5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

China is one of the world’s most innovative and progressive countries, yet step away from the modernity and you’ll discover a country that maintains a firm grip on its ancient cultures and spirituality. There’s hundreds of fascinating temples and shrines scattered across this great land that offer a glimpse into the centuries-old philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. To see them all could take a lifetime, so we’ve chosen five of the most beautiful to get you started.

Dafo Temple, Gansu Province

Credit: gionnixxx/iStock

Constructed during the Western Xia dynasty, this 2nd-century temple is one of the last-surviving wooden landmarks from the era located in China. It’s often called the “Great Buddha Temple”, a reference to the 115-foot-long sleeping Buddha that greets you in the main hall. Sculptures of arhats, who are Buddhists that have gained enlightenment, surround the giant statue, as do murals of classic Chinese stories such as Journey to the West and Classic of Mountain and Seas. Legend states that a Yuan Dynasty queen lived there and gave birth to the Mongolian warrior Kublai Khan.

Hanging Temple (Xuankong Si), Shanxi Province

Credit: Dashu Xinganling/Shutterstock.com

Little can prepare you for your first sight of this series of pagodas set precariously on a cliff face at the base of Mount Heng. Time Magazine included the temple in its list of Top 10 Precarious Buildings, and it is easy to see why when studying the interconnecting walkways and long supporting stilts, which are embedded into the rocks. Despite giving the impression that it will fall at any moment, the temple has stood firm for 1,400 years. Even more impressive when it is said the foundations were laid by a solitary monk. In addition to its magnificent structure, the temple is the only place in China where Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are all practiced.

Labrang Monastery, Gansu Province

Credit: Marcin Szymczak/Shutterstock.com

Established in 1709, Labrang Monastery plays host to the largest group of monks outside of Tibet and, at one point, provided residence for up to 4,000 of them. A great way to experience its serene beauty is to follow the inner kora, a 2.2-mile pathway of prayer wheels that pass numerous chapels and temple halls. Guided tours provide access to some halls and the chance to observe the monks’ activities first hand. Get here at sunrise to see the monks praying, or come at dusk to hear them chanting sutras.

Longmen Cave Temples, Henan Province

Credit: YinYang/iStockphoto

On an almost 1-mile long stretch of the Yi River waterfront is a collection of 2,300 caves that have existed since around 493 A.D. Each cave is etched into limestone cliffs and features some of the finest known examples of art from the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties. There’s over 110,000 statues and 60 Buddhist pagodas. Among the most striking statues are the huge Buddhas in the Guyangdong Cave and Three Binyang Cave. Such is the value of the caves that they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Credit: zhaojiankang/iStockphoto

In the heart of Beijing is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture that dates back to 1406. The main temple, the triple-tier circular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, stands magnificently on a square marble base. This square-round contrast stems from the ancient Chinese belief of a round heaven and square Earth. The four inner, 12 middle, and 12 outer columns of the hall’s brightly-colored interior symbolize the four seasons, 12 months, and 12 Chinese zodiac hours. Landscaped gardens and pine woods encompass the temple and the entire complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

China: Stolen stone tower back from Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Stolen stone tower back from Taiwan

A CEREMONY was held at Shanxi Provincial Museum yesterday to welcome the return of a stone tower that was stolen 19 years ago from a village in north China and ended up in Taiwan.

The Dengyu stone tower, which was originally in Dengyu village of Yushe county, Shanxi, features Buddha images carved into its four sides. The piece was made in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The tower was 320 centimeters high and composed of a base, a 177-centimeter body, and spire. It is an excellent example of Tang Dynasty stone carving and was given provincial-level protection in 1965.

In 1996, the spire was stolen and is still missing.

The tower body was stolen in 1998, taken out of the Chinese mainland, and donated by a private collector to Taiwan’s Chung Tai Chan Monastery in 2015. The monastery decided to return the tower to Shanxi last year after it confirmed its origins.

The tower arrived at Shanxi Provincial Museum on January 24.

“We really appreciate the temple’s decision,” said Wang Taiming, head of Yushe county’s cultural relic bureau.

“The donation is an excellent example of cultural exchange between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland,” said Master Jian Deng, abbot of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery.

The museum said it will speed up safety improvements to preserve the pagoda and organize an exhibition.

For At Least 70+ Years Chinese Women Who Were Forced To Be Japanese Soldiers Whores (Comfort Women) Want An Apology From Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

FOR the past 70 years, Liu Fenghai, 89, has had her sleep interrupted countless times by the same nightmare.

“I dreamed about Japanese soldiers with sabers on their backs hunting me like an animal,” Liu, from north Shanxi Province, said.

The tragedy is that this is no dream.

Liu was sexually assaulted when she was just 16 and her limp, lifeless body left for dead in a ravine by Imperial Japanese Army soldiers. She managed to summon what was left of her energy and crawled back home. The ordeal left her bed bound and unable to walk for over a month.

Today is China’s third National Memorial Day to Commemorate Victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

“Comfort women,” were women and girls forced into sex slavery by the Japanese during World War II. More than 100 were from Shanxi and those still alive today are still waiting for an official apology from Japan.

The clock, however, is ticking.

Zhang Shuangbing has been visiting and interviewing comfort women in the province for the past 35 years.

Of the 129 women Zhang has on record, only seven are still alive and, to this day, they are still plagued by disturbing flashbacks of the sexual abuse, beatings and physical torture they endured.

On June 13, 1943, Hao Yuelian, who was 15 at the time, was raped by two Japanese soldiers in her own home while her parents were out.

Later that same day, beaten, bruised and shaken from her earlier encounter with the soldiers she was abducted and put to work in a military brothel to provide sexual services to the Japanese army. She was kept tied up and raped day and night.

“The Japanese government must acknowledge the crime and apologize. I must live and wait for the day to come,” Hao said.

Hao was left infertile due to her ordeal. Hers is not an isolated case.

“Nearly one sixth of the comfort women I visited were infertile because of what they were put through,” Zhang said.

Those that struggled, or tried to escape, were murdered, others committed suicide, and some simply tried to forget what had happened and refused to talk about it, Zhang said.

“I spoke to nearly 130 women in Shanxi, but there were more women in the province who had been forced into sex slavery during the war. I did not get the chance to meet them all,” Zhang said.

Some 400,000 women in Asia were forced to serve as comfort women during WWII, nearly half of whom were Chinese, according to Su Zhiliang, director of the comfort women research center at Shanghai Normal University.

On behalf of the women victims in Shanxi, Zhang submitted a letter of complaint to the Japanese government in 1992. The Supreme Court in Japan threw out the lawsuit in 2007. The three groups of comfort women who tried to sue the Japanese government all passed away without receiving an apology or compensation.

“They are witnesses to an event that should never be forgotten, but we are losing them every day,” Zhang said.