Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Datong - Hanging Temple

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The second and final day in Datong I headed to the Hanging Temple, which is an hour's ride outside of the city. Like the name suggests, the temple is in a constant state of suspension on the side of a mountain. It was built about 1500 years ago, similarly to the Yungang Grottoes, but the temple isn't in the original, crumbling form and has been renovated several times. Considering its precarious position hanging from the side of a mountain, with loads of tourists visiting everyday and the need to support their weight, it doesn't surprise me that it has been fixed up a little.

Hanging Temple (懸空寺)

Temple from a Distance

Wes and Hanging Temple

Temple from Below

Temple Side View

As you can see from the pictures, most of the temple rests on a ledge that has been carved back into the rock. However, some of the walkways and other parts are suspended merely by some thin wooden stilts. Seems pretty safe, especially with hordes of tourists loaded up on the walkways waiting to go through the temple. Because the temple is carved into the mountain, it provides a really nice cover from the elements. When walking around outside of the temple, it was really cold and windy, but inside you couldn't feel any wind and it was a lot warmer.

Stilted Walkway

Stilted Part of Temple

After walking around the areas outside of the temple, I went on the walking tour through the temple. You follow a procession of tourists through a set walking path and go over, up, and back through nearly all rooms, walkways, and areas of the temple. While it only takes a half hour or so, it's really cool to see the temple and the surrounding mountain scenery.

Hanging Temple Up Close

On Top Level of Temple

Wes with Temple and Mountains

Because it is a temple, there were also several interesting religious statues in some of the side rooms of the temple.

I Like the Angry, Blue Warlord on the Right
(This might be something similar to the good angel, bad angel situation. The white statue on the left seems to be advocating peace, the blue one on the right war, and the bronze statue in the middle listening to them, but that's just a guess.)

Black Eyed Statues

I took a bit more time to walk around and take pictures of the temple after the tour. Admittedly, a lot of the pictures look pretty much the same, but you can never have enough pictures and different angles.

Full View of Hanging Temple

Characteristic Chinese Rock Denoting Landmark with Fancy Writing (懸空寺)

After visiting the Hanging Temple, I got on a train back to Hangzhou that same afternoon. That concludes my trip to Inner Mongolia (Hohhot, Grasslands, and Desert) and Datong (Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Temple). It might have taken me three months to finish all the blog posts, but at least I finally got around to it. All told I was traveling for about 8 days and covered over 2500 miles. It was a blast and definitely a side of China I haven't seen before. I went from one side of a rail line all the way to the other side, from Hangzhou to Baotou.

Train Sign Commemorating the Inner Mongolia and Datong Trip October 2009

For more pictures of the Hanging Temple, see: http://picasaweb.google.com/wallred10/DatongHangingTemple#


Yoli said...

I will be visiting soon with my family and I am enjoying your pictures. They are stunning.