Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hanging monastery of Datong, China

I just realized that, this whole year  I have been visiting monasteries after monasteries. My husband says, I can right a good about Buddhist monasteries if I spend some on that. Latest to my bucket is Hanging monastery of  Datong. Early this year I was surprised to see Tiger’s nest monastery in Bhutan which is perched on top of the cliff.

Hanging monastery.It blends so well with the cliff
Now, the hanging monastery of Datong  has made me spellbound by the engineering technique they have used to build a monastery right at the cliff of the mountain  above the ground level. This ancient engineering marvel built in 5th century is   1600 years old.

Monastery from the base
Hanging monastery is 60 kms away from Datong in Shanxi province of China. It is located on a canyon, 75 mts above the foot level of Mountain Heng. This temple is very unique as it is dedicated for 3 religions – Buddhism, Taosim and Confucianism. We will see many statues representing all the three religions.I didn't capture the picture with three of them as I didn't recognize others next to Buddha in the picture below On one side of Buddha, we can see Laozi of Taoist teacher and on the other side is Master Kong Zi of Confucius.I strongly suggest to get a guide from Datong to appreciate it better which I didn't do.
Buddha in the centre . Other bronze color statues next to him representing Taoism and Confucianism. I have cropped them while taking picture

Statues in the monastery

If not for its colourful roof, it blends so well with the cliff that you need to stare at it for few seconds to identify the structure. We need to climb up a  few stairs to reach the monastery.
Landscape at the foothill of the mountain

Frozen stream
The stream at the foothill of the mountain was mostly frozen and water falls and small water streams around the lake were all frozen to snow. There is an entry ticket for  30+100 =130 RMB  which I felt was very high. I don’t know why is that break up. Couldn’t figure it out.

Entry to the monastery
Monastery has many small corridors and steep steps, which will take us to all the 3 storeys. There are many rooms. I didn’t count though. All are very small in size but comfortable enough for worship.
Though there were signs showing ‘ photography is not allowed’ there was no one to stop you from taking pictures.
Steep stairs and rickety wooden poles

Hanging Monastery
 Anyone visiting the monastery would wonder what technology was used to build this ancient structure at such a dangerous location. What I understand is wooden crossbeams were half inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back supports. We don’t see any main supportive structures only body of the structure is seen from outside. The rickety wooden poles are good enough to make you think twice before you decide to take stairs.I was told these wooden supporting poles are provided as a secured feeling to the visitors than actual support.
 By the way, whole temple is built with only wood. Incredible indigenous technology.

Travel tips
It takes 1.5  hours to reach Hanging monastery. I hired a taxi and paid 360 RMB for covering both  hanging temple and Yungang Grottoes.
 What are your favourite monasteries  ? Pls share