to avoid the terrible flood, besides the top of the mountain protects the temple of rain, snow and also decreases the damage from long time sunshine, and the third is to promote unity among the Chinese people through a combination of the three major religions: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

An architectural complex was built on the base of the natural hollows and outcrops along the contour of the cliff. Over 40 halls, cabinets and pavilions within an area of 152.5 square meters are connected each other by corridors, bridges, boardwalks. They are evenly distributed and well balanced in height.

Inside the monastery, the sculptures of Sakyamuni, Confucius and Laotzu appear together, which is unusual. The halls contain about 80 sculptures some are cast with bronze, some with iron, some with clay and some are carved out of stone, some are made of copper and terracotta. The features are vividly carved.

The Hanging Monastery can easily be reached on foot. Another increasingly popular activity (not for the claustrophobic) is to head underground to view an operating Chinese coal mine first hand.


Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Monastery is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. The Hanging Monastery is a great place to start a day journey around the Heng Shan, a mountain endowed with a wealth of temples, historic sites and natural beauty.

In 386 the Turkic Tuoba people took advantage of troubled times in China to establish their own dynasty, the northern Wei, and subsequently took Datong as their capital. Although this was a very turbulent period in Chinese history, the Wei became devout Buddhists, and some important cultural sites were constructed during their relatively short rule. Hanging Monastery was built in 491 and has survived more than 1400 years.

Hanging Temple, Datong
Hanging Temple, Datong

A second period of greatness came with the arrival of the Mongol Liao Dynasty, also Buddhists, who made Datong their capital in 907. Incorporated into the Jin in 1125, the Liao left a small legacy of statues and some fine temple architecture, notably the central Huayan temple (Huayan Si) and a wooden pagoda (Yingxian Mu Ta), the oldest in China, in the nearby town of Yingxian. Datong remained important to later Chinese dynasties for its strategic position just inside the Great Wall, south of Inner Mongolia, and the tall city walls date from the early Ming Dynasty.

The extant monastery was largely rebuilt and restored under successive dynasties in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The temples remain a feat of engineering. That wonder of Buddhist engineering that not only defies the laws of gravity also of the religion. Instead of a special devotion to a single religion, the Hanging Monastery distinguishes itself from other temples by including reverence to Taoism, Confucianism, as well as Buddhism.

A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. Crossbeams were half inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back became its support. Hanging Monastery appears to be falling, as is a floating monastery.

Construction experts from countries including Britain, Germany, and Italy, come to see the monastery. In their words, Hanging Monastery, which mixes mechanics, aesthetics, and Buddhism, is rare. The monastery and everything it symbolizes embodies a great cultural achievement of Chinese people. Today, the Hanging Monastery attracts more and more visitors all over the world who going to admire this temple.

( Source : www.7wonders.org/wonders/asia/china/datong/hanging-temple.aspx )