- This article is about the location. For other similar uses, see Northern Air Temple (disambiguation).
|"Hey, we're almost at the Northern Air Temple! This is where they had the championships for sky bison polo!"|
|— Aang introducing the Northern Air Temple to Sokka and Katara.|
The Northern Air Temple was one of the four original temples that belonged to the Air Nomads. Located in the mountains along the northern coast of the Earth Kingdom continent, this temple was one of the two temples that exclusively housed male airbenders, the other one being the Southern Air Temple. Its original population, however, was wiped out at the beginning of the Hundred Year War, during the Air Nomad Genocide. The temple was later inhabited by a group of Earth Kingdom refugees led by the mechanist, who settled there after their own village was destroyed by a flood. The Northern Air Temple was the site where many important technological advancements in the world took place.
The temple was later restored to its former glory by Avatar Aang and the Air Acolytes after the Hundred Year War and, after airbending resurfaced in nonbending citizens following the Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG, it became the training grounds for those new at the art. However, when the Red Lotus arrived, the building was eventually destroyed by Ghazan, who used his lavabending to destroy the temple's foundations, which eventually led to the building's collapse.
The Northern Air Temple was built thousands of years before the Hundred Year War by Air Nomad monks, who used the structure mainly as a training ground for young airbenders. The temple was noted for its design, which harmoniously integrated its natural surroundings into the structure; the large hallways would harness the wind and allow air to flow naturally through the building.
The temple was the residence of a legendary guru and poet, Laghima, around 3,829 BG, during which time it is believed he discovered the secret to weightlessness and lived the last forty years of his life untethered to the ground.
After the extermination of the original population, the temple complex was rediscovered by a group of refugees led by the mechanist around 89 AG, after which it was extensively modified from its original state to accommodate the lifestyle of the new residents. As the mechanist added new inventions, the temple underwent many technological upgrades, which often required the destruction or expansion of many original structures. While searching for signs of the Avatar, the Fire Nation eventually discovered the temple's established refugee population and threatened to destroy their new home; however, the mechanist was able to make a deal with the military, in which he would design weapons for the Fire Lord in exchange for letting his people live in peace.
The mechanist used the airbender staffs he found within to make his own gliders and give his paraplegic son Teo a new life in the air. During the years the refugees lived in the temple, some were eventually seen gliding around it by other Earth Kingdom villagers, who came to call them "air walkers". Hopeful to see other survivors of the Air Nomad Genocide, Aang, Katara, and Sokka traveled to the Northern Air Temple, where they discovered that the "air walkers" were just the gliding refugees.
They met up with Teo, who proudly showed them around the temple and its many innovations. Sokka was immediately enthralled by the changes. Aang, however, was angered and saddened by them as they had destroyed part of his people's history; he saw them as a violation of the temple's original sanctity. In an attempt to cheer Aang up, Teo took him and Katara to the inner sanctuary of the temple, convinced that, since it could only be opened by airbending, it was still untouched by the technology. Aang eventually agreed to open the sanctuary. However, inside they found a storage room for Fire Nation weapons instead of ancient Air Nomad relics.
The mechanist explained that the Fire Nation had found the Northern Air Temple about a year after the Earth Kingdom refugees made it their home, and that the Fire Nation had threatened to destroy everything by burning the temple to the ground. In an attempt to save the settlement, the mechanist had offered his services. The Fire Nation had been extorting him to manufacture weapons for them ever since, under the threat of an attack if he did not comply.
After Aang forcefully expelled War Minister Qin, the representative of the Fire Nation, thereby terminating the partnership between the mechanist and the Fire Nation, the latter gave action to the threat and launched an attack against the temple. Although they initially managed to hold the Fire Nation forces at bay with their control over the sky, the defenders were no match for the Fire Nation's tundra tanks. In a last attempt to repel the advancing army, Sokka and the mechanist, piloting the first made hot air balloon, threw their fuel source overboard to ignite the natural gas pocket held in a cave beneath the temple. Their venture succeeded as the explosion blew up part of the mountain, destroying the only path to the temple and forcing the Fire Nation to retreat, thereby protecting it from future attacks. The temple remained unscathed by Fire Nation attack and the subsequent explosion.
Some time after the Hundred Year War, Avatar Aang spearheaded the restoration of the air temples with the help of the Air Acolytes. To restore the portions of the Northern Air Temple that were destroyed during War Minister Qin's attack, they called in the help of earthbenders, and the holes created by the explosions were filled in with new buildings. The Acolytes later came to inhabit the temple, while the refugees that had previously lived there moved elsewhere and the technological advancements they had installed in the temple were removed.
After the events of Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG, and the return of airbending, Tenzin brought many of the newly discovered airbenders found throughout the Earth Kingdom to the Northern Air Temple so that they could be trained to master their new abilities and help restore the Air Nation. The area, however, had also attracted the attention of poachers looking to capture the endangered wild flying bison around the temple in order to supply the Earth Queen and her royal courts desire for exotic meat. They would come into conflict with Tenzin and his airbender trainees before being subdued and imprisoned in the cages in which they had kept the captured bison.
