China Zhengzhou attractions, Zhongyue Temple (Zhongyue Miao) introduced.

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Zhongyue Temple (Zhongyue Miao)

The Zhongyue Temple (Zhongyue Miao) or Central Mountain Temple, is a Taoist site situated halfway up the Huanggai peak of the Songshan range. The temple is one of the oldest of its kind in China, originally built in the Qin Dynasty over 2,200 years ago, and moved to its present site in the Tang (618-907 AD).

Although the nearby Buddhist Shaolin Monastery, with its kung fu and Chan (Zen) study, is better known and more visited, the Zhongyue Temple is arguably as good, a huge working temple that is full of interesting sights and some of the regions friendliest, blue robed monks, all of whom have hair knotted  into a round queue at the back.

The Temple has changed greatly over the years, mainly due to imperial favor and war. In the Han (206 BC-220 AD), under imperial orders from emperor Wu Di, the temple was rebuilt and expanded. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), the temple was again expanded, but it was in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that the temple took on the form that it retains today, being remodeled under emperor's orders in a style similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing. The last major change that the temple was to undergo was due to damage received here from bombs dropped during the Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945). Repairs took place in 1986.

Along the center line of the temple lie about 400 constructions of various kinds including archways, pavilions, terraces, gates, halls, and towers, as well as many (over 300) tall, gnarled and weather-beaten cypresses, mostly in the large courtyard. On entering the main gate and continuing straight forward, through a few courtyards, you will come to the impressive Junji Gate that is guarded by two ferocious, four meter high, brightly colored sentries. The gate itself leads you on to the Main Hall, where emperors used to make sacrifices to the mountain. This hall is one of the most colorful and the largest in the temple with red walls and bright orange tiling. The entrance steps to the hall also have a well looked after engraved dragon, beckoning you to enter. Behind the main hall is another large building, the Bedroom Palace, that contains many deities, including one central one, reclined in bed.

The most interesting sight here, however, are the four, 3.5-meter-high iron figures built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) and now situated in the eastern part of the Temple. These figures were built to guard the temple facing north, south, east and west, and are nowadays patted by children to gain strength, a local custom. Also of interest to Buddhist followers are the countless tomes of Taoist lexicons, steles and inscriptions that the temple houses. Most of the rear of the temple is dedicated to Taoist practice, from Qigong to incense burning, and it is here that many of the monks congregate.

How to get there: At the Zhengzhou Long-distance Bus Station just next to the railway station, take a bus that goes to Zhongyue Temple. The fare is about RMB12 and the trip lasts about 2 hours. Walkers can make the 4km trip to the temple from Dengfeng Town.