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The Suspended Temple of Mt. Hengshan
Located at the foot of Mt. Hengshan in China's Shanxi Province, the Suspended Temple is nestled in the steep precipices and cliffs of Cuiping Peak west of Jinlong Gorge. The temple was built among the cliffs, suspended in midair. It is arguably the No. 1 spectacle of Mt. Hengshan.
The Suspended Temple was built in the late years of the Northern Wei Dynasty (around 471-523 AD), some 1,400 years ago. It was repeatedly renovated in later dynasties, but the original structure remained unchanged. The existing building is the ruins of the renovations carried out in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The temple is the only existing one featuring the integration Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian cultures. Completely built on the mountain cliff, the wood-structure temple is supported by the beams inserted into the chiseled holes in the cliff. The temple is suspended in the air, with precipices on the top and chasms at the bottom. Looked from afar, the temple is like an exquisite relief sculpture; looked at close quarters, the temple is on the point of flying into the sky. There are over 40 halls in the temple and more than 80 Buddhist sculptures made of bronze, iron, stone and mud.
On the rock wall along the plank way of the temple, there are four engraved characters "Gong Shu Tian Qiao". "Gong Shu" is the name of Lu Ban, who is considered by the Chinese as the father of builders. The meaning of the four characters is that a marvelous temple like this could only be built by great masters with exceptionally superb skills like Lu Ban. A local ballad describing the breathtaking nature of the temple goes like this: "the Suspended Temple is in mid air; looks like the temple is suspended by three horsetails". The famous poet Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty wrote "zhuangguan" (which means "spectacular") on the cliff wall. And the great traveler Xu Xiake of the Ming Dynasty called the Suspended Temple "a marvelous wonder" in his travel notes.
The Suspended Temple is located in the depths of mountains, with the reservoir of Mt. Hengshan at its side. Holding 13 million cubic meters of water the rippling reservoir is crystal clear. When the spillway gate is completely open, torrents are spewing in the valley. The water and the mountain contrast nicely with each other, adding luster and beauty to the fascinating Suspended Temple.
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