Golden Temple (Jindian), situated on Mingfeng Hill (the Hill
of Singing Phoenixes), also called Yingwu Hill (the Parrot
Hill) in the northeastern outskirts of Kunming,
7 kilometres away from the downtown area, is also known as
Taihe Palace (the Hall of Supreme Harmony) and Tongwa Temple
(the Bronze Tile Temple). The building is cast entirely in
bronze weighing about 250 tons. The hills around the temple
abound in evergreen pines and hardy cypresses, adding beauty
to the superb scenery. This scenic wonderland, surrounded
by verdant hills and enveloped by mists can be seen dimly
from a distance. By the Qing Dynasty, the place had been acclaimed
as the Fairyland of Mingfeng.
The Golden Temple is a Daoist temple. According
to legends, during the reign of Wanli in the Ming Dynasty,
Chen Yongbin, the then governor of Yunnan, believed in Daoism.
One day he dreamed about the immortal Lu Dongbin making an
appointment with him to meet each other at the foot of Yingwushan
Hill the next day. Shortly after the rooster crowed the next
morning, Chen Yongbin stood there waiting, only to find an
old herdsman leading a sheep with a rope and cooking taros
down the hillside in an earthen pot with another pot as the
lid. As he took a step forward to have a closer look, the
old man disappeared all of a sudden and so did the rope-tied
sheep. It suddenly dawned on Chen Yongbin that the two pots
put together shaped like the Chinese character "Lu", alluding
to the family name of the immortal. Besides, the character
for rope is homonymous to the character for purity and the
character for sheep is homonymous to the character for purity
and the character for sheep is homonymous to the character
for the yang. The immortal Lu Dongbin also styled himself
as the Pure Yang. It was obvious that Lu was intentionally
indicating to him that the scenery of Yingwu Hill was wonderful
and that it was as good as an earthly paradise. Thereupon
Chen Yongbin began to recruit workers to build an ideal temple
here in the thirteenth year of the reign of Wanli (1602).
As a result, the Memorial Hall of Immortal Lu, Taihegoing
and Sangyuan Palace were constructed after the architectural
style of Taihe Temple at the middle peak of the seventy two
peaks of Wudang Mountains in Hubei Province. Since then this
wonderland has become a famous Daoist shrine in Yunnan.
the foot of Mingfeng Hill to Taihe Palace, one goes up along
the winding path of stone steps in the shade of pines and
passes through the First Heavenly Gate, the Second Heavenly
Gate and the Third Heavenly Gate. All the gates are decorated
with archivolts, carved beams, painted rafters and vermillion
designs, which give an air of majesty and impressiveness.
These constructions are typical of the serene, solemn architectural
style of Daoist temples. On the red walls outside the gate
of Taihe Palace are written four big Chinese characters "ying
wu chun shen" (spring is very much in the air on Yingwushan),
which were written in the Ming Dynasty and have been well
preserved. With vigorous, smooth and beautiful strokes, these
four characters have been honoured as a calligraphic treasure.
The moment one steps into the gate of the temple, one is attracted
by the imposing Lingxing Gate with upturned eaves and archivolts.
In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the three schools of thought,
namely, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism merged into one
and became prevalent in Yunnan. Thus Lingxing Gate of the
Confucian temple was introduced into the Daoist temple.
Walking straight northeastward through Lingxing
Gate, one sees a small and exquisite Forbidden City of blue
bricks, in which stands the Hall of the Polar Star, supported
by a marble platform and steps. This is none other than the
Golden Temple made of bronze. The beams, pillars, tiles, window
frames, 36 lattice doors, altars, figurines, dhvajas (pillars
with Buddhist inscriptions), inscribed boards and incense
burners aH these are entirely made of bronze produced in Yunnan.
The hall is 6.7 metres high, 7.8 metres wide and weighs 250
tons. Regarded as one of the biggest bronze temples in China,
the Golden Temple fully demonstrates the consummate smelting
technique in Yunnan more than
three hundred years ago.
The original Golden Temple was built in
1602 in the Ming Dynasty. In the tenth year of the reign of
Emperor Chongzhen in the Ming Dynasty (1637), Governor Zhang
Genghe moved the Golden Temple tojinding Monastery on Jizushan
Mountain in Binchuan County, a sacred shrine of Buddhism.
The present temple was built by Wu Sangui in the early Qing
Dynasty (1671). In front of the Golden Temple is a big ancient
bronze pot and a post with a bronze flag engraved with the
design of the sun, the moon, the polar star and the Big Dipper.
