From a distance, it looks like a sophisticated and sparkling bas-relief embedded in the midst of sharp cliffs. When approaching closer, it appears dynamically as if it can float in the air amidst the vast mountains and forests, lying on the 50-meter-high cliff, that is the Marvelous Cave Temple. This is not just an ordinary temple, it is also known as one of the most dangerous places in the world. Anyone who wants to come here for monastic practice, besides a kind heart, must possess a strong spirit in the face of the precarious cliff climbing scene. Why is a place of monastic practice built in such a dangerous place, what is truly inside the Marvelous Cave Temple. Let's find out in today's article.

The Marvelous Cave Temple, also known as the Hanging Temple, is an architectural masterpiece perched on the cliffs of Mount Heng in Son Tay province, China, built from the Northern Wei dynasty from 386 to 534 AD. The temple has been standing for over 1500 years, still clinging to the cliff. This not only amazes architectural experts but also astonishes ordinary tourists who come to visit, even the American Times magazine voted the Marvelous Cave Temple as one of the top 10 most dangerous architectural wonders in the world.

The Marvelous Cave Temple began construction at the end of the Northern Wei period and was renovated through many different dynasties such as the Later Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing. The last time this temple was renovated was in 1990, this temple is believed to be the idea of ​​Venerable Lieu Nhiên or Zen Master Dao Truong Khau Khiem who left instructions on building a monastery in mid-air to elevate the guest and eliminate the ultimate trickery. In addition, according to some historical documents, in 491 AD, a group of talented monks and engineers began building the Marvelous Cave Temple with the goal of creating a quiet and secluded place for spiritual practice away from the outside world.

Over time, the temple has become an important spiritual destination as well as a meeting place and intersection of three major religions, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. This combination has created a diverse cultural and religious space where different philosophical and spiritual ideas coexist and develop. For over 1500 years, these three religions have coexisted or harmonized at the Marvelous Cave Temple to meet the religious needs of visitors and believers when they come to visit. This makes the Marvelous Cave Temple a symbol of harmony and coexistence among different religions, conveying a message of unity and mutual respect among different belief systems. What makes this temple known as one of the most dangerous temples in the world is the fact that the temple is 50 meters high with three floors and nine roofs, standing on a cliff.

The entire structure is made of wood and built on the vertical cliff, when we see the whole temple, we will surely worry that one day the temple will collapse to the ground. However, the construction method of the temple is to dig horizontal holes in the rock wall, place crossbeams through them, and then place wooden columns on the crossbeams to create the frame and roof. Many railings are built around the buildings outside the cliff to create a solid and secure protection system for the temple against the impacts of natural phenomena. The architecture of the Marvelous Cave Temple is a perfect combination of art and technology of the buildings, interconnected by a system of corridors and wooden staircases creating an extremely tight and flexible architectural space. In addition, the prayer halls are cleverly arranged to maximize the narrow space on the cliff, while ensuring the safety of visitors and practitioners inside.

The Marvelous Cave Temple has about 40 prayer halls with different sizes, the largest one has an area of ​​36 m2 while the smallest one is only about 5 m2. The heights of the prayer halls are also very diverse, with some high halls measuring tens of meters, but there are also halls that are only a few meters high. Although this unevenness creates a very unique overall picture, it does not create a sense of chaos or confusion. Inside the temple, visitors can admire about 80 Buddha statues made of different materials including statues cast in iron, carved from stone, and molded from clay. Each Buddha statue in the temple has its own beauty and is meticulously carved to show the reverence and faith of the ancients. The statues are not only works of art but also symbols of protection and luck for those who come to worship. The prayer halls are elaborately decorated with patterns and motifs bearing the cultural and artistic characteristics of ancient Chinese culture.

One of the greatest mysteries of the Marvelous Cave Temple is how this temple can stand on the cliff for thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered that between the buildings and the wooden beams of the temple, there are buried wooden beams with a diameter of about 50 cm, deeply inserted into the mountain rock 2 m and protruding about 1 m. In total, there are 27 such horizontal beams that help support the entire Marvelous Cave Temple, these wooden beams are made of Sam wood, a local specialty soaked in tung oil to prevent decay. Not only that, this is also one of the most attractive features of the Marvelous Cave Temple.

How could ancient people, without mechanical tools, build an architectural structure on a cliff and why this entirely wooden structure can survive for thousands of years without decay or being affected by earthquakes. Archaeologists have put forward hypotheses to explain these mysteries, one of which is the use of high-quality construction techniques and materials such as Sam wood soaked in tung oil. In addition, the choice of construction location on the cliff was carefully calculated to ensure stability and safety for the temple.

Studies also show that the structure of the Marvelous Cave Temple is designed to evenly distribute weight to help the temple withstand the impacts of nature. An interesting aspect of the construction of this temple is the application of mechanical principles in building wooden beams, not only bearing weight but also evenly distributing weight to help the entire structure stand firm against the impacts of nature such as strong winds, earthquakes, or storms. The precise calculation in arranging the wooden beams and empty columns has created a perfect load-bearing system ensuring the safety of the temple. Over centuries, the temple's architecture was designed to resist harsh weather conditions and natural disasters. The temple is located 50 meters above the ground level, so it is not affected by floods or snowstorms.

Every year, there are 3 months when the sun shines directly for about 2 hours each day, helping to avoid the damage caused by continuous sunlight and wind, and the dry climate also helps prevent the decay of the wooden structure. In addition, the special location of the temple also helps prevent the impact of heavy rain and floods when it rains heavily or there is a flood, the water will flow along the mountain cliff without affecting the temple. Moreover, the dry climate of the area also helps maintain the good condition of the wood, preventing decay and damage due to moisture. The Marvelous Cave Temple is located among the cliffs of Thuy Binh peak, west of Kim Long alley of Mount Heng. From a distance, the temple looks like a sophisticated and sparkling bas-relief embedded in the sharp cliffs. When approaching, the temple appears dynamically as if it is floating in the air.

Around the temple, there are many beautiful landscapes that attract tourists to visit and admire when visiting the Marvelous Cave Temple. Visitors will experience an adventurous feeling when walking on the corridors and wooden staircases hanging on the cliff. The natural landscape around the temple is also extremely beautiful with majestic mountains and lush green valleys, especially in autumn, the scenery here becomes brilliant with the yellow color of the leaves creating a magnificent natural painting. The special location of the temple on the cliff also keeps it away from the hustle and bustle of secular life, helping practitioners easily achieve concentration and tranquility in their souls, and that's all the information about the Marvelous Cave Temple, the temple known as the most dangerous in the world with super many fascinating and unique things in China.

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