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Shaolin Temple Yunnan merges with Chengdu
The six characters, “Lingkai Temple in Paotai Mountain”, on the screen wall of the temple gate are written by Shi Yongxin, the Venerable abbot of Shaolin Temple in Songshan, Henan.
From the start of the year 2023, Shaolin Temple Yunnan is merging with Shaolin Temple Chengdu, Sichuan Province, just 1-hour drive from the centre of Chengdu city. Chengdu is most famous for being the home of China’s magnificent giant pandas. Chengdu is considered the best and most fantastic place to live in China. Jintang is about 50 km away from Chengdu, 20 km away from Qingbai River, 25 km away from Guanghan, and 44 km away from Longquanyi.
Sichuan is the second-largest Chinese province. It is famous for the giant pandas and occupies most of the Sichuan basin and the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau between the Jinsha river (west), the Daba mountains (north) and the Yungui plateau (south). Sichuan province translates as “four rivers”: Jialing, Jinsha, Min and Tuo, which run through the region.
UNESCO World Heritage sites include:
- The giant panda reserves;
- The Dujiangyan irrigation system;
- The Emei mountains (one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism) and Leshan Giant Buddha (World Heritage site in 2007);
- The Jiuzhai river valley (World Heritage designation in 1992).
Chengdu is the province’s capital and is located near the centre of the province. Its mild and humid climate, fertile soil, and abundant mineral and forestry resources make it one of China’s most prosperous and economically self-sufficient regions. The area has been seen as a microcosm, a country within a country called “Heaven on Earth.” Chengdu has always played a vital role in Sichuan’s cultural and intellectual life. The city is a haven for intellectuals and scholars and is sometimes called the “Little Paris” of China.
Sichuan is renowned for its hot, spicy cuisine, which features the liberal use of hot chilli peppers. Garlic and ginger are also common in both vegetable and meat dishes. Peanuts are another common ingredient in kung pao (gong bao) chicken, a trendy dish worldwide.
Students in training are encouraged to explore these local wonders during their free time; such interactions can only enrich their stay at the Temple and in China as a whole.
Today we introduce to you the ancient Nianhua Temple, known since the Qing Dynasty as Lingkai Temple (1896), located on the top of Paotai mountain. It was first built in the Southern Song Dynasty. It has a history of thousands of years. Although the ancient Nianhua Temple is a famous ancient temple in western Sichuan, it was destroyed by wars many times. The historic sites are buildings reconstructed from the Qing and Song Dynasties. Originally, there were 8 Buddha halls, including Jialan, Maitreya, Songzi Guanyin, Big Buddha, Patriarch, and 1 scripture collection building. In the 25th year of the Republic of China (1936), the enlightened monk (mummy “Patriarch in the Body”) of the temple passed away, and his body was not transformed, and he was enshrined in the scripture library.
The building had three axes, built along the mountain, from west to east. On the central axis is the Tianwang Hall, followed by the Shanmen, the Guanyin Hall, and the Daxiong Hall. The Bell Tower, Pharmacist Hall, Wuguan Hall, Inner Living Hall, and Kitchen are on the right axis. Drum Tower, Dabei Pavilion and West Guest Hall are on the left axis. Guanyin Hall was built in the first year of the Republic of China. It is a stone and wood structure with a suspended mountain roof. There is an inscription, “the first year of Hong Xian,” on the back wall. The Daxiong Palace was built in the 22nd year of Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty (1896). The hall is 7 rooms wide and 7.4 meters high, the base of the plain surface is 0.8 meters high, and there are 5 levels of vertical belt steps. Dabei Pavilion is the original west wing of Huaiguanyin hall in the main hall, with a stone and wood structure, hanging mountain roof, 3 rooms wide and 6 meters high.
The rest of the halls in the temple have been restored. The gate is majestic and colourful, and the layout of the galleries is neat. Most of the pillars have couplets and inscriptions by famous artists. The whole mountain temple is quiet and elegant. In the temple, there is an ancient bell with a height of 1.25 meters and a diameter of 1.1 meters cast in the 22nd year of Daoguang in the Qing Dynasty (1842) with Pu Lao and various patterns. There is a strange osmanthus tree in the temple, about 3 meters high, which died in 1966, revived in 1985, and blooms yearly. A miracle for the biological world.
Paotai Mountain is 863 meters above sea level, northeast of Chengdu. The top of the mountain looks like a five-petaled lotus called Lotus Mountain. During the Xianfeng period of the Qing Dynasty, a Song Dynasty bronze cannon and pedestal were dug out of the Paotai Mountain. Behind the wall is a chart of nine golden dragons making a scene, and it reads: The mountain is widely planted, and longevity is boundless. The top of the eaves is Erlong Xizhu. The dragon totem is commonly used in temples, which is rare in many temples in western Sichuan, proving the prominent status of the ancient Nianhua Temple.
The Gongjia Mountain in the southeast of Paotai Mountain runs obliquely and meets Longzhao Ridge and Paotai Mountain. On both sides of the mountain, two peaks face each other at Yingzuiyan, like a leaping eagle guarding the mountain. It looks like a flying dragon pouncing on a lotus, called “Flying Dragon Pounces on Lotus”. It is called “jumping eagle and protecting lotus”. More than 300 acres, 40,000 trees, ancient temples in the forest, the wonders of ground cracks in front of and behind the mountain, and the sandstone cave “Tianxing Cave”.
In the Longquan of Western Shu, since the Qin and Han Dynasties, Li Babai, the Eight Immortals of Shu, and master An Shigao have practised here. After the Tang and Song Dynasties, it became a well-known Fengshui treasure land for Taoism, Buddhism, immortality and meditation. Li Chungeng and Yuan Tiangang practised Taoism in the mountains. Tang Dynasty eminent monks such as Mazu, Yuanming, Yuangang, and Wuda Guoshi also stayed in the temples in the mountains. In Xi, the Tuojiang river, thousands of miles away, gathers three rivers in Jintang, splits into the Jintang gorge angrily, breaks through the barrier of Longquan mountain, and flows southward. At the mouth of the gorge, two mountains face each other, towering straight into the sky, with Yunding mountain on the west bank and Paotai mountain on the east bank.