The Golden Temple, situated on Mingfeng
Hill in the northeastern outskirts of Kunming, 7 kilometres
away from the downtown area, is known for its bronze
building which 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.
From 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
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.
In 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.
Originally 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 an alarm.
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.
Most of our packaged
Yunnan and Kunming
tour packages include the
visit of Golden Temple, we are always ready to tailor
make a new private trip for you, just drop us an email.
Jiuxiang Scenic Resort
Western Hills And Dragon
Daguan (Grand View) Park
Jiaozi Snow Mountain
Ancient Alu Cave
Black Dragon Pool
Puzehei Scenic Region
Anning Hot Spring
Kunming Spring City
Kunming Country Golf
Kunming Sunshine Golf