The temple came under attack and sustained some damage when the Red Lotus arrived in order to round up all the people staying there to use as leverage to get to the Avatar. Due to P'Li's relentless combustionbending bombardments, many temple pathways sported holes in the stones, while Ghazan's lavabending had liquefied part of the inner courtyard and Ming-Hua's waterbending destroyed some of the stone Air Nomad statues. Mako, Bolin, and Asami later arrived at the temple to free the captured airbenders while Korra turned herself in to the Red Lotus. It was a trap, however, and Ghazan created a pool of lava, preventing them from escaping, while flooding the temple in the process. Following Tenzin's guidance, Bolin broke through a wall, allowing Team Avatar to escape via the basement tunnels of the temple. After they fled the temple on Kai's bison, the building collapsed as its foundations had been destroyed by the lava.
The temple was designed to be a part of its natural surroundings and to fit harmoniously with nature — large hallways harness wind and allow air to naturally flow within. It was home to the airbender monks and their students and used primarily as a training ground for airbenders. As a result of being built for and by them, several of the temples' doors and mechanisms are operable only through means of airbending.
The temple remained a peaceful sanctuary until it was attacked by the Fire Nation during the passing of Sozin's Comet, one hundred years prior to Team Avatar's visit. It was left abandoned until the Earth Kingdom refugees, under the leadership of the mechanist and his son, arrived ninety years later and retro-fitted it for non-airbender living. Everything in the temple is powered by hot air, like elevator-type contraptions to carry people from level to level and the gliders that use the hot air currents outside the temple to help them fly.
Sometime after the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, the temple was restored to its former glory through the efforts of Avatar Aang and the Air Acolytes.
Air temple sanctuary
Located inside the air temple, this great hall was originally built as a spiritual place where only the elder monks and the Avatar were allowed. Only a master airbender can open the door to the sanctum. Because of this, Aang thought it was the only part of the temple that was untouched. As it turned out, however, the mechanist used physics and clever mechanics to open it, and use it as his secret weapons laboratory. After a confrontation between Aang and War Minister Qin, and seeing the disapproval in the eyes of his son, the mechanist stopped using it for this purpose.
There were several cloisters around the Northern Air Temple, which housed dormitory cells that young airbenders-in-training lived and slept in. The Air Acolytes moved into the cloisters after they restored the temple to its former glory.
The Northern Air Temple houses a leaf-shaped courtyard with five protuberances that each have a statue of a flying bison at the end. Airbenders came here to relax and converse with one another after a day of training.
Located on a quiet wing of the air temple, the mechanist's workshop was a place where he created and experimented with his newest inventions. The room was filled with all sorts of contraptions, ranging from prototypes of the gliders and a hot air balloon to blueprints for various vehicles, among which was a giant drill. It was here that War Minister Qin entered the temple through a secret door, designed by the mechanist. The workshop was also equipped with an alarm that was triggered when anyone entered the temple's inner sanctuary.
Like the rest of the temple, this room was also restored to its former glory. All the schematics and inventions of the mechanist were cleared out. The hidden passage once used by Qin remained in place and was used by Tenzin, Mako, Bolin, and Asami in their attempt to escape the lava flow created by Ghazan. They did not follow the staircase toward the end, however, as the rapidly approaching flow of lava forced them to create a side-exit.
Following the temple's restoration by the Air Acolytes, a room in the temple was repurposed to serve as a radio room. The use of a radio allowed the residents of the Northern Air Temple to remain in contact with Air Acolytes living in the other air temples with relative ease, while also allowing citizens from other areas of the world to contact the otherwise secluded settlement. Tenzin used the radio to alert Kya on Air Temple Island that he had arrived with recruits and he later used it to correspond with Korra in Zaofu.
In one of the temple's many courtyards, a field of bamboo poles was erected for the purpose of airbending training, specifically to develop balance through honing an individual's heaven-to-earth connection. Another courtyard features a Bagua Circle for the practice of circle-walking and other movements associated with airbending, while an elaborate obstacle course was also built near the temple grounds to train airbenders in speed and lightness.
The original inhabitants of the temple were Air Nomads, who once hosted the sky bison polo championships at this temple prior to the genocide. Following the Fire Nation's annihilation of the airbenders, a group of Earth Kingdom refugees came and took residence in the temple, building a new life for themselves in the sky using the mechanist's new inventions, and subsequently further aiding the disappearance of the Air Nomad customs.
An animal species that inhabits the air temples is a small, land-dwelling hermit crab. They look quite similar to their aquatic cousins, with a similar shell-switching lifestyle, but are covered in a thick coat of black and white hair. They seem to prefer damp, dark places and are apparently very adaptable, as the specimens in the Northern Air Temple survived a complete refurbishment of the entire complex, spearheaded by the mechanist. It seems fitting and is perhaps not coincidental that a nomadic animal by nature would live among the Air Nomads. Fireflies can also be found in the temple, and are used by the mechanist in large numbers as a natural source of light. At some point after the Hundred Year War, a herd of flying bison was found near the temple.
- The murals on the temple's walls, which Aang referred to as "the history of [his] people", depicted Air Nomads learning airbending from the sky bison.
- In the film, none of the machinery is present in the air sanctuary, as the mechanist is not referenced.
- The Northern Air Temple and Whaletail Island were the only known Air Nomad territories that were inhabited around 100 AG.
- As mentioned by Katara, it takes at least two days for Appa to fly himself and the others from the temple to the Northern Water Tribe.
- Located in the Earth Kingdom mainland, the Northern Air Temple was the only air temple not situated on an island.
- The temple and its surroundings were based on the mountains of Whistler, Canada.