China # 18 – Hunyan Hanging Monastery – September 2018

September 2, 2018

After a wonderful quiet night in our “private” parking lot, we walked up to the entrance of the Hunyan Hanging Monastery. We had seen many religious sites as we traveled across Europe and Central Asia, but never one hanging from a cliff. It was amazing to see Hunyan hanging 246 ft, (75-metre), above the ground. The temple is famous not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing site with the combination of all three Chinese traditional religions: Buddhism, Taosim and Confucianism. Spindly oak poles and crossbeams chiseled into the vertical cliff hold it up. Additional supportive structures are buried inside the bed rock. Back in 2010 Time magazine listed it as one of the ten most dangerous buildings in the world.

Buddhism, Taosim and Confucianism

Three traditional Chinese Religions under one Roof

 

With all the flat land in China, one must wonder why someone would build a temple on the sheer side of a mountain.

With all the flat land in China, one must wonder why someone would build a temple on the sheer side of a mountain.

According to legend, one man, a monk named Liaoran, started the project back around 471 AD. We can only imagine what his vision was. The overhanging summit offered some protection from rain erosion and sunlight, and thanks to the ongoing repair by many of the various following dynasties, colors of the statues and the walls in the temples are relatively well preserved.

There are 40 halls and pavilions, linked by wooden walkways and stairs. To our relief, the stairs were well reinforced with metal plates and for those suffering acrophobia, there were handrails.

Looking for more Buddhas, (not really), our next stop was a short hop on a toll road to the equally impressive Yungang Grottoes. Circling the city of Datong, (population over 3.5 million), the blocks of high-rise apartments and coal power generating plants told us we were getting closer to civilization than we like.

 

 

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