Situated in central China and the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, Henan Province abbreviated as "Yu" is also known as Zhongzhou or Zhongyuan, both meaning the central area? With an area of 160000 square kilometers, Henan has a population of 92.56 million, which consists of 41 ethnic peoples including Hans, Huis, Mongolians, Manchurians and others. Zhengzhou is provincial capital.
Topographically, Henan slopes down from west to east; plain areas accounts for a half of the whole territory of the province, and mountain covers the rest. Northwestern Henan is screened by mountains on three sides. Major mountains of the province are Funiu, Taihang, Tongbai, Dabie and the Central Sacred Mountain—Mount Songshan. Main rivers include the Yellow, Huaihe and Weihe rivers.
Having a long history, Henan is known as a "cradle of the Chinese civilization" and "birthplace of the culture of Central Plains". The province has numerous places of historical interest and scenic beauty, and abounds in cultural relics. Luoyang, Kaifeng, Anyang, Nanyang, Shangqiu, Zhengzhou and Junxian are all national famous historical and cultural cities. Major tourist attractions are: Longmen Grottoes, a world cultural heritage site, Dahe Village Ruins including Yangshao, Longshan and Zhou cultures, Yin Ruins, White-Horse Temple, Guanlin, Iron Pagoda, Grand Chancellor's Temple, Dragon Pavilion, Shaolin Temple and Mount Songshan Scenic Resort.
Located in the south suburbs of Luoyang City, the Longmen Grottoes houses over 2100 Buddhist niches, more than 100000 sculptures, about 3600 inscriptions and 40 Buddhist pagodas. They scatter on the eastern and western cliffs on both of the Yihe River. The construction of the Grottoes began during the period of Northern Wei (386-534), and had lasted for over 400 years. It was inscribed on the List of World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2000.
14 kilometers northwest from Dengfeng City and on the slopes of Shaoshi Mountain, the Shaolin Temple was first built in 495 during the Northern Wei dynasty. The imposing temple consists of seven courtyards with a total of more than 30000 square meters, and is reputed as "as Number One Famous Temple under Heaven". The Hall of A-Thousand-Buddha, or the Shrine of Vairocana, one of the largest and best-preserved buildings of the temple, houses the bronze statue, jade statues and murals of the Ming Dynasty. To the west of the temple is a forest of 243 brick-and –masonry stupas of different sizes and architectural styles, built during a 1000 years spanning from the monks of the temple, and is the largest group of tomb pagoda in China.
White House Temple
One of the most venerable Buddhist shrines in China, the White House Temple stands 12 kilometers northeast of Luoyang. The present Ming and Qing buildings in the temple were built on the site of the original temple, which dated back 2000 years in 68 AD. The temple was the first Buddhist temple to be built in China and plays important role in the country's Buddhist monks from India, riding a white house, delivered the Buddhist scriptures to Luoyang—hence the name of the temple. Covering an area of almost 40000 square meters, the temple consists of over a hundred halls and rooms.
Eight kilometers south of the city of Luoyang, Guanlin, also called Emperor Guan's Temple, is a memorial temple complex of Guan Yu, a famous general of the State of Shu during the Three Kingdoms (220-280), who was honored as a god by Chinese emperors. First constructed during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and it was side Guan Yu's head was buried here. The stone-carving of lions, ancient tablets and oddly shaped cypresses in the temple are also famous
In a park of the same name in northeast of Kaifeng City, the Iron Pagoda was first built in the Northern Song Dynasty. The structure is made of iron-colors glazed bricks, patterned in 28 different styles, but from a distance the pagoda looks like it was made from iron. The 13 story octagonal pagoda is more than 55 meters high. On the brick basement are exquisite carved patterns of animals, Buddhist motifs and flora.
Buddhist Cave Temple
The temples are at the foot of Mt. Dali on the northern bank of the Yiluo River in Gongyi City. Construction of the caves began during the Jingming reign period (500-504) of the Northern Wei Dynasty, and additions were made during the later dynasties. There are now 5 grottoes, more than 250 shrines and 7700 Buddhist figures.
The Song Tombs are scattered over an area southwest Gongyi. Seven of the nine emperors of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) were buried here; the other two were captured and taken away by the Jin armies who overthrew the Northern Song in the 12th century. There were over 20 tombs for empresses and imperial concubines in the area. And royal members and ministers of the dynasty, such as Kou Zhun and Bao Zheng (both were famous ministers), were also buried in the area.