The hollowed-out patterns of the sun and the moon are standing
on the upper part of the flag. Between the sun and the moon
are engraved four big Chinese characters "tian xia tai ping"
(Peace reigns over the world). On the streamer of the flag
are carved eight Chinese characters "feng tiao yu shan guo
tai mm an" (Timely winds and favorable rains; prosperous nation
and contented people). When tourists stand here enjoying such
a wonderful sight, they cannot help feeling fascinated as
if they were standing in an ancient castle surrounded by towering
walls, with the flags fluttering in the wind and the military
prowess of the soldiers greatly boosted.
the Golden Temple is still preserved a double-edged sword
with the pattern of the Big Dipper on it, which weighs more
than 20 kilograms and is thought to be a magic weapon used
by Zhen Wu, a Daoist deity, to guard the hill. A broadsword
with a wooden handle that weighs 12 kilograms is also kept
there, which is said to have been once used by Wu Sangui.
Beside the Second Heavenly Gate stands a tablet erected in
March 1845 during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing
Dynasty. The inscriptions on the tablet are records of the
earthquake that happened in Yunnan during the reign of Qian
long in the Qing Dynasty, thus providing valuable information
for a further study of the history of earthquakes in Kunming.
On both sides of Zhenwu Hall are Huancui
Chamber and Xiaqi Hall, in which paintings and calligraphy
as well as potted landscapes are on display. Such exquisite,
peaceful and delighiful surroundings are ideal for tourists
to have a rest.
Outside the western gate of the "Forbidden
City" grows a came ilia tree by the name of "butterflies'wings"
planted in the Ming Dynasty. Being a famous camellia in Yunnan,
this tree is about 7 metres high and five to six hundred years
old. During the Spring Festival, thousands of camellia flowers
burst into full bloom, yying with one another in splendour.
The whole tree is radiant and riotous with flaming camellia
flowers. "All flowers are contending to open to bloom with
vigour and impatience in defiance of the cold of early spring.
Camellias are superb, dwarfing any other flowers. Thousands
upon thousands of flowers run riot in a blaze on the crowns
of the trees. Against the melting snow the beauty of the flowers
sets the sky in a boisterous glow of crimson. I am delighted
at the eye feast and drunk with the beauty of nature here".
This is a poem written by Dan Dang (a monk and poet as well
as an outstanding painter of Yunnan in the early Qing Dynasty)
entitled "Camellia", singing praises of the flowers.
At the top of Mingfengshan Hill stands a
three-storey belfry, 29 metres high and in the form of a cross.
Twelve protruding eaves are designed for each floor to strengthen
the belfry. The 36 protruding eaves look like a group of singing
phoenixes ready to fly. Below the vault of the belfry hangs
a bronze bell cast in 1423 during the reign of Emperor Yongle
of the Ming Dynasty, 3.5 metres in height, 6.7 metres in circumference
around the mouth and 14 tons in weight, the biggest of its
kind in Kunming.
the bell was hung in Xuanhua Tower in the southern city gate
of Kunming, but it was moved several times over the years.
In 1953, it had to be moved into Guzhuang Park outside Zhuangyuan
Tower, for Xuanhua Tower was to be demolished. And finally
the bell was moved to the Golden Temple in 1983.
A legend about the bronze bell runs that
during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, the
local people tried to cast a bell, but each time they failed.
It was not until an immortal came to their assistance that
they succeeded in casting the bell. But the bell was too heavy
for human beings to lift and hang in Xuanhua Tower. Seeing
this, the immortal made a rope with shavings and sawdust and
hung it up. This done, he was now ready to take his leave.
As he was on the point of leaving, the immortal said to the
bell striker: "Don't strike it until I am one hundred li away,
three days later". It was scarcely two days before the bell
striker became too impatient to wait any longer, for he was
eager to know how loud the bell would sound. So he began to
strike the bell without taking heed of what the immortal had
said. Hardly had the immortal covered 40 li when he heard
the peal. As a result, the peal could not be heard beyond
40 li. According to the records of the local annals, the befl
was at first used to tell the correct time and later to give
In the south of the belfry is the Kunming
Arboretum covering an area of 500 mu, divided into 12 sections,
namely, the Camellia, Magnolia, Rose, Azalea, Primrose, Bamboo,
Aquatic Plant, Snow Pine Lawn, Highland Barley, Hothouse Arboretum
is adjacent to the Golden Temple. With a combination of magnificent
scenery and scenic spots, Mingfengshan Hill is bound to become
a favoured tourist resort in Kunming.