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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)-China

The Hanging Temple Xuankong Si is situated near the sacred Dacist Mountain, Hengshan, sticking to it 75 meters above ground. It is located in the Hunyuan County, in China’s Shanxi province and it is believed to have been built more than 1500 years ago, at the end of the Northern Wei Dynasty by only one monk named Liao Ron. The hanging religious edifice covers an area of 152,5 square meters; this half construction half excavation building containing 40 well balanced chambers connected by corridors, bridges and boardwalks. The major construction weighting at least 10 tones follows a unique mechanical theory regarding the framework; the crossbeams were half inserted into the rock as the foundation. Xuankong Si does not have a square shape like most Asian temples but it incorporates all the traditional structures: main gate, bell and drum towers, roof with ridges.
The reason Xuankong Si was built so high above the ground may be one of practicality – defense against marauders or protection from floods.  The more romantic version is that the Monks were dedicated to silence and so high above the ground they might achieve this ideal.  It is said that they were forbidden to hear the barking of dog, the wailing of a child or even the sound of a rooster crowing as it welcomed the dawn. It is now largely a tourist attraction but caretakers are said to still live in its caves and halls.
Nominated one of the world’s 10 most dangerous architectures, the Hanging Temple in China is considered one great cultural achievement combining an extraordinary location with a unique mechanical theory and a harmonic mixture of three world renowned religions. The legend behind this dramatic sight appearing to defy gravity tells that the Hanging Temple was built to suppress the monsters that caused the nearby river to flood often. Nowadays, this peculiar architectural wonder represents a symbol of unity among the Chinese people achieved through the combination of the three major religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

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