Most Important Temples to Visit in China (II)
Most Important Temples to Visit in China: Hanging Monastery
Built into the side of a cliff nearly 250 feet (75m) above the ground, the Hanging Monastery has a spectacular setting that conjures up visions of esoteric monks who have cut all ties with the world, or perhaps a secret brotherhood of staff-wielding adepts who went into hiding.
The real story behind the temple's spectacular location, however, was the sporadic flooding of the nearby river (now dammed), which forced the monks to raise the buildings far off the valley floor, supported by long stilts propped up against the cliff face.
Although it's about halfway between Datong and Wutai Shan, there's no place to store luggage, so it's best visited as a day trip from Datong. You can also visit the nearby Wooden Pagoda at the same time, which was built in 1056 without a single nail and which has survived numerous earthquakes. Unfortunately, for the time being you can no longer climb the pagoda.
Most Important Temples to visit in China: Jade Buddha Temple
As far as Chinese temples go, this is a relative newcomer. It wasn't completed until the late 19th century, after five jade Buddhas were brought back from Burma by the monk Hui Gen, and it was later moved in the early 20th century.
Hui, originally from the sacred island of Putuoshan (off the coast south of Shanghai), had earlier gone on a pilgrimage, traveling from the two Buddhist mountains of Wutai Shan and Emei Shan to Tibet and then on to Burma. There, he met an overseas Chinese by the name of Chen Jun-Pu, who donated the statues.
Today, the temple houses two of the original five jade Buddhas. After your visit, stop by the temple's vegetarian restaurant around the corner.
Address: 170 Anyuan Rd (安远路170号)
Metro: Changshou Rd