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Henan

The province of Henan is located in the central-east part of China and the lower - middle reaches of the Yellow River. Henan is one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilizations and it has in its history over twenty kingdoms and dynasties which had their respective capitals in its territory, of which Luoyang and Kaifeng are two of the six great ancient capitals of China. There are abundant resources for the tourism of history, culture and religions such as Longmen Grottoes, White Horse Temple, Shaolin Monastery, Mt. Songshan (one of the five sacred mountains in China), Tombs of Song Dynasty, etc.

Located in the central and eastern part of China, at the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, Henan Province has an area of 167,000 square kilometers and a population of 88.61 million. It was the birthplace of the Yellow River Culture. According to a large number of popular legends and historic records, it was Henan that Fuxi, Nuwa, Xuanyuan Huangdi, Diku, Zhuanxu, the ancestors of the Chinese nation, who created the Chinese civilization. The provincial capital is Zhengzhou.

The Yellow River basin has been called the cradle of the Chinese nation where mankind lived as early as 500,000 to 600,000 years ago. In Henan Province several hundred cultural sites of the Neolithic Age (4,000 to 10,000 years ago) have been found. The famous Peiligang Culture, Yangshao Culture, Longshan Culture reflect the prosperity in this area during the late period of the primitive society. During the period of 21st century B. C., when the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in China's history, was established, to the Northern Song Dynasty, more than 20 dynasties with more than 200 emperors set or moved their capital cities here.

Recommended Scenic Spots

Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng City

Located at the foot of Songshan Mountain, the Shaolin Monastery is well known all over the world for its outstanding Shaolin Martial Arts. Each year, many Martial Art organizations in Japan, Singapore, America and Switzerland send their members to visit Shaolin Temple and learn the Shaolin Martial Arts.

Built in 495AD, Shaolin Temple is the famous home of Kung Fu (wushu). It is also the home of the Chan (Zen) sect of Buddhism, which was introduced in 527 by the Indian monk Boddhidharma, founder of the sect. At Shaolin, Boddhidharma supposedly spent 9 years facing a wall in the state of illumination and visitors can still go to the cave where he meditated.

The draw of Shaolin Temple for most is Kung Fu. Visitors can watch thousands of young trainees dressed in the colors of their respective schools practice this martial art. In September, the temple comes alive with guests from all over the world, as it hosts the international Wushu Festival.

The 30,000 sq meter temple comprises 7 rows of buildings including the Hall of Heavenly King, Dharma Pavilion, Thousand Buddha Hall, White-Robe Bodhhisattva Hall and the Hall of Ksitigarbba (Guardian of the Earth).

Longmen Caves in Luoyang

In 494 AD the Northern Wei Dynasty moved its capital from Datong to Luoyang At Datong the dynasty had built the impressive Yungang Caves. Now in Luoyang, the dynasty commenced work on the Longmen Caves. Over the next 200 years, more than 100,000 images and statues of Buddha and his disciples were carved into the cliff walls on the banks of the Yi River, 16km south of the city. It was an ideal site. The hard texture of the rock, like that at Datong, made it eminently suitable for carving. The caves of Luoyang, Dunhuang and Datong represent the peak of Buddhist cave art.  

Apart from natural erosion, at Luoyang there has been much damage done to the sculptures during the 19th and 20th centuries by western souvenir hunters who beheaded just about every figure they could lay their saws on. These heads now grace the museums and private paperweight collections of Europe and North America. Among these were two murals which were entirely removed and can now be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Atkinson Museum in Kansas City. The Cultural Revolution also took its toll when the Red Guards arrived with hammers. The Ten Thousand Buddha Cave was particularly damaged during this period.  

The art of Buddhist cave sculpture largely came to an end around the middle of the 9th century as the Tang Dynasty declined. Persecution of foreign religions in China began, with Buddhism as the prime target. Although Buddhist art and sculpture continued in China, it never reached the heights it had enjoyed previously.

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