Wind Hole (Fengxue) Temple and Its Pagodas
The Wind Hole Temple is located 5.6 miles north-east of Ruzhou City in Henan Province. Together with Wind Hole Mountain, Yuhuang Mountain, Shilou Peak, the Big and Small Wind Holes, and the surrounding natural views, Wind Hole Temple belongs to the Wind Hole Mountain Scenic Area which covers an area of 18.5 square miles.
It is one of the oldest temples in China and the construction of which began in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386534). In the mountains east of it, there are two big and two small wind holes. When weather changes, a sudden gust will blow through the holes. This phenomenon gives the temple its name, Wind Hole Temple. But its first name was "Xiangji Temple". In the Sui Dynasty (581 - 618), it was called "Qianfeng Temple" and renamed "Baiyun Temple" in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).
The temple faces south-west. Although a northern temple, it is different from the typical northern temples which lie on a certain axis, and was built by conforming to the contours of the land. Endowed with a long history, the temple houses over 100 different architectural styles and was built in successive dynasties ranging from Jin, Yuan, to Ming and Qing Dynasties, so it is thought of as "the Museum of Ancient Architecture". Among the vast amounts of ancient architecture the Qizu Pagoda, the Bell Tower, and the Buddha Hall are considered to be the three national treasures in the Wind Hole Temple.
Built in 738, Qizu Pagoda is one of the six Tang pagodas that are still well preserved today. It measures 79.3 feet high and has nine layers. The tower is parabola shaped. It was built to commemorate the famous monk Zhen who made great contribution to the temple. The Bell Tower was built in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), where a precious big iron bell hangs that weighs 11,023 pounds. The Buddha Hall is built on a brick platform measuring 49.2 feet high. Decorated with upturned eaves, the hall looks like an eagle spreading its wings about to take flight. As well as these three treasures, other attached buildings such as the Kwan-yin Pavilion, the Lianyi Pavilion, and the Jiesheng Bridge are equally decorated and are very elegant in appearance.
Pagoda Forest: Usually, beside the historical temples, there are crowds of ancient pagodas, which are closely spaced like a forest, so they are called "Pagoda Forest". They are the tomb pagodas of venerable monks of the temples. The longer history of the temple has, and the larger scale of the pagoda forest is. The number of tomb pagodas in different pagoda forests varies greatly from several to several hundred. In China, there are six famous pagoda forests which are located in Shaolin Temple, Wind Hole Temple, Lingya Temple, Qingtong Gorge, Shentong Temple and Qiyan Temple.
The Pagoda Forest in Wind Hole Temple ranks the second largest after Shaolin Temple. It is located on the mountain slope outside the temple. Here, pagodas are scattered all about. There are 83 brick pagodas of Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
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