Wednesday, June 24, 2015

北京-山西 trip omnibus 3

The Beijing-Shanxi trip omnibus continues with the spectacular 悬空古寺 Hanging Temple and the sacred Daoist mountain, 恒山 Hengshan, of which it's part - all just seventy-odd kilometers south of our base, Datong. No wonder the sage at left sat backward as he rode his donkey into the mountain.

The hanging/suspended/floating temple was started in 491 CE. At least since the Song dynasty it's been a multi-faith, well, specifically three-faith (三教 sanjiao, Confucianism-Daoism-Buddhism) temple, though Buddhism predominates in small halls decked out in different styles. Especially after the gaudiness surrounding Yungang I feared a tourist trap but, perhaps because we arrived during the lunch hour on a Tuesday, we had the place practically to ourselves. Magical.

Hengshan, a loud musical loop told us over and over again without cease, is one of Daoism's most sacred mountains. A pricy new ropeway promises to take you where the old one did, though they warn that the map on the back of your ticket still shows the old ropeway... so we drove part way, and climbed the rest. The steep walk actually made arriving at the impressive congeries of temples nestled in the mountain the more satisfying, not that you can visit or even see them all... 

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