- This article is about the location. For the titular episode, see "The Southern Air Temple". For the location in the film, see Southern Air Temple.
The Southern Air Temple, located in the remote Patola Mountain Range, is one of the four original Air Nomad temples and one of the two that exclusively housed male airbenders, the other being the Northern Air Temple. Although it used to accept pilgrims from other nations, the temple was thought to be only accessible via flying bison during Aang's lifetime. In spite of this, the Fire Nation managed to wipe out the temple's population during the Air Nomad Genocide, abruptly ending millennia of use by monks and nuns. Though it remained uninhabited for the duration of the Hundred Year War, the Southern Air Temple was restored to its former glory shortly after the conflict's end by the Air Acolytes, who remained to settle in the temple grounds to preserve Air Nomad culture through many of their observances.
Air Nomad period
Kelsang, Avatar Kuruk's airbending master, hailed from the Southern Air Temple but was disgraced among his people after he decimated a Fifth Nation fleet, even though he did so to protect the citizens of the southern Earth Kingdom.
Avatar Kyoshi sought sanctuary at the Southern Air Temple after the death of Kuruk's earthbending master, Jianzhu, who sought to control her for his own political gain. It was here that she was first openly acknowledged and accepted as the Avatar, and she used her position to restore her adoptive father, Kelsang, to an honored place among the Air Nomads.
The Southern Air Temple was the childhood home of Monk Gyatso, who met and befriended Avatar Roku there when he came to the temple to master the art of airbending. After Roku's death, the temple also served as the childhood home of Avatar Aang, who was raised there by Gyatso before he ran away after overhearing the Council of Elders' decision that he should be sent away to the Eastern Air Temple to complete his airbending training as the Avatar.
Genocide and ruination
At 0 AG, during the passing of the comet later known as Sozin's Comet, the temple was raided as part of Fire Lord Sozin's genocide on the Air Nomads, which ultimately instigated the Hundred Year War. Though the temple's inhabitants defended themselves against the invaders, they were eventually overpowered by the Fire Nation troops and were all killed. The sole known survivor of the massacre was the person the Fire Nation sought to kill in its quest for supremacy: the twelve-year-old airbender and Avatar, Aang, who had run away from the Southern Air Temple shortly before the War began and became trapped in ice in suspended animation.
The temple was revisited by Aang, with his friends Katara and Sokka, in late 99 AG. There, he discovered a winged lemur, which he named Momo. While there, Aang discovered the fate of the air temple and its people, including Gyatso, causing him to realize that all the Air Nomads were wiped out and that he, Appa, and Momo were all that remained.
At some point after the Hundred Year War, Aang scoured the ruins of the Southern Air Temple in his quest to revive Air Nomad culture. He found badly damaged documents at the temple, one of which helped him to reconstruct some traditional Air Nomad recipes.
Like the other air temples, the Southern Air temple was eventually restored by the Air Acolytes, some of whom also began to inhabit it. The temple became a pilgrimage site for Air Acoltyes who wanted to study Air Nomad philosophy and history.
In 171 AG, Tenzin planned to visit the Southern Air Temple with his family and the Avatar, desiring to spend more time with his family and hoping to deepen Korra's spiritual connection. Plans changed, however, and Korra did not accompany the family to Aang's home temple. As soon as Oogi landed on temple ground, the family was greeted by a delegation of Air Acolytes led by Abbot Shung. Bumi and Kya, who accompanied the family, were also greeted with reverence by a female acolyte, as she believed them to be airbenders as well. She promptly apologized for the misunderstanding and left the siblings to continue her work.
Shortly after their arrival, Tenzin and his children visited the statue room located within the sanctuary. Ikki and Meelo occupied themselves with an air scooter race through the sanctuary as opposed to listening to their father's lecture. They crashed into a statue, however, causing Tenzin to leave Jinora, who found Aang's statue among the others and became connected to it, similar to how her grandfather had been connected to Roku's. That night, Jinora awoke to revisit the statue room, where she found the statue depicting Wan and Raava, its design notably different from the others. While Jinora pondered over the identity of the Avatar it depicted, Wan's statue began to glow, concurrent with Korra's opening of the Southern spirit portal.
Prior to the Hundred Year War, the temple was large and peaceful, had simple and open spaced gardens, and an airball arena. Long paths that twisted and turned like meditation mazes lead up the slopes of the mountain to the temple's earthbound entrances. The massive facility features a sanctuary in which statues of past Avatars are arranged for exhibition. The temple itself primarily served as a training ground for airbender students and was once inhabited by flying bison and winged lemurs in the days of the original Air Nomads. As a result of being built for and by the monks, several doors and mechanisms are operable only through means of airbending. A statue of Monk Gyatso stands at the entrance to the temple. Unlike the other three original temples, the Southern Air Temple boasts blue, elaborately decorated spires rather than the green, plain spires that adorn the others.
By 171 AG, the temple had been restored to its former glory by the Air Acolytes led by Abbot Shung, who made residence in the temple grounds with both male and female Acolytes living together. New structures had been added to facilitate the new inhabitants and it boasted a thriving population of ring-tailed winged lemurs, similar to the ones that had inhabited the temple prior to the Air Nomad Genocide. The statue room had also been restored and updated to include a statue of Avatar Aang.
The temple had quarters reserved for the Avatar's current incarnation, with dark wooden floor, carpeted with naturally shed bison wool that was woven into patterns of Air Nomad whorls, and orange columns that held the ceiling up. The quarters had stations for meditative exercises, including a reflective pool, and a blank stone surface surrounded by vials of colored sand. Avatar Kyoshi stayed here for some time after revealing herself as the Avatar to the world.
- Avatar Aang
- Abbot Dorje
- Monk Gyatso
- Monk Jinpa
- Monk Kelsang
- Older Air Nomad boy
- Monk Pasang
- Abbot Shung
- Monk Tang Xu
- Monk Tashi
- The Southern Air Temple is the only original air temple with blue spires instead of the green spires which adorn the other three temples.
- In early previews of "The Southern Air Temple", Aang referred to this structure as the Jongmu Air Temple.
- The Lost Scrolls: Air, page 212 of The Lost Scrolls Collection, states that Momo originated from the Jongmu Air Temple. Considering the fact that the information in the book series was taken from episode screenplays, the Southern Air Temple was still titled "Jongmu" up to that stage of production. Page 232 uses "Jongmu Temple" instead of "Jongmu Air Temple" in place of "Southern Air Temple", as does the final page of The Lost Scrolls: Air. Additionally, another Avatar book, Brainbenders page 12, states that Jongmu Air Temple is the name of the Southern Air Temple, suggesting that "Southern Air Temple" is only a colloquialism.