The Hanging Temple is located on the crag of Jinlongkou west cliff at the foot of Hengshan Mountain, 5 kilometers to the south from Hunyuan County, Shanxi Province.
Hengshan Mountain is known as the North Mountain of the Five Sacred Mountains in China. The Hanging Temple was built on the Jinlong Valley at the foot of Henshan Mountain, which is 80 kilometers away from Datong City. According to the History of Hengshan Mountain, the Hanging Temple was first built at the end of the Northern Wei Dynasty (about the sixth century). It was said to be built by a monk named Liao Ran in the Northern Wei Dynasty. It has a history of more than 1,400 years. After many times of repairs, the Hanging Temple had a large scale, and became a rare high altitude building in China, known as a high building on cliff.
All buildings in the temple were hung on the crag at the slope of Hengshan Mountain. The buildings stand vertical to the cliff, and the peak of the cliff seems upside down. Seen from upwards, the whole building seems that it just sticks to the cliff. Facing south to Hengshan Mountain, the temple is under the crags and on the cloughs, with red walls and gray tiles. Strew at random and spread in the air, it just like a flying little phoenix. The buildings are arrayed in a line from the south of the cliff to the north, and heightened gradually like a dragon pronating on the cliff. More than forty halls, rooms and pavilions in the temple are divided to three groups. Passing through the temple gate, one can reach a two-storeyed building. As the stele pavilions and the gate towers, two tall buildings stand face to face in the yard. There are two bell and drum towers on both sides of the temple gate, and they are square side pavilions. The principal building among them is the Sanguan Hall, a place to offer sacrifice to Taoism. Statues in the hall are vivid, with undecorated faces, black eyebrows and swaying gussets. The principal building in the central party is the Sansheng Hall, which enshrines sitting Buddha statues with disciples standing submissively on the sides. The last building complex is mainly the Sanjiao Hall, the highest one in the temple, and has a three-eave gable and hip roof with nine ridges. Statues of Confucius, Laozi (a scholar in ancient China) and Sakyamuni the founders of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism respectively, are enshrined in the hall. Different cultures directly encounter one another here. This building is a perfect combination of religion and culture of Chinese feudal society. The statue of Sakyamuni stands in the middle, that of Laozi on the right and Confucius on the left, with different expressions. Displaying the innermost being of three founders of different doctrines, techniques of statuaries are really exquisite and are acclaimed as the peak of perfection.
The Hanging Temple was designed skillfully and constructed audaciously. The method is to chisel a horizontal hole in the cliff, and then put a beam through the hole out of the cliff, at last put board and pillars on the beam to build various beam frames and roofs. Balusters are set around all the buildings outside the cliff. Looking from the top of the mountain, visitors can see some impending wooden poles under the buildings that are far from the cliff. These wooden poles are set to protect the buildings. The temple was arranged in random from north to south, with a bluff inside and devious plank roads built along the face of the cliff. Beam frames are harmonious up and down, and balusters are connected to each other, with appropriate density, like one integrated mass. Seen from the buildings, it looks as if facing an abyss; seen from the bottom of the valley, the cliff is lofty like a rainbow; seen from the opposite side over the valley, it looks like a young flying phoenix on the cliff. It is just like what the inscription on the cliff of plank roads reads, People are more creative than nature.
There are all sorts of inscriptions, poems and another 78 statues of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism made of copper, iron, clay and stone, which are valuable cultural craftworks.