Hanging Monastery(懸空寺)

Hanging Monastery

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The Hanging Monastery was built in the later years of Northern Wei Dynasty around 1500 years ago.  It had been repaired many times since but the foundation and structure had never been altered.  It is located about 65 kilometers away from the city Datong, Shanxi, facing Mount Heng and back along the precipice of Mount Cuiping (翠屏山).  Above it hangs dangerous stratum of rock layers and below is a 75 meters deep valley.  It is an architectural wonder.  The straight pillars that you see are not the support of  the temple.  The actual supports are the cross beams that was inserted into the side of the mountain.  It has survived with minimum erosion for so many years is due to its positioned in a natural crevice which gets minimal exposure to sunlight, wind, and rain.  It is said that it conforms to the Taoist theory of no noises.  It is shield from all noises by nature.

Legend has it that the reason for building a hanging monastery was because this mountain was mainly a Taoist cultivation ground.  But monk  Liao Ran (了然), who also had been cultivating here wanted to build a Buddhist monastery.  Fearing that the Taoist would oppose his Buddhist temple, he built it single handily off the cliff and also included the monastery a temple dedicate to Sakyamuni Buddha,  Laozi, and Confucius.

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See to crossbeam underneath.  It is the real support of the monastery

It is small but concise including everything that a large monastery would have.  If you are venturous enough to go up to have a closer look, be sure to watch your head while going up and down the stairs.  It feels like on a boat without the waves.

 

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