The Hanging Temple: One of the World’s Forgotten Wonders

After being mesmerized by the beauty of the ancient Yungang Grottoes, I was patiently waiting at the exit for my driver. Unfortunately, he needed few more passengers going to the Hanging Temple. The 2 Chinese tourists who were with me didn’t go with us. For almost an hour I waited for the driver to come back.  Finally, he found 2 other people who were interested to visit the ancient temple.

The taxi that took me around Datong from my hotel to the Yungang Grottoes,  to the Hanging Temple and then back to my hotel for 100 yuan.

The weather was hot that day and the taxi’s AC was not working, it took us more than an hour drive from Yungang Grottoes to the hanging temple. I couldn’t communicate with the people with me since of course I only know 1 Chinese word and I was not even sure if I pronounced it correctly.

I was trying to stay awake during the trip to the temple so I took pictures of mountains and beautiful scenery.

Aside from patiently waiting for us to arrive, I entertained myself with the stunning landscapes of China. Not far from the city, there were road and railway constructions. It was a busy highway with large trucks transporting gravel, dirt, and cement. After few moments of trying to enjoy the trip, we finally arrive.

Finally we arrived. This is the parking area. Our driver waited here for us.
There were few Chinese tourists that day. I was the only foreigner. Most tourists in China are locals. The entrance of the temple.
The entrance to the first hall.

The Hanging Temple  is located 64.23 kilometers to the northwest of Datong in Shanxi Province. It is said that the temple was constructed by a monk named Liao Ran during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD).  Its best feature is the presence of the 3 main traditional religion of China namely Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. As for how it was built, the ancient structure is made of oak wood fitted into holes chiseled into the bedrock.

The picture shows how obviously old the temple is. However, it remained strong for decades. And the design is remarkable.
These are the 2 kids I met during the tour. They were with me in the taxi. I was so glad this kid in the picture knows a little English and could understand me.
This is how a 1500-year old stairs look like.
Outside the souvenir shop.
Some of the beautiful pieces of art the souvenir shop is selling.

The temple is literally hanging on the side of the cliff. There are plenty of dizzying passageways inside. There is a section where a part of the cliff was chiseled and made to a small passageway that connected the rooms.  Inside is a puzzle like tiny passages, empty small rooms, and a souvenir shop. For 1500 years, it  was well maintained and kept active for religious practices. Since it is really an old structure, only 600 people are allowed at one time.

The temple from afar. For me, it looks like a toy temple or house glued in a ragged wall. It so amazing, it’s unreal.
If I am not mistaken, the Chinese word written on the rock means ” Splendid or Spectacular” something like that, describing the temple. The wooden pillar are not originally part of the temple. Without the pillars that seem to steady the structure, the temple would still remain perfectly stable. Amazing, isn’t it?

Originally, the temple was built without the wooden pillars which appear to support the structure. It was hanging literally 50 meters above ground. Years later, the pillars were added to help visitors feel secure while in the temple. But even without the pillars, it can survive.

Look at the roof’s unique ancient Chinese art.
Seriously, I was really scared. It wobbles every time I walk. Unfortunately, I was not brave enough to reach the top.

By the way, the temple wobbles. It was scary actually thinking that it is 1500 years old and most probably there are certain sections of it that needs to be reconstructed for safety or maybe I was just really scared up there that my mind was thinking unnecessary precautions.

The temple is surrounded with mountains like this on the picture.
This was my view while I was up there. It doesn’t look too high in the picture, but it was in reality.

Since the temple was surrounded by the Hengshan Mountain, the view from the top was amazingly beautiful with the surrounding cliffs, a stream and people looking up probably thinking if they are brave enough to climb.

  • Entrance Fee: 130 yuan per person
  • Open: Summer 8:00–18:00 – Winter 8:30–17:30
  • Location: 65 km (40 mi) southeast of Datong City


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