Zhengzhou and the Shaolin Temple

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Asia, China, Travel | 0 comments

Zhengzhou and the Shaolin Temple

We took a weekend to head to Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province in China, a 5 hour train ride from Beijing.

Shaolin Temple

Our first stop was UNESCO World Heritage listed Shaolin temple on Mount Song, which is about an hour’s drive from Zhengzhou.  The temple is famous for being the birthplace of Zen Buddhism in China, it is here that the monks developed martial arts, in particular kungfu.

The temple is very popular with Chinese tourists, and it was quite busy on the weekend.  Kung-fu is still practised here today, the monks arrive as young as seven or eight and dedicate their lives to the study of Buddhism and martial arts.  You will see there are several martial art schools in the local area, this is THE place to learn martial arts in China.

The story of the development of martial arts at the Shaolin temple is that the founder of Zen Buddhism (Bodhidharma) arrived from India in the 6th century, and was shocked to see how weak the monks were from their hours of meditation.  He believed that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and began teaching them self-defence.

This was also important so that the monks could protect the temple, and the art of combat slowly grew.  The Shaolin temple complex has beautiful open courtyards, and monks wander throughout the temple, some can be seen doing daily chores.  There is a half hour long live kungfu show performed by young kungfu students, the show includes them doing things like breaking bars with their heads.




shaolin 2




Lantern at temple


Shaolin Zen Music Ritual show

Every evening during the summer and autumn months at a nearby venue the Shaolin Zen Music Ritual show is performed.  This is a spectacular performance, with monks moving in perfect unison.  As darkness falls, hundreds of monks jump and twist on the stage, which is literally built into the surrounding cliff edges.  The performance is an hour and a half (with no intermission) and ranges from soothing meditative chants to energetic kungfu.


monks perform

The Shaolin Zen Music Ritual show


Kangbaiwan Manor (the millionaire’s mansion)

The Kang family were extremely wealthy and the biggest landowners in feudal times.  Stroll through the preserved complex and see how they lived, wander the courtyards, and look into rooms like the servant quarters and grand hall.


Wayne exploring the

Wayne exploring the Kangbaiwan


Henan museum 

Back in Zhengzhou we stopped in at the Henan museum before heading back to Beijing.  The museum offers a comprehensive collection of Chinese artefacts, which allow you to imagine what life was like the Chinese throughout the ages.  There is a variety of pottery, porcelain, bronze and musical instruments, this place is a must see if you like a bit of history.

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