#5 in Best Places to Visit in China - Dengfeng town sits in the Henan Province of China. Here’s where you’ll see culture suffused in every nook and cranny of the place, making Dengfeng more than a tourist destination, it’s a place where tradition and China’s past are etched in the way people carry out their lives and the manner in which it rubs off on you when you come visit.
This is no small boast. After all, Dengfeng being nestled in a place as majestic as the Songshan Mountains makes it a scenic, lovely, memorable and historic place. Standing essentially at the foot of Mount Songshan, Shaolin influence has spread very extensively here, rooting itself in the Dengfeng township and nearby.
The ancient art China is proud to call King Fu—something the whole world has come to appreciate—finds itself in the spotlight here, where you’ll see practices, re-enactments and more, using the natural style of this infamous and singular martial art.
Temples in Dengfeng
Don’t be surprised to find many a temple and religious center here. Dengfeng is one of China’s reputed spiritual centers. The art of Shaolin King Fu is in itself based on strong spiritual foundations. As such, it’s a great idea to check out Mt. Songshang. Not only is it the highest mountain of China’s five most famous, it’s also where the actual Shaolin Temple resides.
You may not be permitted to enter the most sacred areas of the Temple but what you are open to see will reveal a place where monks practice their Qigong and other kung fu arts. Stretching 60 kms. east to west, this is one prominent location in Dengfeng you simply cannot miss seeing. Since you’re up here, spare a while to admire the Zhongyue (discussed below), Fawang and Huishan Temples, three of China’s oldest.
It would be unjust not to speak of the Shaolin Temple, dating all the way back to 495 AD. Aside from being one of the places where kung fu and Zen Buddhism are nurtured, the Temple has an amazing history behind how it came to be and the purpose that fuels its very existence.
The Sui and Tang Dynasties enjoyed elevating this location to the top of the fame ladder and here’s where you’ll also see an ideal balance between the Chan School and Chinese martial arts in general. The graveyard here is called the Pagoda Forest and the architecture of the place will make you wonder if the spirits of eminent monks long deceased really do live on and appreciate what their descendants left them by way of this tomb.
The Zhongyue Temple found its origins during the Qin Dynasty when many a minister and emperor came to pay their respects to Mount Songshan’s God. Spread across 100,000 square meters, this is no small complex. There are 11 establishments built strategically, running along a 6.5km. axis. With over 400 ancient buildings done in the Qing Royal Place design, the 335 cypresses you may hear about were planted here from the Han through Song Dynasties.
Dengfeng is a hub of cultural and spiritual significance and nowhere in China is there something similar, making this township rather unique and worthy of an up-close appreciation.