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Hanging Monastery & Mt. Hengshan

Hanging  Monastery

Hanging Monastery, Datong

The Hanging  Monastery is 65 kilometers (40 miles) away from the city of Datong in Hunyuan County. It is a range of traditional Chinese temple buildings hanging on the cliffs of Jinlongxia (Golden Dragon Valley) of the famous Hengshan Mountain.it is reputed as Hanging Temple in Shanxi Province.

Records indicate that the temple was originally constructed in the fifth century during the late period of the Northern Wei and was restored successively in the later dynasties. The present buildings are the main restorations from the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties.

Datong-Hanging Monastery

The temple structures are constructed along a large concave cliff; the extrusive cliffs have sheltered the structures from the elements throughout the ages. Fifty meters (164 feet) high from the ground, these wooden-framed buildings seem to be 'hanging' along the steep cliffs like a piece of fine artwork against a natural screen. The buildings appear to be supported by only a dozen wood pillars. From the foot of the hill the viewing angle creates a more frightening sight!

What actually support the buildings are solid wooden beams vertically half-inserted into the cliffs with the top half extending out. The cliff rocks in back support the girders. Wood boards atop the extending pillars act as the foundation, upon which, various structures are built.

Limited by the length of the beams, the buildings are in a range of less than 10-meter (32.8 feet) wide construction, not as spacious as those built on the land. However, all the essential parts found in Chinese Buddhist temples are included within this limited area. From south to north, a full range of Mountain Gate, Bell and Drum towers, the main Buddha halls and affiliated structures are elaborately arranged. One of the main halls even intrudes further into the cliff to create a larger space. Inside the temple are enshrined all sorts of bronze and stone Buddha statues and sculptures. The color-clay sculptures in Sanshengdian (Hall of Three Divinities) are the masterpieces from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).

Admission Fee: CNY 60
Opening Hours: 9:10 to 17:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: Two hours

Mt. Hengshan

Mt Hengshan is one of the five most famous mountains in China known as the honored Bei Yue. It lies 60 kilometers south of the Datong City in Shanxi Province. Famous for its beautiful sceneries and precarious cliffs, the mountain is also a holy mountain for Taoists. It is said that Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Immortals in Tao, cultivated himself on the mountain and reached immortality.

Admission Fee: CNY 56 for entrance charge and temple groups
CNY 45 for cable car
Opening Hours: 9:10 to 16:50
Recommended Time for a Visit: One and a half hours
Datong Dining & Local Products
A local treat, bronze hotpot, which has been famous since the reign of Northern Wei Kingdom, is another highlight visitors shouldn't miss. The vessel is not only for eating but also a delicate artwork because of the beautiful designs carved on the pot. Guangling (a place name) Torfu, yellow cake (made with yellow rice flour), Pea noodles, buckwheat lumps, naked oat noodles, offal soup and Yanggao (a place name) Preserved Apricots are all delicious and scrumptious. Woolen carpets from Datong, have a long history of more than 2,000 years, are famed both at home and abroad. Yungang Dolls which are made by damask, silk, yarn, cotton and many other materials, are vivid and lifelike.