Set at the base of Shaoshi Mountain, nine miles (15 kilometers) west of Dengfeng, lies the Shaolin Temple, famous not for its Buddhist history but for its martial arts. The original monastery was built in 495 during the Northern Wei Dynasty as a place for meditation.
According to temple legend, an Indian monk by the name of Bodhidharma came to the monastery and meditated in a cave for nine years, and as part of his practice, he developed a series of exercises mimicking animal movements that eventually became Shaolin kung-fu.
Today, the Shaolin Temple is a hotbed for martial arts enthusiasts from around the world who come here to study at the dozens of martial arts schools within the monastery. Visitors not interested in practicing kung-fu themselves can still tour the temple and watch a free martial arts show at the Shaolin Martial Arts training Center.
You can get to Shaolin Temple by catching a direct tour bus in Zhengzhou.