Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Temple is situated in the Songshan Mountains in the Henan province of the People's Republic of China. Henan means "south of the yellow river". The capital city is Zhengzhou and 65km southwest of Zhengzhou lies the town Dengfeng. The Shaolin Temple lies 15 km from Dengfeng. Domestic flights can be taken from Beijing to Dengfeng.


The monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Perhaps the most well-known story of the Temple's destruction is that it was destroyed in 1732 by the Qing government for supposed anti-Qing activities; this destruction is also supposed to have helped spread Shaolin martial arts through China by means of fugitive monks. This story commonly appears in martial arts history and in fiction. However, accounts of the Qing Dynasty destroying the Shaolin temple may refer to a southern Shaolin temple, which Xu Ke, in the Qing bai lei chao (1917), located in Fujian Province. Additionally, some martial arts historians, such as Tang Hao and Stanley Henning, believe that the story is likely fictional, appearing only at the very end of the Qing period in novels and sensational literature. In 1928, the warlord Shi Yousan set fire to the monastery, destroying many priceless manuscripts of the temple library, some of its halls, and damaging the aforementioned Stele. The Cultural Revolution purged all monks and Buddhist materials from within its walls, leaving the temple barren for years. It was subsequently rebuilt, repopulated and designated an official tourist site by the Chinese government after the overwhelming success of the Jet Li movie Shaolin Temple in 1982. Martial arts groups from all over the world have made donations for the upkeep of the temple and grounds, and are subsequently honored with carved stones near the entrance of the temple.

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